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Review ION CarbonShell and ION CarbonFibre MicePad

by Felix Sold, 06/26/2010

Black-Carbon. There are literally countless bags and cases for notebooks and particularly for Apple MacBooks. The American company, ION, supplies an extravagant carbon fiber and leather case. ION naturally charges an according price for the good workmanship and the high-end materials.

We've tested the ION CarbonShell and the CarbonFiber MicePad
We've tested the ION CarbonShell and the CarbonFiber MicePad

The ION CarbonShell is definitely not a run-of-the-mill case. The base material is a thick, high-quality plastic that is improved by a thin leather layer. The insides are very smooth and protect the MacBook against scratches or other hazards. The case's assembly is quite simple since it's made up of two parts. Our MacBook Pro (13 inch) is placed in the lower shell and the clips on the back catch it. The display cover works similarly: slight pressure is applied after closing. Four clips ensure grip in this area. A slight clacking when the display is opened is a drawback in construction. We would have welcomed a more elegant, or rather quiet, solution here.

ION has left an opening for the interfaces and they can be used without restrictions. Merely the integrated Kensington lock could cause problems because most locks don't have a very deep clutch. Our Kensington lock, fortunately, found a grip. Even the battery status LED on the left and the infrared interface as well as the activity indicator on the front has an unfettered view.

Four clips keep the display cover in place.
Four clips keep the display cover in place.
The bottom is also secured well.
The bottom is also secured well.

A special feature of the ION CarbonShell is the display's intricate protection lid. The exterior surface is laminated with a black carbon fiber, which has a very soft feel and a good workmanship. ION has placed two thin leather strips on the left and right to finish off the looks. The mandatory Apple logo, which shines in an activated state, isn't covered by the lid and glows subtly through the opening. The black cover matches perfectly to our aluminum MacBook Pro.
The warm waste heat of our laptop model is discharged over the display hinge. However, ION has implemented many cooling slots on the bottom that are to provide a bit of cooling in the case of a temperature increase of the notebook.

You can argue about the cases dead weight. The front and back weigh 380 grams, which are about 20% of the notebook weight in the case of the MBP13.
Just as open for criticism is the price. A proud price of around 90 US dollars (converted circa 73 euro) has to be paid for the 13 inch model. However, you receive a chic product with a good manufacturing and high-quality materials. The larger model for the MacBook Pro 15 inch has a price of about 10 US dollars more.

The battery LED and button are unfettered
The battery LED and button are unfettered
SuperDrive and Kensington lock
SuperDrive and Kensington lock
The Apple logo isn't covered
The Apple logo isn't covered

ION also has products and accessories for smartphones and netbooks, aside from Apple supplies. We have also ordered the CarbonFibre MicePad from ION. It is fairly small with a diagonal of 25 centimeters, but suitably sized for a mobile use. It would have to be a bit bigger for permanent use in the office, though.

The entire mouse pad surface is made of carbon fiber, which provides a very smooth and fast surface. Logitech's MX Revolution is moved easily on this surface. Nevertheless, the mouse pad's relatively small size is striking here, too. The mouse pad is fully sufficient for smaller mice, such as Apple's Magic Mouse or Logitech's Anywhere MX Mouse.

The mouse pad is also wrapped in leather, which makes a high-end impression on us. Decorative, black seams enhance the look even more and the design can convince us. Unfortunately, the materials and the workmanship also have its price for this product: You have push 70 US dollars over the virtual counter for the ION mouse pad.

Inconspicuous but carbon!
Inconspicuous but carbon!
Leather bottom side
Leather bottom side
Almost too small (MX Revolution)
Almost too small (MX Revolution)
Fits perfectly (VX Nano)
Fits perfectly (VX Nano)

Verdict

Overall, the ION CarbonShell and the matching ION CarbonFibre MicePad made a good impression. The case has been very well manufactured and the high-end materials speak for themselves. The assembly is easy and the devices functionality is upheld. It looks very good but a white carbon fiber version would certainly also fit well into the portfolio.

The mouse pad is also of high quality, but a bit too small for our taste. In return, it's perfectly suitable for mobile use because it only needs little place and has a low weight. The design has also turned out very well and is convincing.

The biggest point of criticism for these products is likely the steep price. The ION CarbonShell for the MacBook Pro with a 13 inch display costs about 90 US dollars and the little carbon and leather mouse pad around 70 US dollars. If money doesn't matter too much and design is important, ION's products are definitely not a bad choice.

Convincing products with a high standard but steep price.
Convincing products with a high standard but steep price.
In Review: ION CarbonShell and ION CarbonFibre MicePad
In Review: ION CarbonShell and ION CarbonFibre MicePad

Workmanship and materials are convincing, but the price is too high. Thus, we only reward it with "conditionally recommendable".

The intricate display lid is laminated with carbon fiber and enhanced with leather.
The intricate display lid is laminated with carbon fiber and enhanced with leather.
The bottom is also covered in leather and provides for good ventilation.
The bottom is also covered in leather and provides for good ventilation.
The interiors are very smooth and protect against scratching and other damaging.
The interiors are very smooth and protect against scratching and other damaging.
The ION CarbonShell is assembled and ready for use within 30 seconds.
The ION CarbonShell is assembled and ready for use within 30 seconds.
The ION CarbonFiber MicePad is very chic, but a bit too small.
The ION CarbonFiber MicePad is very chic, but a bit too small.

Shortcut

What we like

The high-end materials, the good workmanship, the very good looks and the very easy assembly.

What we miss

A white alternative and a remedy for the clacking while opening the display lid.

What surprises us

The low weight, the very good manufacturing and the steep price.

The competitors

Hard shell cases for current MacBooks. Amongst others, the Speck SeeThru-Satin Case and the Incase Hardshell Case, for example, and many more.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review ION CarbonShell and CarbonFibre MicePad
Author: Felix Sold, 2010-07- 2 (Update: 2012-05-26)