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Protect Your Retina Macbook Pro / MacBook Air From Theft: Part 1 - Kensington lock alternatives

Updated on December 13, 2014
Protect your MacBook from theft
Protect your MacBook from theft | Source

Intro

So, you made up your mind!
You compared all options and decided whether you go for the new Retina MacBook Pro or MacBook Air (Review and Comparison here).


However you have to realise that Apple, in order to get these MacBooks that thin, had to give up on the Kensington lock option.

If you do not exclusively use your Macbook at home, and why would one buy a notebook then in the first place, you have to find a way to protect it from all kinds of non-legit “admirers”.

The big question here is: "How to protect your data and laptop from disappearing in a cafe, library, open office or school?"

First you need to understand, there is no absolute security!

What you should do, is combine several methods to make it as hard as possible for thieves to grab your notebook. And if they ever get hold of it, how to protect your data and even apply methods to locate and reclaim your precious Apple.

Levels of security

Let’s have a look at the different levels of security that are available to you.

  1. Theft protection
    Here we are looking at some hardware options, which physically connect your laptop to a place, so that a casual by-passer won’t have an easy chance to grab your notebook and run for it. Basically we are looking at “Kensington lock” alternatives.

  2. Data protection
    In this article we will checkout what Apple has in store for us to protect the content on the disk of your Macbook, such as word documents, excel files, emails, photos and so on.
    Hint: This is all for free and is something for every Mac computer owner, not only rMBP and Macbook Air!

  3. Trace a stolen Macbook
    If it comes to the worst and somebody got hold of your property - despite all taken measures - you can still do something to trace the thief down and retrieve your laptop. In this last part we get deeper into some services which cover this topic.


In this article of the series I go deeper into the hardware options you have.

The next article will cover the data protection and tracing options.

Hardware extensions

There is a billion different offers for Kensington locks out there.

But if you try to find something for the super-thin Retina MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air, you will soon find out, these options are very limited. And some of them have major flaws.

As the proud owner of a new Retina MacBook Pro 13” I was, were you are right now.
I did a lot(!) of research and found some options of today's market, but also researched how safe and practical they are.


Safe a lot of time and see what I found:

  1. PNY ThinkSafe
  2. Griffin TechSafe Cable Locking System
  3. Kensington SafeDock Security Dock
  4. MacBook Air Lock and Security Case Bundle
  5. Macbook Pro Retina Lock Kit with Anchor Plate

 
PNY ThinkSafe
Griffin TechSafe Cable Locking System
Kensington SafeDock Security Dock
MacBook Air Lock & Security Case Bundle
Macbook Pro Retina Lock Kit with Anchor Plate (aka MacLocks Wedge)
Material
Metal/ Steal cable
Metal/ Steal cable
Plastic/ Steal cable
Plastic/ Steal cable
Aluminium/ Steal cable
Size
Small
Small
Huge
Large
Medium
Price
$20-$40
$30
$65-$80
$75
$55-$60

All of these solution use a steal cable which you fix to some furniture - likely a table.

The difference lays in the approach, how to fix a cable to the MacBook.

Below some information and facts I found in my research, which lead to a clear winner for me.

PNY ThinkSafe

The MRSP is $40, but you can find this product often for $20.
A clear plus for this concept is it’s size. This has by far - together with the Griffin offer - the smallest footprint.

But… and that’s with an uppercase B, there a two major flaws that ruled this one out for me:

  1. It is quite difficult to apply the metal blade in the little gap between screen and the rest of the computer. There is a really good chance to scratch the aluminium surface of your MacBook AND you can’t close the lid while the blade is in place. It would damage the display. What a bummer!

  2. As the gap is very small, the blade has to be very thin in order to get through. A strong, quick pull would deform the blade and release the computer. Not much of a protection, isn’t it?

Griffin TechSafe Cable Locking System

This is just the same as the PNY, just with a stronger brand name, so lets move on, shall we?






Kensington SafeDock Security Dock

The SafeDock from Kensington tries to “embrace” the problem - literally.

You have to slide you super thin MacBook into a bulky plastic case, which shuts in the back, where you apply a steal cable.
The product video on amazon (just click the picture on the right to see it yourself) tries to point out the advantages of this product by saying that the MacBook is elevated to a better viewpoint.

Ok, but why did we buy a super-thin notebook, when we have to carry around this monster of a dock?

MacBook Lock & Security Case Bundle

This product from Noble Locks/MacLocks takes a similar approach as the competitor above.

But there plastic case is much slimmer!

The intension here is to let the notebook stay in the case, rather then inserting and removing it all the time.

This is a much better way, but the better is the enemy of the good.
Why do I say this?
Have a look at what this brand came out with as the successor.

Macbook Pro Retina Lock Kit with Anchor Plate

Just following the spirit of Apple - to offer premium products of highest quality - Noble Locks improved their already good last years product.

Now the anchor plate (aka Wedge) is made out of aluminium!

It is perfectly sized for all four MacBooks (Air 11" & Air 13", Retina Pro 13” & Retina Pro 15”).
It adds just 1mm of thickness to the back of the notebook and appears (almost) as original part of the Apple product.

In order to fix the anchor plate to the MacBook, it utilises the existing screw holes.

Like all solutions it can’t offer 100% safety from theft, but a casual by-passer has to happen to carry a special screwdriver for the odd Apple screws and 2-3 minutes of unobserved time to unscrew the plate.

I consider this scenario quite unlikely in the places where you would use it, as open office spaces, cafes, universities and so on.

Verdict

For me the Macbook Pro Retina Lock Kit with Anchor Plate is the best hardware protection as of today and the best looking one as well.

That is why I decided for it. You can read more about how to install the anchor plate and my personal experience with it here.

Don't forget to come back to continue with the next article about the free data protection features and tracing options in case the worst really happens to you.

Which solution do you prefer?

See results

© 2014 TheAndy

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