Brydge Kickstarter project could have been called 'ToasterFridge'

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

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: