Pad&Quill Cartella Case Review: Turns MacBook Air into MacBook with Class

If you would like to protect the ultra-portable MacBook Air in a fashionable way, then the Cartella case from Pad&Quill might be just the thing. The case looks just like an oversized accounting ledger with an elastic band like most high-end leather folios have. There are two sizes for each of the MacBook Air models – 11″ and 13″ sizes. Pad&Quill calls it a “bookbindery case” which is appropriate.

Cartella MacBook Air Case from Pad&Quill

Cartella MacBook Air Case from Pad&Quill

Build Quality and Look

The frame is made of Baltic Birch wood. Inside the frame there is a layer of thin rubber along the edges to act as a bumper. The inside bottom of the case has circular pads where the feet on the bottom of the MacBook Air rest. This raises the computer a little to give it some ventilation. The front is raised slightly higher than the back making the keyboard flat instead of the ever so slight angle at which the MacBook Air normally sits without a case.

Cartella Made from Baltic Birch

The Cartella is made from Baltic Birch

The trim inside the case is an attractive red. The binding is black. On the inside cover there is a pocket to hold thin papers. When you open the case it has instructions for installation as well as a “Table of Contents” which lists major accomplishments of the company as if they were chapters. The Cartella is the fifth chapter. The tongue and cheek nature of the “story” of a pair of “starving artists” which ends with the sixth chapter telling “The Story of No Longer Starving Artists…” is a nice touch. The final line says, “… Thanks to our customers.”

Cartella inside pocket

Cartella has an inside pocket for the "Table of Contents"

This is a solid case that will protect your MacBook Air. The wood frame is light but sturdy. It is an expensive case because it is a quality product.

Cartella Design

The Cartella is designed with detail in mind


The design makes the case easy to put on the MacBook Air. You slide the thin end of the case into the front of the case. Then just drop the back thicker end of the computer down and it should fall right into place. There are a couple of strips of the bumper material with a sticky back in case you need to add some tension to the case to keep the MacBook Air in place better.

Cartella Design - back

Notice the beveling which lets the MacBook open while in the case and allows for easy removal

We must say they have thought of every detail. The rear side edges have cutouts for the ports. And on the back left cutout is slightly larger to accommodate the MagSafe power connector. The woodworking fits the computer nicely and the spacing is perfect. It is easy to get the computer open thanks to the front spacing where the notch is on the MacBook Air. The spacing allows you to lift the lid. The back edge allows the lid to open and gives room for you to get your finger under the back of the computer for quick removal from the case.

Cartella Design - front

Notice the front opening which allows the MacBook Air to be opened while in the case

Not for Everyone

Not everyone agrees that the Cartella looks nice. My wife looked at it and her first reaction was that it looked kind of cheap. I was stunned because I thought the opposite – it looks classy. So you may agree with me or her. At either $80 or $90 you will want to be certain about the look and feel of this case.

I just think the case fits in a category by itself and is designed for a unique market. It is for people who like nice things and don’t feel the need to show off their Apple hardware. They want more than a cheap rubber cover or a nylon computer bag for protection. If you fit that category, then I think you will really like the Cartella from Pad&Quill.

Cartella Cover Bows

The Cartella top cover bows a little

It is not perfect. The top cover on ours bowed after a short usage. It could be because we stored the two bumper strips in the inside pocket. But where else would you put them? Also the elastic band that holds it closed can get in the way a little. I’ve never been a fan of those folio style elastic bands around covers. These are two very minor complaints.

Cartella Design - side

The Cartella design allows MacSafe connector to be used while in the case

Video Review

Price, Availability and Other Cases

The Cartella from Pad&Quill is available now for $79.99 for the 11″ model and $89.99 for the 13″ model. Soon there will be an iPad 2 case called the Octavo and we will be reviewing it when it is released. Right now there are also cases available for the original iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Kindle 3 and Nook. We love that the iPhone case is called “The Little Black Book”. Pad&Quill takes quality seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously and we like companies like that.

Cartella Design - other side

The ports are available for use while in the Cartella case

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