08 Sep Sleeves, Shells and Covers: Choosing the Best Chromebook Cases for Students
When choosing Chromebook cases for students, administrators can easily overlook design elements that leave problem areas unprotected.
Chromebook protection is serious business. Schools that invest in Chromebooks without buying cases realize their mistake when the repair bills start piling up. Schools that do buy cases often discover they’ve chosen products that leave the most vulnerable areas of a Chromebook completely exposed. Unlike typical consumers, students don’t need the most stylish or unique cases. They just need coverage that makes it difficult to drop, swing, pound, rattle, crush, bang or smash Chromebooks to an early death.
With so many products on the market, administrators may be tempted to choose the most affordable option without considering how the cases will function on a daily basis. A school may seem like a straightforward, reasonably safe environment, but any space filled with children, sharp, pointy objects, heavy objects, desks and hard floors are basically giant, hazard-filled obstacle courses for electronics. Compare these common case styles before making a purchase to save your school some cash (and frustration) in the long run.
Chromebook Sleeves Equal Basic Protection
Sleeves are exactly what they sound like: a soft, sheath that closely fits the Chromebook and zips closed to shield the computer’s exterior from scratches and minor bumps. They’re usually made from neoprene or another resilient, shock-absorbant material. And that’s about it.
Imagine a classroom filled with students using the Asus C202 Chromebook, which is moderately ruggedized with a rubber bumper, spill-resistant keyboard, scratch-resistant exterior and reinforced corners. Students settle down, get ready to work and pull out their computers. Yes, you read that right. They must completely remove the Chromebooks from the sleeves to open or use them, meaning the computer is reliant upon its inherent protective features throughout the day.
As always, there are some rare Chromebook sleeve designs that offer better padding, but in general, they are too thin and soft to prevent crush or impact damage when a Acer C740 collides with the floor or a Dell Chromebook 3120 gets shaken up like a bag of popcorn in a student’s backpack.
Chromebook Shells and Hard Cases Are a Gamble
Chromebook hard cases are custom fit for each device, providing the most lightweight and space-saving option. Schools often choose hard shells because they stay on the computer at all times (“always-on”) and offer more crush prevention than sleeves, making them more likely to survive a fall. Some hard cases are great and do exactly what the manufacturers claim, while others are purely decorative. These cases are usually made from rubber and plastic materials, but they’re so varied in quality that it’s essential to compare which parts of the Chromebook they protect.
For example, the Lenovo N21 and Lenovo N22 are drop-resistant up to 2.3 feet, so administrators may think it’s safe to choose a case with minimal bulk. However, the display, hinges and logic board are three of the most common Chromebook breakage points, and they can all misfunction if the computer suffers serious impact along the back and side edges. The majority of shells and hard cases leave the rear “spine” uncovered to allow smooth movement when opening and closing the lid.
Overall, hard cases can be effective, but only if they cover the most critical points on a Chromebook. Stick to hard cases that offers a specific promise of quality, such as a shock absorbance or drop rating, so the school can hold manufacturers accountable if the product is defective. Make sure the case wraps around the back of the Chromebook, and give extra consideration to shells that provide hinge and edge protection around the whole device. A great alternative to hard cases are fabric portfolio covers made from shock-absorbant and puncture-resistant material.
Chromebook Carry Cases Are Bulkier, But Safer
If your school is using a hard shell inside a sleeve (yes, some people do that), ask yourself why you’re spending twice the money for two cases when you can get the job done with one. Carry cases often get a bad rap for being bulky and requiring students to carry them outside of a backpack, but that’s exactly what students should be doing. As Chromebooks schools reduce the amount of books and physical supplies needed in the classroom, students should be able to scale down their daily cargo and focus on keeping their computers safe.
Carry cases are always-on and made from a variety of heavy-duty materials, such as military-grade nylon, making them the strongest and most reliable options. Many have handles and shoulder straps or a dual-case design that lets students use a lightweight interior cover without the outer bag. Since they offer all-around coverage and don’t interfere with Chromebook functionality, students have no reason to remove their Chromebooks and expose them to unnecessary hazards.
When choosing carry cases, make sure they allow adequate venting, unless your school is using a fanless Chromebook model. Pick manufacturers that clearly disclose the case materials and provide a brand promise or demonstration of the product’s effectiveness.
Choosing cases is never easy, as investing in the wrong product can steal a chunk of your tech budget. The most important thing is to devote as much consideration to your cases as the Chromebooks themselves, as these simple, yet utilitarian accessories can have significat impact on the success of your one-to-one program.
Dell Chromebook 11 | Acer C720 / C740 | Asus C200 | Lenovo Chromebook | HP Chromebook | MacBook Air | MacBook Pro