Review: Speck’s SeeThru Hard Shell for MacBook - Macenstein

Review: Speck’s SeeThru Hard Shell for MacBook

Above: Apples and “oranges”. (Get it? My Apple is orange? Never mind).

I’m fairly anal about keeping my stuff in pristine working order. I’m the guy who has all 2000 of his CDs alphabetized on his shelves, who always puts DVDs and video games back in their cases, never leaving them piled upside down to be put away “when I get around to it”. I’m also the kind of guy who puts a case on almost anything; my cel phone, my iPod, my iPhone, and now, thanks to Speck, my MacBook.

I found out about 2 hours after I got my new MacBook that it appears to be made of a very similar white plastic to the iPod – which, as everyone knows – scratches if you make too loud a sound near it. I figured, well, I have a case for my iPod (and it looks as good as when I bought it nearly 2 years ago) why not one for the MacBook?

Speck’s line of plastic SeeThru Hard Shells for the MacBook are designed to do two things. First, they are meant to protect your laptop from the daily nicks, bumps, and scratches that inevitably occur to your laptop, no matter how careful you think you are being. Second, they add a splash of much needed pizazz to the boring old white MacBook’s design. I’ll admit, I’m not thrilled with the stark white of the MacBook – I think it makes it look a bit like a toy, or a kid’s computer. I had considered buying the black MacBook, or even a MacBook Pro back when I was shopping for a laptop, but as I really was just going to be using the machine for blogging, I couldn’t quite justify paying the extra $400-1000 just to make it look better.

Of course, some would say making a white laptop bright orange makes it look even more like a toy, and maybe they’re right, but at least it looks like a cooler toy. And I guess at the end of the day, it is a toy anyway, isn’t it?

Oooohhhh it glows!

Speck’s Hard Shell comes in 7 colors (they count “clear” as a color) and is designed as a two-piece “snap on” system which perfectly fits your MacBook. Aside from the cutouts for ports, ventilation, and hinges, pretty much the entire exterior of your MacBook is covered.

Above: Speck cut out holes for ventilation, ports, and to make sure the MacBook’s screen can open up all the way.

My new “orange” Macbook reminds me a bit of the Tangerine “clamshell” iBook Apple released back in the 90’s, although the SeeThru case looks better, and (unlike the iBook’s coloring) can be easily removed if you get sick of it or want to go back to the boring old white.

Looks hot, stays cool

Surprisingly, we found the case did not add any noticeable temperature difference to the MacBook, which was a slight concern. What it does add is a bit of extra thickness which could be a problem for some users. In my case, my laptop bag is custom made to fit a 13-inch MacBook, not a 13-inch MacBook with a hard case on it. The extra couple millimeters might not seem like much, but they made it quite difficult to get my MacBook in and out of my bag at first. After a week or so though, the bag adjusted to the slight increase in girth, and I now have no problem using the SeeThru with the bag.


This is not so much an issue as a personal preference, but I feel the SeeThru really only looks its best on a white MacBook, so if you sprung for the black MacBook, most colors will appear a bit dark and not “pop” the way they do on white. Speck also makes a version of the SeeThru for the MacBook Pro’s, and while their silver works better than a black, a white MacBook is still the ideal system to slap these on (assuming you chose a color case, and not a clear one).

A couple people here mentioned that they would have preferred it if Speck had made the cases entirely smooth and not added the recessed bevel-like design on top. I actually like it, but I can see their point as well. Some people wish the MacBook came as-is, but in colors, and would like the Speck case to create that illusion. In general though, the overwhelming response when I pull out my orange MacBook has been very favorable, and I’ve pointed more than a few people to Speck’s site.

Finally, Speck recommends you remove the case often and check to make sure no “hard particles” of any type, (be they sand, dirt, cookie crumbs, etc.) have somehow managed to work their way through a port of vent hole and become trapped between the SeeThru and the MacBook. If one did, it could potentially lead to the the particle causing scratches as the MacBook shifts slightly. We’ve heard of similar reports with iPhones and iPods in acrylic cases, so the threat is a real one, I suppose. I have had my SeeThru case for about 3 weeks now, and have not experienced any foreign debris entering the case, but then my MacBook lives the life of a pampered veal calf, basically goes from home, into my bag, to work, out of the bag, then in the bag, then home again. If you do a lot of outdoor computing or off-road racing with your MacBook, you’ll want to keep an eye out and clean the SeeThru regularly. Removing the case is fairly easy, although you’ll need a credit card to work in between the snaps, and I always worry that constant removal of cases of this type (with plastic snaps) will eventually lead to one breaking off (although so far the Speck ones seem reasonably tough).


