Also, any other suggestions/comparisons would be much appreciated. $1000 or less.
In long term, your case will have dents (you can eventually even them out). However, they are quite strong. I think they are bomb-proofed.
One of my Rimowas is the exact same model that was featured in Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Awesome bag.
Have you ever considered their "Salsa" line? It's not bad at all for the price.
I currently have both "Topas" & "Salsa" in different sizes. I have 2 "Topas" and 1 "Salsa". One Topas is only 3~4 months old, where as the other Topas & Salsa are probably more than a year old. I do like them all and if I really had to choose one, I have to go with "Topas" because it is stronger than "Salsa".
As you know, the "Topas" line is more expensive than "Salsa" but there is a good reason for that. "Salsa" line is made with polycarbonate, whereas "Topas" line is made with aluminum. For an actual carry-on, "Salsa" line can be a great choice if you can actually take care of the luggage after your trip is over (cleaning the cover, fixing dents, purchasing covers, etc) and that you do not travel often. If you are quite concerned with the durability, I would probably go with "Topas". You can find them for less than $1k depending on models. Ramowa also has 5-year warranty, which is same as Tumi.
The only downside that I might have is that their wheels are quite small (for the 4-wheeled ones), but I really don't care that much. I also have experienced that in order to avoid any hassle on the carry-on regulations with TSA agents / gate agents, it is a good idea to actually carry the official size of the luggage. It has happened to me only twice but the first time was quite annoying.
DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT. We bought an aluminum case in Honolulu. We were talked into this unit by the salesperson as the unit that would provide the most protection, etc. Was damaged first flight, shape distorted, unit dented wouldn't close. Took 20 minutes to close it. Looked years old with dents because the material is so soft. 2nd trip handle broke off. Asked Jason Schmidt who is supposed to be regional VP to region to replace it with a polycarbonate unit or refund and we were after we had given it back to the store 13 days ago told he would only repair it. So in summary the product is all fluff and no substance and is overpriced and gets damaged in normal wear and tear situations. Very disappointed with this product.
Recently bought an Aluminium Topas. Thought it was a good investment for a frequent traveller...who knows!!! it was my worst investment ever! Right after my 1st trip traveling, there is a hole and dent on the body!! where is the QUALITY!! i am so disappointed ;( i think Samsonite has a better materials and better deals.