Back when we first took a look at Thule's $50 Gauntlet rugged and protective sleeve for the MacBook Pro, it lefts us so impressed that we gave it our Editors' Choice award. Since then Thule has come out with the Attache, a more capable carrying case with just the same amount of hard hitting styling Thule oh so loves at a highly protective package. If you thought Thule's MacBook Pro sleeve was awesome, the Attache is a very promising addition to Thule's growing bag collection for portables. Is it a sleeve, a messenger bag or a briefcase? You'd be surprised to find out in the full review past the jump!
The Attache comes in both a 15-inch version we've gotten to test out as well as in a 13-inch version designed to fit both a MacBook Pro and an iPad at $79.99. Or for Android and PC users, any other similar combination of a laptop and a tablet really.
At first glance, the Attache case looks like an ordinary sleeve from a head on prospective. But it's only when looking at it from the side is when you'll start to notice how much different this case really is. Of course there's no denying how great this case looks. Thule's design esthetics hasn't disappointed us before and every single bag the company makes is a real hit amongst travel geeks of all ages. The Attache like all of Thule's protective carrying case offerings has that future-proof design. It just looks so esthetically pleasing, especially when you're into sci-fi movies. Because every time you take a look at this case, you can't help but think about a futuristic weapon cradle.
The Attache can be considered to be a hybrid mix of a sleeve, messenger bag and a briefcase which makes it a versatile option to carry more than just your MacBook Pro around with you. What I really like about this case is that it isn't so much of a bulky messenger type of bag, but it has that default clamshell curved body which can store a few items without really changing size like an ordinary bag will. It comes with a highly padded, vented foam shoulder strap that can be attached for a messenger bag style carry while the handles serve as another option for hand carry. It feels like you're carrying a briefcase when using the handles more than just carrying around a sleeve with handles. You'll want to take into account that although the Attache can store more than just your MacBook Pro, it doesn't have the storage capacity of a traditional messenger bag like the Thule Crossover. And whatever carrying method you'll end up using, the Attache's handles and shoulder strap are equally robust and very comfortable to use.
A side by side comparison between the Attache and the Gauntlet sleeve (also known as TAS-115) shows the size difference, mainly in thickness. The Attache is significantly more bulky, however in its defence it can carry more than just a MacBook Pro and features carrying handles and shoulder strap attachment.
The Attache has the same semi-rigid exterior shell as the more simple Gauntlet MacBook Pro sleeve that is water-resistant along with water-resistant zipper that's great for all-weather use. I'm pleased to say that it is indeed water-resistant as long as you don't over stuff the Attache more than it can handle causing the water-resistant zipper to expand and let water in.
Opening up the Attache gives you straight, full access to the main compartment which snugly fits and cradles the MacBook Pro under a stretchy strap that keeps it even more secured inside while being carried upside down. You can fully open up the Attache for easy access or when wanting to use your Mac without having to take it out of the case at all. There are straps on either side to keep the half side of the Attache from completely opening up and help keep the Attache opened in a clamshell angle. Right to the opposite side is another compartment which is lightly padded using foam and specifically designed to fit an iPad or iPad 2 with a slim case on. Right off the bat, there's a whole lot of leg room here than you find on Thule's Gauntlet sleeve.
The same flap that cradles your iPad is also home to a second compartment which is securely closed using a velcro tab. The Attache's significant advantage here is that it can store your charger and a few cables along with various other little gadgets like battery chargers, an iPod or two, iPhone, portable hard drive and even portable headphones if you've got the ones that can fold up and sit flat. There's isn't much room to fit headphones like the Incase Sonic due to the Attache's slanted style. It does take some advance planning as the bottom is wider than the top so you need to be a bit creative when it comes to fitting your stuff inside for the ride. As I've said earlier, the Attache doesn't like to expand like an ordinary bag so over stuffing isn't an option here. And that is really the sole caveat if you will, that I have about the Attache case.
The secondary compartment is also home to three stretchable mesh pockets big enough to keep your USB charging cables, smartphone and other various personal stuff at bay. Everyone has their own use for such pockets I'm sure.
Thule's Gauntlet sleeve has been my primary MacBook Pro sleeve until I started using the Attache case. I found that having the ability to carry a bit more but still retain the same cool factor, just the right amount of storage, rugged protection and great all-weather performance are the main decision factors that have persuaded me to switch sides. And that holds true if you're looking for that versatile carrying case that boasts a few extra options and can carry both your iPad and Mac plus a few cables, chargers and even portable headphones being that you've got one of those that fold up and sit flat. The Attache is a very good option that might not suit everyone's needs, but if you like what you see, then this is definitely a perfect protective case to use. For being a favorite of ours, we can highly recommend the Attache with our coveted Editors' Choice award.