MacBooks suffer under weight of decorative shells

Idanis Perez,19, studies at the student center on the campus of Georgetown University last week. She bought a red shell for her MacBook to protect her computer from dirt and scratches. Some shell owners and tech experts say the shells do more harm than good. (WTOP/Jamie Slater)

Jamie Slater, special to

WASHINGTON – Walk into any local coffee shop and you’ll see a sea of MacBooks with hot pink, teal or other brightly colored covers. The decorative hard-shell cases are sold in Apple stores across the country for their protective qualities, but they might be doing more harm than good.

Screens that wiggle back and forth or laptops that won’t stay open are common complaints from case users. Other MacBooks overheat or have damaged wires.

“Because of all the problems I’ve had with the cases, anybody that asks me, I tell them ‘Don’t get it’,” says Jeff Lauterette, vice president and owner of Mid Atlantic Consulting, Inc., based in Springfield, Va. “It’s not worth taking the chances.”

Though consumers and tech experts alike report that the cases damage the laptops, manufacturers like Speck deny their products cause any problems.

The two-part plastic or rubber cases cost about $50, while a MacBook Pro starts at $1,299. The case snaps onto the base of the laptop and the back of the screen. The extra weight on top strains the laptop’s hinge, causing permanent damage for some users.

After covering her MacBook Pro with a Speck case for a year, Georgetown University student Kate Murray, 21, tried to take it off

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