Clambook: turn your smartphone into a laptop

An upcoming laptop dock comes to life when connected to a smartphone that becomes the brains of the laptop.

The idea of using a smartphone to power a laptop is nothing new. That was the concept behind the ill-fated Palm Foleo, and more recently a product line from Motorola.

A company that makes laptop docks for the iPad is showing the Clambook, a MacBook Air type of laptop dock that works with Android phones and the iPhone.

When I reviewed the Motorola Atrix with its laptop dock last year I wondered if we would see a third-party effort as it seemed possible to produce one. The folks at Clamcase agree with me and plan to release the Clambook later this year.

The laptop dock is basically a screen, keyboard, and trackpad that when connected to an iPhone or Android phone running Ice Cream Sandwich comes to life. The smartphone becomes the brains for the laptop, which can run all apps on the bigger screen. The phone is dropped into a small dock which connects to the laptop and charges the phone while being used.

Supposedly the Clambook will run any apps on the phone, displayed on the laptop display. The photo below shows the iPhone being used as a game controller, but no details are provided to explain how that works.

The Motorola laptop docks take advantage of special webtop apps loaded on the Atrix and other phones designed to work with the docks. These include a full desktop version of the Firefox browser. According to Clamcase, the Clambook will also take advantage of those apps when paired with one of the Motorola phones.

This type of smartphone docking product might have a good fit in the enterprise. Using the smartphone as the CPU and memory for the laptop means only one device must be maintained, while providing the functionality of both a phone and a laptop.

Clamcase is not specifying a price for the Clambook, and plans on November availability for the Clambook. It is worth keeping an eye on its release, as it appears to be well-designed for this type of device. As is always the case, the price will determine if this will be a successful product.