The MacBook Air is a fine looking machine. It’s actually pretty enough not to want to put a case on it at all, but most people just can’t bear to leave it unprotected. That’s where the Cartella from Pad & Quill comes in.
It’s a beautiful Italian leather and Baltic birch case for the 11″ MacBook Air that is put together like a bound book. It’s a unique and beautiful way to protect your MacBook Air without a lot of bulk.
You may be familiar with Pad & Quill from the Contega iPad case we reviewed a few weeks ago. We were pleased overall with the quality and care that was put into that case and we’re happy to say that the Cartella is just as nicely done.
In fact, some of the complaints that we had about the Contega, like the fact that it felt relatively heavy and suffered from a bit of shift of the front flap, don’t apply here at all.
The Cartella is roughly the size of a large sketchpad, maybe an inch wider and longer than the MacBook Air it’s designed to house. It actually rates as one of the least bulky hard cases that I’ve seen for a laptop in a long time, which is surprising considering that it’s a ‘specialty’ case and not specifically touted as thin or light.
The exterior cover is black leather that is only broken by the enclosure band and the newly designed Pad & Quill logo, which is thankfully embossed and not printed.
The interior features a frame of layered birch which is handsome and well sealed. The MacBook fits into the frame nicely, ending up snug without feeling like it will damage it. There is critical thought on display with the frame as well, as the ‘front’ edge features two small pads that level out the natural slope of the Air as it sits, making the keyboard flush with the edge of the frame.
The back edge is chamfered nicely to allow you to open the screen 20-25 degrees past 90, making it quit comfortable even if you sit well above your keyboard. There are also cutouts on the sides that give you complete access to the ports.
There is also a pocket on the inside cover, but I found it too cramped to comfortably fit a full 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper inside. It should work fine for folded sheets or small notebooks like Field Notes.
When the MacBook is loaded up in the Contega, it feels solid, like a nicely bound ledger or heavy drawing paper pad.
The top cover has some flex, but is still relatively stiff. The bottom is nicely rigid. The front edge of the cover does bow up a bit, but Pad & Quill told me that is done intentionally to keep the overall case as thin as possible. While you would obviously not want to treat it too roughly, it felt sturdy enough throughout its use that I would think that it could easily protect your MacBook from normal bumping and banging and probably short drops.
The Contega is another great case from Pad & Quill, who we have found to consistently offer well designed products, executed with a sure hand. It’s small enough to fit in many bags designed to fit an 11″ MacBook Air, but works extremely well as a standalone grab-and-carry.