by Michael J. Shapiro | December 01, 2011
LEVEL8 Slimcase
$59.99 (13-inch); $69.99 (15-inch)

G-Form Extreme Sleeve for Laptops
Because most of us haven't yet reached the point where we can just leave the laptop at home when traveling for business, we looked at a couple of innovative cases that ease the process for toting those old workhorses. The first, the LEVEL8 Slimcase, is a stylish, black, unisex neoprene laptop bag. Though scarcely larger than a laptop sleeve, it sports sturdy carrying handles, a padded shoulder strap and a back band for securing on a rolling luggage handle. The case offers a separated laptop compartment with durable bubble-wrap-like padding, as well as zippered accessory pockets and one larger document sleeve. It's an impressively efficient use of minimal space, all the more so because the bag is also TSA checkpoint-friendly: Just open up the main zipper and lay the bag flat on the security belt, and there's no need to remove the laptop from its cozy compartment. We traveled through quite a few airports throughout the Americas with not one security-personnel request that we remove the MacBook within.

For those who travel further off the beaten path -- or perhaps are just particularly clumsy with their electronics -- G-Form offers protection in the form of the Extreme Laptop Sleeve. Producers of protective padding for skateboarders and bikers, G-Form has some credibility in the "extreme" department. So it's no coincidence that the company's laptop sleeves (as well as their iPad cases) bear more than a passing resemblance to kneepads. What's great about the sleeve is that it's soft, flexible and extremely lightweight. Rather than protecting your technology like a fortress, the G-Form material absorbs shock -- "changing its molecular structure on impact," as the company claims.

Now, G-Form doesn't guarantee the safety of one's electronics, and we didn't want to risk one of our own company laptops to the most extreme test. But we do recognize an opportunity for a good time, so we substituted a framed piece of artwork under glass for the laptop and tossed the sleeve off of a balcony about 13 feet above street level. The result? Aside from startling a couple of passers-by (who were a safe distance away), there was no damage. The case hit the ground with a satisfying thud, and the frame and glass remained intact. (See our review of the G-Form cases here; visit G-Form's website for more dramatic videos that feature actual laptops and iPads.)