Apple’s MacBook is a simple, elegant machine, but it ain’t exactly a Toughbook. Protecting your MacBook from scratches, even if you lead a sedentary life such as myself, is no easy feat. The Speck SeeThru Hard Shell does a great job keeping your MacBook safe while at the same time allowing you to change the look of your laptop and let it stand out in a crowd.

Speck’s SeeThru Hard Shell for MacBook

Cost: $49.95

Pros: Great protection against scratches, 7 bright, vibrant colors to choose from (well, 6, really), does not add excess heat to the MacBook

Cons: Looks best only on a white MacBook, might make your MacBook just thick enough to not fit easily inside your laptop bag

9 Responses to “Review: Speck’s SeeThru Hard Shell for MacBook”
  1. Chris says:

    What is that laptop desk the Macbook is sitting on in the first photo?

  2. Hey Chris,

    it’s the mStand by Rain.

    -The Doc

  3. Trkracer says:

    I have the same case for my 15″ Macbook Pro and I love it! It adds a little zing, protects the case and is half of SU’s colors – the important one – Go Orangemen! Anyways, the case really is the bomb. I don’t even notice it’s on, it fits perfectly, the ports are not obstructed at all and it’s a fairly decent value, though at $50 for some plastic, I guess it could be a little cheaper. Great case though.

  4. Peter says:

    I went ahead and sprung for the Black Macbook when I did my ordering. The refurb section of the Apple was a great price reduction.

    But, even with the discounts, I still found myself with a near $1800 investment, that I didn’t want to get scratched.

    So, I got the clear Speck case, and was happy… Until I found that it hinders me opening my screen all the way.

    So, I passed it along to my brother, who has the white MacBook, and it does look a heap ton better.

    Only complaint was the lack of being able to open the screen more the 90 degrees.

  5. Richard says:

    This is a coincidence, I have a macbook pro with a RAM speck case and it looks awesome, I also prefer the extra grip I have on the smooth plastic then I do on the macbook pro’s own casing (cant explain why the smoother surface sticks better – it just does) anyway, I was after a Mstand for it but was worried that because i loose a few degrees of screen flip movement that when on the Mstand I wouldn’t be able to view the screen correctly.

    Do you have any issues with viewing the screen while on the stand? and in your opinion, how sturdy is the thing?


  6. Richard says:

    Whoops, this is why you shouldn’t do tech support while posting, I have a RED speck case, not a RAM one.. 😛

  7. Jason says:

    I’ve had a speck case for a couple of months now, but have had some problems with it. First, it didn’t fit quite right. I could never get all the little grips to catch on my Macbook Pro. I called the company and they aknowledged the problems, but said that since I had already been using the case for a week they couldn’t return or exchange it.

    Then, the SCRATCHES! My MBP is really scratched up, from all those solid particles getting under the case as you mentioned. Each time I put the case on I was sure to clean both it and the Mac, but didn’t seem to help. Just a week later, I took it off and there were LOTS of tiny little scratches, very clearly made by the case… needless to say, I was not happy. After spending $50 to buy a case to protect it, I end up worse off than before…

    I have eventually removed the case and found that I’m better off just being ‘careful’ than with the case on…


  8. Daniel says:

    I have the new MacBook (w/h Santa Rosa Chipset) and ordered the green Speck SeeThru Cover at Amazon. (where it costs around 27 Euro instead of 50 Euro at the german apple store).

    I really love it. It looks not to extrem colorful and it protects from scratches.

    btw: I ordered a neoprene “Tucano Second Skin”, which fits perfectly over the SeeThru Combination.




  9. Lindsey says:

    DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT! It scratched my cute little laptop up so badly that now it looks 10 years old! If you love you Mac, do not do not do not buy this product

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