Steve Sande is normally our Pad & Quill guru, but when the new Cartella Linen came along, he had one sent out to me for a test drive.
I took a look at the leather-bound Cartella nearly a year ago with my smaller MacBook Air, and the larger linen-bound one is much the same. Instead of covered in leather, it features American Buckram cloth that's used in binding books. You have your choice of red or black.
As with previous models, the interior tray is made of Baltic Birch, with cutouts to hold the MacBook Air in place and rubber bumpers to create a tight fit. The ports are easily accessed, and a slash pocket can hold papers. A thick elastic band secures the case.
Like all their cases, the Cartella Linen is handmade in Minneapolis.
The Baltic Birch wood shell that holds the MacBook Air in place has been redesigned, and it's a lot more secure than the version I tried last year. When I knocked the case a bit too hard in the older model, the computer easily slid out. With the Cartella Linen, I was able to hold my MacBook Air in the case upside down, and it stayed put (note, do not try this at home.) It wouldn't come out unless I gave the case a really sharp shake. The linen Cartella also comes with extra bumpers in case you need to customize the fit, but I didn't need them. I carried the Cartella around my day job with the lid open all the time, something I hesitated to do when testing the older case.
Folded back, the case is the perfect angle for typing, whether it's being held on a lap or sitting on a table. The one thing I do worry about with the linen model is the top half of the case curving. I do a lot of typing at home with my laptop in my lap, and after three days of testing, the top of the Cartella case has buckled a bit to account for the uneven surface. When you close the laptop, the case no longer lies flat over the lid. It's something that might bother some users, and I'm curious as to how the case is going to hold up over time as a result.
The Cartella Linen folded back after regular lap use (bottom) vs. the regular Cartella
There's enough airflow when the laptop is in the case that the MacBook Air is running much cooler. I've yet to have the fans kick on while using my MacBook Air while in the case, which is a huge bonus.
I've really enjoyed reviewing the Cartella Linen, in a lot of ways even more so than the original. The better-fitting wood shell makes the case rock-solid, though I am concerned about the cloth-bound top portion of the case giving out after long-term use. It's practical, sturdy and looks great in my bag when heading to work, the bookstore, the coffee shop, or any place you want to tote your MacBook Air. It's a solid addition to the Cartella line.