Brydge Kickstarter project could have been called 'ToasterFridge'

Brydge Kickstarter project could have been called 'ToasterFridge'

Summary: The Brydge is a unibody aluminum keyboard for the iPad that comes with a hinge, essentially turning it into a MacBook Air Transformer.

TOPICS: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Tablets

Brydge Kickstarter project could have been called 'ToasterFridge' - Jason O'Grady

On yesterday's Q2 2012 earnings conference call Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked about combining the PC and tablet experiences into one device, to which he replied:

You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator but those won't be pleasing to the user.

Despite Cooks dismissal of an iPad/MacBook Air hybrid, one company begs to differ and is taking the "iPad Air" concept to the people via a Kickstarter project called Brydge.

The concept is not unlike dozens of other iPad keyboard cases on the market -- it's basically a Bluetooth keyboard -- except that Brydge features a notebook-like hinge and is made out of a solid block of "unibody" aluminum that aligns perfectly with the iPad when closed.

It's not as thin as the MacBook Air, but certainly could be mistaken for the unibody MacBook if not for the black hinge mechanism (and the sideways Apple logo).

CNet's David Carnoy writes about Brydge's specs:

  • It weighs 1.3 pounds by itself and 2.74 pounds when connected to the new iPad (the 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 2.38 pounds by comparison).
  • It's made from aerospace-grade aluminum that is "machined and anodized to match the look and feel of an Apple iPad."
  • The Brydge's "clamp" is made from metal alloys and magnets with a thermoplastic elastomer shell.
  • It has a full QWERTY keyboard. The company says: "The beveled edge is as thin as possible to provide the largest keyboard possible."
  • It's 0.33-inch thick.
  • The Brydge's height and width are 9.5 by 7.3 inches, matching an iPad's dimensions.
  • It's designed so iPad 2 or the new iPad will fit very securely in the clamp. Acts as screen protector when closed.
  • Higher-end model features built-in speaker.

I'm generally of the opinion that iPads with keyboards are only a novelty, but that's because I write for a living. While Bluetooth keyboards certainly work with the iPad well enough, Apple hasn't added the other piece of the equation to iOS: mouse support.

For me, typing on a keyboard and reaching up to touch the iPad screen to switch apps just isn't an effective workflow, but hey, that's me. (The other thing that's missing is multiple windows, but that's a topic for another blog post.) I'm not against using the iPad with a keyboard some times, but it's not yet able to replace a MacBook Air with OS X, desktop class apps and a trackpad -- for me.

Brydge looks pretty slick and despite my reservations I backed the Kickstarter project. There were only 20 $150 pledges left at press time, after that the non-speaker version requires a $170 pledge or $210 if you want speakers.

Update: Only six $150 pledges left.

What's your take on an iPad with a keyboard? Can it replace a notebook computer for you?

Here's the video:

Topics: iPad, Apple, Hardware, Tablets

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  • iPad and keyboard . . .

    . . . has replaced my laptop. I use a Rubata keyboard case. It's not as effective as the the Brydge Kickstarter, but it is effective enough. I use the iPad and keyboard case all day, every day for business and personal use. It suits my needs. As well, a similar combination suits my wife and several business friends. And everyone day I meet people in business people and academics who use a similar combination.

    I would not for one moment suggest that a tablet and keyboard is suitable for everyone, but it is quite effective.

    I can only laugh at posters on fora who suggest that such a combination cannot be used for 'real" work. It might not suit their needs, but I've met many people who find the combination very satisfactory!
  • Cook is spot on.

    It looks not only bad, it must be a horrendous user experience, like the one with the first MBA generation. A netbook would probably give you even a better experience. The fact that you can combine a keyboard with an iPad does not mean you should do it. Good luck to the people who think they can replace a notebook with this rubbish.
  • My guess ...

