Review: Doberman Laptop Defender and Briefcase Alarm

Posted by Minnaar Pieters 20 Oct 2009
Every now and then I come across one or other gadget that I cannot help but wonder why they are not more popular. Many people living in SA have developed an almost paranoid like sense of their surroundings which is frankly very stressful. Therefore we invest in expensive home security systems, constantly locking up everything around us which has become entrenched in our lives. In fact, it is kind of difficult to believe the stories like "when I was young we left the key in the car..." etc.

I decided to test out Doberman's computer focused alarms which are very handy for paranoid people like me. The Laptop Defender attaches onto your laptop lid by adhesive, and then you activate them to start sensing sudden movements (like someone snatching your computer). You set up your own security code and simply press ARM and then your alarm is armed. Easy enough. A blinking light warns you that it is armed, and also moving the notebook will cause the alarm to quickly warn you with a loud beep. I think the Laptop defender is ideal for people who often use their computers in public places - for example, if you frequent airport lounges often, it now enables you to leave your laptop at your table to go get a snack. If someone snatches your laptop, a piercing alarm goes off which will of course attract attention. It seems like the Laptop Defender works better on a solid surface like a table. I tried to use it while the laptop was on my lap, but I got a warning after a while. While it is sensitive, it would not go off just by someone typing on the machine for example.

The Laptop Defender charges with USB - I have no idea how long the battery lasts, but I have used it quite often in the last few weeks and so far the battery is still fine.

The product that impressed me more was the Briefcase Alarm, which works in a similiar manner, but simply attaches to your briefcase. As someone who really appreciates the looks of my Macbook, I do not necessarily want to stick something to the lid of the machine, I will prefer to attach it to my briefcase. (Your opinion might differ. Cannot think the laptop alarm will spoil the utilitarian looks of a Thinkpad for example.) The Briefcase alarm works in the exact same way by getting armed with a code. Again, if you move the briefcase, it will warn you - loudly. Move it again, and it goes off. Loudly. VERY loudly.

In the manual they warn you that the alarm can create hearing damage - I would say that is a valid concern. In testing I let it go off in my office - my ears sang (is that the right term?) for the next few minutes. It will definitely attract a lot of attention if someone is running with this alarm going off...

Both of these products seem to be built very sturdily, and the Briefcase Alarm actually looks pretty decent as well with a leather finish loop which attaches to your bag. If you are someone who travels a lot or uses their laptop in public often, it is indeed a very good buy, especially at the price.

The Laptop Defender is currently going for around R350 and the Briefcase alarm for about R250.
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I am a R&D Analyst in Stellenbosch South Africa who has a immense passion for all things tech related. I embrace technology, open source and web standards, and I participate and contribute to the social web.