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ATPM 11.08
August 2005


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Accessory Review

by Frank H. Wu,

Vyper XL


Developer: booq

Price: $55

Requirements: iBook or PowerBook, all sizes

Trial: None

I placed an order for the Vyper case before it was available because it looked cool, and I’m glad I did because it works well. This laptop sleeve, manufactured by a reputable company, is made to high standards from semi-rigid high-density foam, with a black ballistic nylon exterior and a felt interior.


It features three lateral ridges on the top and three matching ridges on the bottom for shock protection. A zipper with two pulls runs around three sides and about half the bottom without coming into contact with the contents. A rubber grip strip runs the remaining half length of the bottom to ensure more secure carrying. There is no carrying handle.

The styling details are subtle, but they make this sleeve more attractive than a text description can convey. It is best described as minimalist, rather than plain. Such an observation would be ironic, except even Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who coined the phrase “less is more,” used decorative elements to express the underlying structure of his skyscrapers instead of merely relying on the message of the naked structure itself.


There are Vyper sizes suitable for each size of the current iterations of PowerBook and iBook, as well as a generic “L” for 15-inch Windows machines. (Be careful not to confuse the PowerBook 15-inch model with the Windows 15-inch model.) The fit is quite tight, so the zipper needs to be undone around the sides to extract the machine.

The only problems with the Vyper case are the stiffness of the zipper, which should become smoother with use, and a slight smell from the material, which dissipated after a few days. (I’ve looked at two other Vyper cases besides mine, and they differ slightly in the tightness of the fit and stiffness of the zipper. So presumably this is an issue of manufacturing tolerances, and there likely is a fair amount of individual variation.)

For some consumers, sleeves serve a function besides transportation. They act as a heat shielding cushion when a laptop is actually being used in a lap. The Vyper is superior in the heat shielding function. But it might not be as good as some competitors in providing the requisite stickiness as a cushion, i.e., inspiring confidence that the laptop will stay put on top of it rather than suffer a disastrous fall. The design also isn’t meant for the computer to be used while remaining in the sleeve, because the sides are high enough to interfere with the power cord.

I am persuaded, however, that the Vyper by itself offers enough protection for short jaunts in the office, and, inserted into a backpack or briefcase, for just about any travel a typical user is likely to undertake. Without having performed rigorous Consumers Reports style testing, it is nonetheless possible to conclude with confidence that the case will shield a PowerBook from the damage that could be done by daily wear and tear. I previously used a case from JR Hill, in leather with very light padding, and it served its purpose perfectly for two years, with a Titanium PowerBook holding up just fine. This case appears to be better. I’ve also used neoprene cases. This case is much stiffer.

All in all, I’d recommend the Vyper case. The best statement I can make about it is that I intend to use it on a daily basis.

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