    ... is that this is the future of the MBA and iPad lines -- a device that (basically) works like an MBA when "docked" and like an iPad when un-docked. Frankly, I really don't get why Apple hasn't done this yet. Seems like a no-brainer to me. The OSes are basically the same (since iOS is a derivative of OSX) and, in fact, if you had an iPad running OSX Mtn Lion in full-screen mode, it'd be a helluva lot like using iOS ... except that you could connect a mouse/trackpad for more demanding work.
    I'm gonna get one for my iPad. Looks like a great way to improve note-taking during meetings, without giving up the ability to un-dock the iPad for ultra portability.
  • Looks promising.

    For those unaware of the Asus Transformer Prime - this appears to be a similar design concept and it seems like a great idea. I know a lot of people who won't make the jump to a tablet because they don't think they'll use it all that much for anything productivity related. I was that same person until I got the Asus Transformer Prime and the matching dock that transforms it from a tablet to a netbook.

    I understand the concept of adding a physical keyboard as a pad/tablet attachment seems a bit backwards due to the combination of new technology (touch screen pad) and not very new technology (physical keyboard). It seems silly for Apple to choose not to take this route considering they'd be appealing to the folks stuck on the fence due to the very reason I mentioned above. For many that haven't yet made the jump, it's tough to justify spending $500+ on something that they're afraid will only be used for Angry Birds and web browsing. Yes, I know that's not all that the iPad has to offer. In addition to these folks, lets think about other demographics - per a study by Morgan Stanleymales aged 35-44 were the largest demographic of iPad buyers over the first two years. That age group makes sense due to income and ability to make a purchase on something that isn't a necessity in a down economy. Though in addition to income, a major use-case justification from this age group is that they can use the iPad at work in a corporate environment or oodles of different types of work settings.

    Add a physical keyboard dock attachment as an add-on option, and suddenly you're bringing your largest demographic back into the Apple store to purchase and accessory that will transform the iPad into a productivity device in addition to everything else it is currently known for these days.

    A common use-case question for tablets appeared on ZDNet back when the iPad first came out in an article titled [i]"The Apple iPad buying decision: Your use case will vary"[/i].

    Below is a use case scenarios taken from the article:

    [i]"Can I do heavy work if needed? The real selling point would be taking the iPad to a work trip and have the option to do all the things I may have to do (PowerPoints, PDFs etc.). One open question is whether I can blog a 500-word post on it."[/i]

    We all know that the answer is YES, you can enter a 500-word post blog on an iPad. But is the typing process quick and efficient? Heck No.

    The true selling point for me in getting the Transformer Prime was the keyboard dock and the fact that it adds an additional 8 hrs (approx) to the life of the tablet battery when docked. I can use it all day at work and a good bit at home in the evening before needing to even considering to charge it. Am I an Android loyalist? Nope. Am I an Apple loyalist? Nope. I don't have time for brand loyalty nonsense and buy based on my needs at the given time. In this case, I was the person on-the-fence and was sold on the hybrid aspect of the Prime & dock.

    While I think this Kickstarter project is a great idea for the iPad - the only shortfall I see is that it doesn't have the ability to charge the iPad when docked, which in turn would make it tough for me to justify spending $150 on a dock when I can score a bluetooth keyboard for a lot less. But then again, it all comes down to use case (typing on lap vs on desk). I understand why it doesn't charge the iPad since the iPad USB dock is located on a side of the device that would require the iPad to be docked in portrait orientation.

    But if Apple DID make the jump to a hydrid iPad in the future, would that take away from their MacBook Air sales? Perhaps this is what they're thinking about in their decision process...who knows.
  • Been there done that

    I bought a similar device from DX several months ago, but had to send it back for a variety of reasons. One was that the weight of the keyboard was less than the iPad 2, so when used on my lap it kept toppling over backward. I fear this model will have the same problem, weighing 1.3lb v's the iPad @ 1.44lb.
    I currently use a Chinese bluetooth keyboard/cover similar to the Logitech that is not attached. Also unstable on my lap but it will do until someone designs a stable hinged model.
  • The Brydge vs Logitech

    The Brydge's addition of speakers is nice, however, it only works in Landscape position. The Logitech will work in both Landscape and Portrait position, making it more versatile.