If I had started this review last week my opinion on Apple products would be far more negative than it is right now. I was always under the assumption that their products were under powered and over priced. Selling on things I didn’t care about, like usability, or things I can get elsewhere cheaper, like aesthetics, but my cousin and I have started recording again and he wanted a new laptop. Apple used to be the go to option for any kind of creative endeavor, they are not these days, so I tried to convince him to get a PC instead.
I did my research, weighed the pros and cons and came to the conclusion that the Unibody mid 2012 i7 MacBook Pro might be the best laptop on the market for an on the go DAW. My opinion on the latter day builds still stands, for the most part, but that model really knocks the competition out of the water, even today. If you decide to go with a latter day model you are going to come across a variety of issues, chief among them the lack of ports. The fact is, Apple has always been about usability, which means fewer and fewer things to screw up. The removal of many common ports fits into their style very well, but it can leave consumers scratching their heads, wondering why they would do this. If you need to connect a newer MacBook to a non USB-C port you used to have to buy a new adapter for ever kind of cable, not the case now with the DockCase.
The key thing for me here is the added functionality as an all in one option. I know that if you go to the Apple store to buy an expansion dongle you are spending $30 a pop, for a single extension. This addresses the needs of the user in a broad spectrum way. Making it a carry case for the MacBook was a smart move as well, as it allows you to carry everything you need in the same profile, retaining the form factor of the MacBook proper.
So let’s get into the review proper, first with a look at who we are buying this thing from, or who we will eventually be buying this thing from.
DockCase For MacBook Design and Build Quality
Out of the box the fist thing you notice is the quality of the materials used. Leaving aside the novel features for a second, using this as a simple travel case is still a smart move. It uses microfiber leather, which is not real leather folks so no need to worry about the poor cows. Microfiber is the highest grade that faux leather comes in, and is known for being very hard wearing, as well as pleasing to the touch. It lacks leathers distinctive smells, which is a boon for some, but I like the smell of the real stuff. Microfiber leather also resists mold, has minor anti bacterial properties as well as a tensile strength higher than real leather. The DockCase only comes in the one color right now, a kind of muted black, and while that’s nice, I do think that there is a market for a variety of colors and designs, we’ll see how the stretch goals come out, but if that is not one of them I will be shocked.
In the box, in addition to the case itself, there is a USB Type C connector cable and a manual. The manual folds out, has lots of pictures too, but set up is simple enough. You plug the USB type C into cable from one into the other. Once plugged in you have access to a wide rang of ports. Going from left to right, there is an Ethernet port, a HDMI port, The USB-C for charging, the USB-C for transferring, a trio of USB 3.0 ports and a pair of card readers, one for standard SD and another for Micro SD. The full compliment.
The DockCase is built to hold not only your MacBook but also whatever additional cables you might need, chief among them the included USB-C connector cable. My main issue with that is the fact that the case is malleable. You slide a few cables in there and the whole thing becomes bent out of shape. I would like to see an extra semi-rigid layer covering the lower section, the length of a 15″ MacBook Pro might be good. That way it maintains the nice slim line aesthetic it’s got going on. A minor issue, and one that I am sure the designers are considering before kicking off with their Kickstarter.
Another thing that is nice to see if the variety of colors offered. For a lot of Kickstarter based products you are stuck with a standard color due to the costs associated with multiple options. That’s not the case with the Dockcase, which offers 4 different color options. These include Burgundy Red, Umber Brown, Coffee Brown, & Midnight Black. Personally I’m partial to the Burgundy Red look but all 4 color schemes look great in my opinion.
Overall I am a fan of this form factor. The product addresses a need for consumers, and I would imagine that folk on the fence about getting the latest MacBook might be swayed by the very existence of the DockCase. There are issues with the current build of the product, the malleability and the current lack of style options, but as a point of departure for the firm it is a solid one. Should be interesting to see how they move forward with the Kickstarter.
One thing I wanted to make note of is how you can place your Type-C connector cable in the dockcase. Without really thinking about it I figured the connector cable went right in the flap of the case however Dockcase was a step ahead in this regard. They actually created a specific slot inside of the case for placing the cable making it a seemless option for storing the cable. You can see how it should correctly be stored by viewing the image below.
DockCase Pricing and Warranty
The current price of the DockCase if you take part in the Kickstarter is $69.99, which is excellent. I have looked into buying the adapters separately, and you would end up spending well over $200 depending on your needs. It makes me wonder if Apple left a few of these things off in order to make adapters a new revenue stream, but the backlash over such a move would no doubt be huge if it ever came to light. That $69.99 price is an early bird incentive though, and right now the price of the DockCase when it actually goes on sale the msrp is set at $129. Considering what you get that is still a great price, just not as nice as the $69.99 offer during the kickstarter.
DockCase offer a 12 month replacement warranty on all purchases. Considering what I would dub normal use for an out and about product like this that is an amazing deal. I do not have the warranty information on other products similar to the DockCase though, nor have I found many products that offer a similar solution in this form factor, so I cannot compare it to other options on the market. Regardless, a great warranty out of the gate.
Overall to be expected. The price is the real star here, even at the post release price point. The warranty information is a little light on the ground, but seen as the product is not currently for sale that is at least forgivable. Rest assured I will be paying attention to DockCase for a while yet, seeing how they plan on placating consumers, making sure that folk are being treated fairly by the firm.
There is a real need for a product like this, so much so that I am surprised that no one else is really doing this. Granted, the user base of the latest MacBook Pro might not be all that high, but even the last two generations can benefit from the DockCase. the materials used are high quality, the functionality is amazing, and the price, as of right now, is very affordable. If you have a MacBook Pro and want to get a little more out of it, or you are thinking about upgrading, then this is your first port of call.