Review: Uncommon Deflector for MacBooks

by on March 31, 2014

Although Apple’s portable computers are rather resilient, people still want to find ways to prevent scratches and dings on the aluminum surface. A popular accessory has been the hard shell case, often a plastic shell that snaps on a few key areas and protects the computer from cosmetic damage. These can also give an otherwise familiar-looking MacBook some personality and provide a empty canvas for stickers. Although the popular models seem to come from companies like Speck and Incase, iPhone case manufacturer Uncommon offers its own version, the Deflector.

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The Deflector, which was carried at some Apple Retail Stores, sells for $50 and is available for all MacBook Airs, the 13″ MacBook Pro, and the 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. As Apple’s machines have gotten thinner and with tighter tolerances, we suspect that many manufacturers are going to have to rethink their formula for Apple’s future machines. The Deflectors are available in a variety of frosted color choices, including black, clear, pink, blue, and orange. The overall texture of the plastic feels good, provides a bit of grip, and won’t show minor scratches and wear as easily as glossy designs. Deeper or more severe wear may be more apparent as the matte finish will give way to glossy texture.

The bottom of the Deflector features large, generously-sized rubber feet to elevate your computer just a bit and provide additional airflow underneath. Although the plastic does add additional “insulation” to the computer’s aluminum shell, we didn’t notice any drastic change in temperature—most of the cooling is done through the rear vent anyway.

The case itself is rather understated. Edges are well-shaped, and there’s even a slight notch around the MagSafe connector to accommodate the later L-shaped connectors. The Uncommon logo is rather small and slightly embossed in the corner of the lid cover. All ports have plenty of clearance, as does the optical drive and security slot (on the 13″ Pro model). The battery meter is a bit tough to push, but is still usable in those rare instances.

Critics of hard shell cases will often complain about the cases themselves causing scratches or damage over time. The biggest recommendation from all manufacturers is to periodically remove the case and clean it and the computer. Often dust, dirt, and debris will get between the two, and eventually cause wear. Unless you work in an especially dirty environment, cleaning the case once a month or two should be sufficient.

The Deflector snaps in place rather easily—the bottom portion snaps on the computer and has an attachment tab on each end of the palm rest. There’s also two tabs in the rear corners. To remove, these are the easiest to undo first. As for the top half, it’s held in place with tabs around the perimeter of the screen—there are two on the bottom, two on each side, and one on the top. Four rubber bumpers are on the inside of the shell to keep it from coming in direct contact with your computer’s lid. Unlike some earlier hard shell cases, the Deflector is surprisingly easy to remove from the lid.

Due to the additional plastic, the lid can’t open quite as far, but still should be comfortable for most users. We did notice some wear on the matte finish where the lid-half comes in contact with the bottom half of the computer. The computer itself received no damage. This seems to be the case with a lot of these type of cases, as the aluminum of the computer lid rubs against the plastic of the bottom shell. On the glossy ones, the wear is a little less noticeable, since it just dulls the finish. Our only other complaint is the price—it seems all manufacturers charge quite a bit for a plastic shell that really would be a bit more palatable at $10-$15 less.

The particular Deflector that was tested was for the 13″ MacBook Pro (non-Retina) and has been in place for a significant portion of the last few months. Other than the scuffs in the contact area, it has held up nicely and has not caused any damage to my computer. If you are looking for a hard shell case for your MacBook, it might be good to look for something a bit more uncommon.

The One-Sentence Verdictâ„¢

Uncommon’s Deflector offers a good mix of design, personality, and protection for a good chunk of the MacBook-using population.

Pros: Protects MacBook aluminum from scratches and wear, large feet, good design

Cons: Matte finish may show more severe wear more easily, pricey

The Facts

4/5Product: Deflector for MacBooks
Company: Uncommon
Platform: MacBook Air (2010+), MacBook Pro (13″), MacBook Pro with Retina Display (15″)
Price: $49.95

This post has been filed in 'Book Accessories and Reviews