Unbreakable - the netbook/netbook case edition
October 15, 2009 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Unbreakable netbooks/netbook cases?: I've realised the one feature I really need in a $350 netbook, is one I can get a case for one so I don't *break* it...

I'm looking for a netbook, $300-$350ish range.
I had a bunch of criteria I was originally looking on, good battery, good keyboard, preferably matt/good screen.
Eg I'd been tempted by the sweet-looking Red MSI U123, or an ASUS Eee PC 1005HA or something,
but I realised...

What I REALLY need in a netbook, is one I won't break or lose.

Either rugged out of the box OR
a really good case.

Not a slipcover, or a bag I take it out of, but something it stays permanently in -
either a bag that it can usably be permanently strapped in,
or some kind of snap on case (like the Macally Protection Shell for Macbooks? If that is effective?),
or a rubber case?

Worst case, I'm trying to figure out whether I could pad the corners and sides with padded foam tape for the enevitable knocks and jostles.

Added extra: preferably something in a bright color, so I don't lose it.
Yeah, so, think, the ideal ADHD case? ;P

PS I'm aware that a SSD harddrive would be more rugged, but I'm reluctant to sacrifice the capacity...
posted by Elysum to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can get hardshell cases for almost all netbooks, sure. See here..

But two things:

(1) If you get a shiny pretty cover, who cares if the netbook itself is pretty red or boring black? Nobody will ever see it anyway.

(2) Have you considered just deliberately getting a cheap netbook so that when you drop it you can get a replacement? I just got a $190 one, and that is so cheap that I know if I lose it or accidentally sit on it I won't cry much, because a replacement is cheap.
posted by rokusan at 4:38 PM on October 15, 2009

Hardshells - Cool! No MSI one, but available for asus 1005ha

Can anyone indicate how effective they are? Ie do they provide any knock protection? Or just scratch protection?
They look great, but I'm wondering if some kind of padding would help?

Ideally, I'm thinking a hard shell STUCK ON with strips of padding, but it would have to be sized for that initially.

1) Yes!
Sorry, the note about the colour was actually for the case or computer, whichever is on the outside. :)

2) Replacement won't be as easy. I'm actually in NZ, and will be buying one while I am travelling in the states, as it's about 30% markup here over the US cost, and a more limited range.
Still, where'd you get a $190 one?
posted by Elysum at 4:48 PM on October 15, 2009

posted by adamrice at 4:50 PM on October 15, 2009

Have you looked at Pelican cases? Seriously durable, absolutely water tight, will float if you drop it in the ocean, and come in bright orange so easy to find. They include a foam insert that you can remove bits from to make it snugly fit your netbook. Downside is that they're bulky so you'll lose some of the size advantage of your netbook. I took my MacBook Pro on a kayak trip in one of these, to give you an idea of how much I trust them.
posted by Emanuel at 4:50 PM on October 15, 2009

Not exactly what you asked I know, but my white Samsung N120 is fantastic, and I recently saw it on sale for $319. The reviews made me steer clear of the eeePCs when I found out the tiny partition they put the OS on (for Windows versions) means that Windows update will actually max out your hard disc and cause major problems.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:50 PM on October 15, 2009

The HP Mini 5101 might satisfy the "really good case" requirement, but it starts at $400, and the only color is black AFAICT. Typically, "rugged" laptops are targeted at business users, who aren't exactly clamoring for hot pink cases. Perhaps you could put stickers on a drab-but-durable netbook to make it more noticeable?

Also, the reliability advantages of consumer-grade SSDs are overblown, arguably. And many laptops now have accelerometers that park the heads of conventional disks in the event of sudden acceleration.
posted by scatter gather at 5:16 PM on October 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I know you said a permanently on case but just thought I'd mention kitchen containers as a cheap solution to try.

I can't find a link, but I think it was on one of these lifehack type sites, someone had a netbook in a plastic kitchen container...you know the transparent type with a snap on lid.
posted by Not Supplied at 5:19 PM on October 15, 2009

Back when I was netbook shopping, the conventional wisdom was that the Lenovo models had the best build quality, though people who were concerned with this question often mentioned the metal cases on some HP models.
posted by box at 5:27 PM on October 15, 2009

If rugged is your primary concern you could look into used Panasonic Toughbooks. You won't be getting a speed-demon for that price but on eBay right now I see one with a Buy It Now for $350 US with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 M processor, 1GB RAM, 40GB HD, and XP. That seems like a solid buy, not that I'd recommend buying a laptop from eBay, especially not overseas.
posted by 6550 at 7:39 AM on October 16, 2009

Marked scatter gather as best answer:
I was wanting a 'professional-ish-looking' netbook, which was why I was originally looking at MSI's red - bright, yet designed that way, over er, stickers (or god forbid, pink - I think I'd 'accidentally' leave it under a truck somewhere...).

But, I hadn't known about the accelerometers.

With that in mind, Lenovo had some, but on tiny hard-drives (at least where I was looking).

The current-best-of-breed with an accelerometer on the hard-drive to turn it off in the event of vibration/free fall, is the Toshiba NB205, which is what I'm typing on now.

My I have to say, my tempting second choice, was the Samsung Go N310 - in Mint blue, which I found via drjimmy11's Samsung rec. Apparently really well built, slightly rubbery cover, but in the end - the Toshiba's accelerometer swung it (although yes, it does run quite hot and the top screen is a little 'bendy').

For a case, I got the 'CaseCrown Double Memory Foam Netbook Pouch (Wasabi Green Faux Suede)' as it's memory foam, and unlike other netbook sleeves, it opens fully and has clear corner straps so you don't have to take it out. However, this hasn't arrived so I haven't had a chance to test it.

Cheers for all your help!
posted by Elysum at 1:27 AM on October 29, 2009

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