ClamCase converts iPad to laptop

From CES, a first hands-on look at the new iPad shell case/keyboard combo

Hands on with the ClamCase

Although the company didn't have a booth on the floor, ClamCase met with Macworld privately to demonstrate the very first ready-for-sale version of the upcoming $150 ClamCase, a keyboard case and stand for Apple's iPad. Here's a closer look.

ClamCase sans iPad

The iPad slips into the ClamCase's top shell, much as you'd insert your iPad into a hardshell-style case. (That blur you see on the left is an iPad about to enjoy its first visit into the ClamCase.)

MacBook touch?

With an iPad inside, the ClamCase looks a lot like a black MacBook. The ClamCase itself weighs about 1.8 pounds, making the whole package—iPad+case—just over 3 pounds.

Bluetooth keyboard

The ClamCase's full-size keyboard connects to your iPad via Bluetooth just as you'd connect any other Bluetooth keyboard. Once you turn on the ClamCase and select it in the iPad's Bluetooth settings screen, you enter a four-digit PIN to pair the two. From that point on, turning on the ClamCase automatically reconnects it.

Laptop style keyboard

The ClamCase provides a complete Mac-style keyboard with keys that feel quite a bit like the keys on Apple's current keyboards. You get real Mac modifier keys—on both sides of the Spacebar—as well as a standard inverted-T group of arrow keys, an fn key, and a full array of iPad-function F-keys. Among those are dedicated Cut, Copy, and Paste keys.

Open wide

The ClamCase opens quite a bit wider than the screens on Apple's laptops. In our brief look, the hinge was strong enough to keep the iPad from falling back, even at wide angles.

Adjustable stand

When viewing media, the ClamCase's keyboard flips around to become a sturdy stand.

Fold it back

For those times you don't need a keyboard, the ClamCase's keyboard folds against the back of the iPad, making for a thicker tablet. (You can turn off the keys to avoid accidental input.)

Clammed up

When closed, the ClamCase isn't much wider or deeper than a typical hardshell iPad case, although it's obviously a bit thicker.

All ports exposed

The sides of the ClamCase provide openings for all the iPad's ports, connectors, speakers, and microphones. You can also see the mini-USB port for charging the ClamCase's internal battery. (You can check the current battery level at any time by pressing fn+Control on the keyboard—the power light flashes one, two, three, or four times to indicate the charge level.)

Feet down below

The bottom of the ClamCase features a soft-touch finish and rubber feet for stability.