Blog Post

Clamcase and LapDock Cram the iPad into a Netbook

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!
iPad LapDock Prototype
iPad LapDock Prototype

LapDock and Clamcase look like they both had the same idea at the same time: convert the iPad (s aapl) into a netbook/slate hybrid, and get the best of both worlds. The idea is genius, and the execution, from what we can see so far, looks great, but are the two products trying to fit a round peg in a square hole?

Two things come to mind when looking at the these cases: one, the iPad is all about the touch interface, and two, bluetooth keyboard support is not fully baked yet. After using the iPad for a couple of weeks, the conclusion I come to is that hardware keyboard support was an afterthought. Many of the normal features of a keyboard do not work, and the bluetooth keyboard is missing a few of the special keys that the Apple keyboard dock has. It’s hard to say, without using the case, if it will turn out to be awkward, if the iPad will be easy to pop out of the case, if the iPad’s screen will be protected from the keys on the keyboard when the case is closed, or how heavy the case will be. Both the LapDock and Clamcase seem to want to shoehorn the new paradigm of the touch computer interface into the old familiar one.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. We are at the beginning of the wave of new world devices, a wave that has not nearly begun to crest yet. The keyboard has been used as an input device for decades, so finding a middle ground between the new world of touch screens and the old world of the touch typist is a reasonable objective. Apple has made a similar admission by including support for hardware keyboards in iPhone OS 4.

The real test of any new product is answering the question “What problem does this solve?” For me, the answer is simple, if I had the Clamcase now, I would have typed out this article sitting on the couch with my iPad in my lap, instead of at the table.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Is The Age of the Web Tablet Finally Upon Us?

13 Responses to “Clamcase and LapDock Cram the iPad into a Netbook”

  1. The very fact that this has some appeal particularly among iPad users tells me that Apple’s tablet has a way to go before it’s interfaces and usage modes are settled. Keyboards are useful input devices because web search and most communication is still text based. Eventually a hybrid tablet will pose the same threat to the laptop as the laptop with docking station is finally posing for the desktop now that graphics power has reached a certain level im mobile graphics chip sets. But that is several generations out, Until then, rather than own a Macbook Pro and an iPad and fidgeting between them because of the inadequacies of each, I’ll keep my Macbook Pro and watch with interest, waiting.

  2. Cyberqat

    All these comments are highly predictable.

    People who use an iPad now for work purposes intuitively understand why this option is a good idea.

    People who are resisting pad computing in general and the iPad in specific, never will.

    End of story.

  3. I like the LapDock more since it houses Apple stock bluetooth keyboard.
    Converting the iPad into a notebook form factor is a bit of a gimmick, but this way you could view it simply as a combo case for bringing the keyboard with you while you travel with the iPad, which make more sense most of the time.

  4. The thing about a case with a keyboard is unless there’s some switch that turns off bluetooth without you having to disable it in preferences, it’s useless. Yes I suppose one could use the switch on the keyboard, but that defeats the purpose of speed. Plus if you then lay the thing down, do you lay it on the keyboard? Not a good thing for keeping those keys in good shape. Awkward to hold, etc.

    I like Apple’s Case for the ipad. It feels like you’re carrying a smooth tablet of paper in your hand. You can set it down, it easily angles for typing on your lap or on a desk, and it does not require shoehorning in the unit to work.

    Plus for $39 you get that really cool Apple logo on it and since this is a great apple product that’s only fitting :)

  5. KsbjA

    Well, I like the Clamcase. LapDock just turns the iPad into a touchscreen netbook, while Clamcase lets people use the iPad as in a normal case, there’s simply also a keyboard for when you need it. It’s a pretty cool way to have the keyboard always with you, and it makes it possible to do heavier word processing while on the go, unlike the Bluetooth keyboard which was designed for a desktop Mac. And when you’re done writing, fold the case back or close it, and no more netbook.

  6. Tom Wyrick

    I don’t have a problem with the concept of adding a keyboard to the iPad, but I don’t think this is a very creative way to do it…..

    Why can’t someone make a case similar to Apple’s iPad case that has a built-in fabric or thin rubberized flexible keyboard that slides out of the side of it? They could run it on a couple button-cell type batteries, to keep the bulk down.

  7. These cases are an interesting concept, at the very least. As you say, time will determine how useful they are. What I think is a more interesting concept, and I’d like to see if any peripheral manufacturers are up to the challenge, is if someone were to create an iPhone case that features a slide-out horizontel thumbboard, similar to some other touchscreen smartphones (notably a few Android models). If Bluetooth keyboard support is in fact going to be available on iPhones as well via OS 4, then at the very least I could see a small niche market who would be interested in this idea.

  8. These sorts of “products” come from the clueless marketing minds who figure that the leading marathon runner will have “twice the appeal if we break both his legs so he can compete in the wheelchair category.”

  9. Tsubame

    Frankly, I think these cases miss the point of the device really. It’s not supposed to be a netbook, or else Apple would have just made it exactly this product.

    I think if you are looking for a highly portable laptop, a MB or MBA may be much options than trying to turn your iPad into a laptop. Using the iPad for what it is perfect at (lounging back and computing rather than hunched forward and computing) seems to be a better use than trying to make it into something it is not.