LapDock and Clamcase look like they both had the same idea at the same time: convert the iPad 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.
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