Most modern smartphones are more powerful than your first-gen Pentium computer: they can already do everything from surfing the Web to editing basic office documents. In fact, mobile processors are already powering tablets like the Surface RT and laptops like the $250 Samsung Chromebook. So why carry both a laptop and a smartphone when your smartphone can technically do the trick? To be as useful for work as a laptop, your phone only needs a bigger screen for editing large documents, and a physical keyboard for fast typing.
The Casetop by Livi Design sees the potential in turning your smartphone, which most people already carry everywhere, into a laptop for the occasions when you need the convenience of the clam shell form factor. (With this dock, at least you won’t have to buy a brand new device plus a dock, like with the phone-in-tablet Asus Padfone.) At just 0.8-inch thick when closed, with an 11.1-inch 720p LCD non-touch screen, and a “Frontbar” (see the blue bar in the photo) that slides neatly into the keyboard, the Casetop is a compact dock for your smartphone.
Unlike the Motorola Atrix and its Webtop laptop dock, the Casetop uses whatever platform that your smartphone is running so it will work with most mobile devices with a full-sized HDMI-out or other video outputs like MHL for the screen, and Bluetooth to pair with the chiclet-style keyboard. In addition, the dock packs the equivalent of a 6-cell battery so it promises to triple your phone’s battery life and charge it at the same time. It even offers a charging USB 3.0 port that lets you plug in other devices that need juicing up, in addition to a micro-USB and an audio jack for your headset.
As you can see in the demo video from Livi Design, it’s pretty easy to hook up your phone to the Casetop. You simply slide out the Frontbar, plug in your phone via HDMI, place your phone between the Frontbar and the keyboard, and you’ll be able to enjoy your mobile operating system on an 11-inch screen. Not only does your phone become the brains of this make-shift laptop, it also doubles as the touchpad so you can navigate your apps through your touchscreen.
From making the polycarbonate bars in various colors, to embedding a full Android computer into the so-called AndyBar, Livi Design is already brainstorming a bunch of different Frontbar designs for different purposes that users can swap in and out. But before it can realize its Frontbar fantasies, it needs some Kickstarter backers to help get this first-generation Casetop off the ground. If you want to get a basic Casetop with a standard Frontbar for your phone, you need to pledge a minimum of $250 (the $220 early bird option is all sold out) by June 2, and hope the project meets its funding goal of $300,000.
Does the Casetop stand a chance?