PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System: Perfect for those MacBooks without Kensington lock slots

Finally, I have a way to lock my 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display to a heavy metal chair, thanks to the PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System (MSRP of US$29.99, generally available for less than $20).

Back when I got my first 13-inch MacBook Air shortly after they arrived on the scene on January 29, 2008, I was thrilled about the design -- it was thin, light and quiet. But there was one thing that bothered me -- there was no Kensington lock slot on the side or back of the device that I could use my lock with to anchor it to hotel furniture. Since then, my solution has been either to lock the MacBook Air in a hotel safe (that actually worked very well with the 11-inch Air I bought later) or carry it with me everywhere.

Fast-forward to 2013, when my employer bought me a nice 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. While it's speedier than the Air and has much more capacity and screen real estate, it's also heavier and thicker, and I really don't like to carry it around. In keeping with Jony Ive's seeming dislike for little slots that can be used with locks (the new Mac Pro is missing one as well), the MacBook Pro is also slot-free. I had to find a solution that would work for travel...

One of my cohorts pointed me toward MacLocks, but I had two problems with that solution. First, they were charging $59.99 for the product and second, it required screwing a case to my MacBook Pro. No, I don't personally own the MBP, so there's no way I was going to remove screws and then attach a case to it.

The only other solution was the PNY ThinkSafe MacBook Locking System. What it uses in place of the Kensington slot or a case screwed onto the MacBook Pro is a thin, curved, hardened stainless steel band that snakes down into the opening between the keyboard and the screen. There are actually three bands included with the MacBook Locking System -- one for MacBook Air, one for MacBook Pro and one for MacBook Pro with Retina display. A small drawstring bag to wrap up the cable, lock and band is included with the system.

Once that metal band is dropped down into the gap, you can close the cover of your laptop without worrying about it scratching the screen or otherwise causing issues. Being the paranoid person that I am, I covered the top of the small tab that sits between the keyboard and screen with a piece of electrical tape just in case it actually contacts the display.

The lock is a typical four-digit combination lock with a small "hook" on one end that grabs a slot in the end of the metal band. Wrap the cable around something heavy and unable to be lifted, snap the hook onto the metal band and spin the combo lock, and you're ready to leave your Mac in a hotel room unattended.

Sure, I figure that a really dedicated thief could probably just bring a cable cutter and clip the cable, then worry about getting the lock off later with a little liquid nitrogen or something, but at least this keeps the amateurs from committing a crime of opportunity.


Faced with an "unlockable" design, first with the MacBook Air and then with the MacBook Pro, PNY has come up with a locking solution for these thin laptops that works well. My only concern is that the flat metal "top" of the band that's inserted between the keyboard and display might result in some abrasion of the screen or keyboard, so users may wish to cover the metal with another material like tape.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible