With many schools and colleges back in session, we are seeing the usual and predicable spike in accidental damage repairs in our service facilities. It’s very important to remember that a dropped computer, one with a broken screen, or one with any type of liquid damage—no matter how new—has no warranty coverage.

Small Dog has a ton of products to protect your Mac or iPod from impact and liquid damage. Keep in mind, though, that you still should avoid dropping your laptop or drinking anything near it. Here are my favorite protective products for Apple laptops.

Speck cases are hard shells that are form-fitted for a precise and tight fit to your laptop. Available in many colors and textures, they are the best-selling and best-performing protection against impact damage.

The second part of protecting your laptop is a well-padded laptop bag like those from Timbuk2. These messenger-style laptop bags have lots of storage, look good, and provide great protection. If you prefer a sleeve-style laptop case, know that they provide less protection, but are still better than carrying around a naked computer. My favorite is the new Hammerhead line, named for CEO Don Mayer’s bulldog.

Jeremiah Johnson, assistant manager of the South Burlington store, likes the Incipio Feather line of cases, and has a review a little later in this issue of Best in Showroom.

The third element of a good protection plan is a keyboard cover. KB Covers makes a line of form-fitting super-thin plastic covers that’ll save your bacon if you spill a small amount of liquid on your keyboard. It only takes a drop of water to make it through your keyboard and onto complex (and very expensive) circuitry below. If you must drink near your laptop, you owe it to yourself to get a keyboard cover.

If, despite your best efforts to protect your machine (or if you didn’t protect it), your computer is dropped or spilled in, it is best to discontinue use immediately to prevent more damage. A dropped computer should have its hard drive preemptively replaced in most cases, and a computer that’s been spilled in should have a thorough inspection by a good technician. Our Technical Service team can often revive a damaged computer for hundreds, or even over $1,000 less than the same repair at an Apple store.

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