Review: Built NY Laptop Portfolio Case

by James Bain May 25, 2007

I have been lugging my MacBook Pro to and from work for about six months in one backpack or another and really haven’t taken any time to think, “why?” I have a computer at work. I only occasionally use my own computer, or need to use my own computer, so why do I carry it around? I really don’t know. I could probably get by with just my iPod, but for some unfathomable reason I insist on carrying my technological world around with me. It’s a security thing I guess.

That being said, I’m always willing to revisit things, am always willing to look at alternatives to being a big laptop case guy.

Built NY sent me one of their Laptop Portfolio cases to look at and at first pass I can say I’m fairly impressed.

I’m a sucker for good materials and Built NY has used a very heavy grade wet suit material that’s adequate in most cases to keep divers safe from coral abrasion. If it’s good enough for the diver, then it’s good enough for the diver’s laptop! The neoprene-like Strong-Rib material is thick enough that it provides very substantial padding. Not up to a 2 meter drop test, but certainly good enough for commute-duty work, tossed in the back seat of your vehicle, or carried and jostled on a bus or subway. The exaggerated bone shape of the thing—look at the picture—does, surprise surprise, actually provide a noticeable corner protection. Neat idea. I like it!

The whole case is made of this Strong-Rib material, which gives it a very specific look, and smell. When I unpacked the case initially, my desk was overwhelmed with that new wetsuit smell that, to divers, is the odor of optimism and new gear. To those not so olfactorily indoctrinated, it might seem a bit strong. If the smell bugs you at all, put it away for a couple of days and it quickly fades.

The case has two pouches, one for the laptop, obviously, and one for associated cables and stuff. This is not a brief case, it is a portfolio case, and the difference between the two is basically size. A portfolio is a thing to carry a little pile of papers around in. A brief case is a case for carrying briefs, legal briefs. We all know that lawyer-type folks tend to use a lot of paper, so these are pretty bulky cases. Well, that’s at least where the names originally came from, but the sizes are representative.

The Built NY portfolio is NOT what you’ll pack your laptop, lunch, penny loafers, spare monkey wrenches, and last nine months’ worth of National Geographic magazines in. There are monster cases available for that sort of use. A portfolio case is meant to carry just the bare minimum you’ll need—laptop and cables, maybe a pack of gum—to go see a client and not look like a wayward Sherpa or shaved Wookie packrat.

I like it. It’s sized for my MacBook Pro, has a definite “styled” look to it, and definitely stands out in an understated way in a crowd. There’s a slim shoulder strap provided, if you want to use one, but it’s not padded. It doesn’t have to be.

I keep hearing Disney’s Baloo singing “Bear Necessities” when I pack this, but it’s true. If it doesn’t fit in this bag, or in your pockets, you probably don’t want to bring it along.

I give it an 85% for its novel and personal design. It’s definitely strong in its niche and price point ($69.99 MSRP).

It’s rare for a different looking bag to come my way, buy Built NY has done so. Very nice!

If you’re going to buy this from the company’s own website, take a look at the rest of their Strong-Rib line. They’ve got water-bottle carriers, lunch bags (love to have one of those!), baby accessory carriers, pretty much anything you can reasonably make out of heavy duty wetsuit material. All look slick and all are worth considering as a purchase upgrade.


  • Although more male-friendly muted colors are available it’s style rating almost certainly depends on your gender in addition to vibrant stripes and dots. -Gauthier, Houghtaling and Williams

    GHWLegal had this to say on Aug 09, 2011 Posts: 9
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