Above: The rear view, with the included combination lock attached to the PNY hinge-link. 

A few weeks back I reviewed MacLock’s “MacBook Pro Security Bracket” for securing your laptop from theft when unattended (here’s the link). When I posted that review, a few of the commenters pointed me to PNY’s new “ThinkSafe” lock for the MacBook Pro Retina display model, so I immediately ordered it to do a comparison (and here we go!).

How it works
Basically, this works by having you slide a hard, thin piece of metal between the hinge in your laptop’s lid so it sticks out of the back of your MacBook Pro (scroll way down to see a close up of it). There’s a small hole in the end (the part that sticks out) and the lock hooks right through it (and you wrap the lock around something that won’t move, like a chair leg, or table leg) and that’s it — the two become one.

Above: Here’s the little hinge lock from the keyboard view. You only see that little metal plate, but that plate doesn’t sit flush — it kinda slides around loose unless its locked down. 

PROS:
It has a combination lock, which I much prefer over a key lock (if you lose the key, you’re hosed — your MacBook isn’t leaving when you leave, and that freaks me out). Plus, you can register your four-digit code with PNY in case you ever forget it.

The price: it’s only $20 including the combination lock. That’s a third of the price of the MacLocks solution, at around $60.

It comes with a carrying pouch that keeps it all together nicely for travel.

It also supports the MacBook Air & MacBook Pros with the built-in lock hole

It can’t easily be defeated by someone with a small screwdriver.

CONS:
This really isn’t something you would leave attached to your MacBook Pro all the time. You really need to attach it when you need to lock it, and remove the whole thing when you don’t, because the way it sticks out of the back of your MacBook Pro, makes it tough to fit comfortably in a laptop bag. It also looks kind of awkward when not in use.

The potential for scratching everything from a desk, to your MacBook itself is pretty high. It’s a piece of metal hanging out from the back of your computer. As long as you just use it when you need to secure it, it’s probably OK, but if you left it on all the time, something’s gonna get scratched.

You can’t change the four-digit lock code. They give you a pre-programmed code when you buy the lock, so you have to memorize it, because you can’t change it. That’s surprising.

The instruction manual is really poorly designed. It looks very easy at first glance, but it’s confusing as anything for such a simple device. There are not quite enough visuals and not nearly enough text to describe some aspects. It took three of us to figure it out. Having six languages on the page didn’t help the matter either.

The clip that slides into your MacBook’s hinge just sits there kind of loose (not flat and tight), so when it’s not locked down, it slides around, clanks and giggles a bit, and generally is somewhat annoying, kinda like having a large paper clip sliding around between the hinge in the lid of your laptop. It’s not quite that bad, but close. This kinda surprised me as I figured it would be a snug fit.

Above: Here’s a close-up of how the lock attaches to the metal hinge-link that sticks out of the back of your MacBook Pro. There’s a hole in the metal plate, and the lock hooks into it. 

Bottomline
Both of these will do the job of keeping your MacBook Pro from getting swiped unless you come across a determined thief with both time and the right tools. In the end, I see the MacLocks solution as one I can leave on MacBook Pro all the time and only use it when I need it by just taking out my lock. The PNY is one I would need to install each time I want to use it. It’s a quick install (once you know how to do it), but still, you have to take it on/off each time, so it is a different beast.

If I had to choose between the PNY and the MacLock’s solution, I’d spend the extra $40 and go with the MacLocks, because I think it’s an easier-to-live-with solution for everyday use. If you only lock your MacBook on rare occasions, then just spend the $20 on the PNY — it’ll do the job.

Overall Rating
If I actually had a five-star rating-system, with 5 being best, I would give it 4 stars, knocking off a star for the clunkiness of the clip; the fact that you have to take it on/off for the most part, and for the really bad manual.

PNY ThinkSafe Portable MacBook Locking System
Price:
 $20
Works on: Apple MacBook Pros, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, MacBook Air
Available from: Amazon.com