Accessories iPad

Clamcase Turns An iPad Into A Clunky Laptop Wannabe

Everyone seemed to be pretty excited about the Clamcase for the iPad, from Clamcase LLC. I was a bit puzzled by that after all the iPad is a tablet and a real laptop, like my MacBook Air, would be a better replacement for an iPad stuffed into a keyboard case.
Yet people wanted to be able to covert their iPad into a laptop and if you build it they will come right? Well build it they did and now you can have a Clamcase of your very own to turn your iPad into a clunky laptop wannabe.

Physical Characteristics

The product literature and website showed a Clamcase with a glossy black finish, but luckily reality was a shipping product with a flat black matte finish. I like that over the glossy finish because this one is less likely to show finger prints. Once the iPad is installed into the Clamcase and closed the whole thing reminds me a of a big clunky Windows laptop.
My iPad, where thin is in, usually resembles my MacBook Air, but all that goes away when the iPad is used inside of the Clamcase. Although the overall foot print is smaller than most Apple notebooks it weighs a lot — the Clamcase alone weighs about 1.8 pounds. The added weight will make you feel awkward for a while after carrying your formerly bare iPad inside of the Clamcase.
The top portion of the Clamcase where the iPad is installed is the lightest. It easily accepts the iPad for installation, but it is a bit trickier to remove the iPad later. I don’t think that an iPad would fall out if properly installed in the Clamcase.
The bottom containing the keyboard, battery, etc. is the heaviest. Both pieces are connected by a hinge that allows the Clamcase to be flexible.
The flexibility of the case allows you to use the entire set up in a mode resembling a laptop computer as well as various modes where you can use the iPad without the keyboard. The hinge allows the set up to be arranged in just about any angle so that is helpful.

Keyboard

The keyboard wasn’t the most comfortable one I’ve used, but it wasn’t completely bad either. However, it left me feeling a bit cramped just like most laptops do when I type on them. The keys were bit small and too close together. Typing was problematic and I found myself making frequent corrections. I’m sure with time and practice these would be reduced.
On the positive side the keyboard had specialty keys just like Apple’s keyboard dock that support features in iOS. There were keys for home, lock, search as well as keys for media control like play/pause, volume up/down, mute, and forward/back. Finally some other keys included power on/off, Bluetooth, cut, copy, paste, slide show, and a key that would show or hide the virtual keyboard.

A Week with the Clamcase

I spent a week with the Clamcase and these are the impressions it left me with:
  • It felt heavy and bulky after months of using my MacBook Air. I will be the first to admit that my MacBook Air has spoiled me and trading its place in my lap with the Clamcase was difficult. I found myself wishing that it were lighter and thinner. Ironically Apple has started a trend where I consider these factors now when I buy things. I guess I’ve had too much Kool-Aid.
  • The illusion of using a laptop made me frequently reach for the track pad that wasn’t there. Silly I know, but after you get muscle memory for something it is hard to shake.
  • Using the touch screen instead of a mouse or trackpad was awkward. I can understand now why Apple doesn’t seem to keen on producing an iMac or even a laptop with a touch screen. It just doesn’t make sense and felt awkward. I’ll lay the blame for this on all the time I’ve spent using devices  like laptops the traditional way.
  • The above feeling of awkwardness was enhanced when selecting text since you had to use your finger to do so by using the touch screen. Afterwards you could use the specialty keys to do cut, copy, or paste.
  • When the Clamcase was closed it did not give me a strong impression that it would stay closed and it was positively heavy. It also didn’t seem balanced due to the weight difference between the two halves. Using it on a flat solid surface was okay, but in your lap or otherwise wasn’t always okay.
  • It will not currently work with iPad 2 unless the vendor releases an adapter or a new model.

Conclusion

Although I consider this to probably be the best of the iPad keyboard cases I’ve tried the weight and cramped keyboard were enough to keep me away from full-time use. I think a lighter version of this product with a better keyboard could be a big hit for people on a budget, students, or even bloggers. The experiment of turning my iPad into a clunky laptop is gratefully over. The Clamcase is back in its box where it belongs.
For additional product images see Feast Your Eyes On The Clamcase for iPad. If you are interested in purchasing a Clamcase you can do so at clamcase.com for the current sale price of $119 for a limited time. The regular retail cost is $149.