Friday, March 25, 2011

Clamcase - iPad Case and Keyboard Hands-on Review

After a ridiculously long two month wait, I finally received my ClamCase Bluetooth iPad keyboard and case.

After living with it for a couple of days, I have decided I like it, but there were some negatives to get used to.

1. Delay in Delivery - While I have been waiting for the ClamCase, the iPad 2 came out, which it is not compatible with (at least physically). An iPad 2 ClamCase has been announced, and you can join the list now, but after the horrible delays with this one, I wouldn't bet on getting it anytime soon.

2. Weight - During the delay in delivery, I was also given a MacBook Air. Once ensconced in the ClamCase, the iPad is almost as heavy as the Air, which has a larger screen - which makes me love my Air that much more.

3. Charging - While the ClamCase charges quickly with an included mini-USB adapter, it is somewhat inconvenient to have a second device to keep charged on top of my iPad. Battery life seems excellent, though, so as long as you charge it along with your iPad, you should be good to go.

Now, for the positives:

1. Keyboard - The keys are somewhat small, and chicklet-style, but it is just revolutionary to have a physical keyboard on my iPad. While I dabbled in blogging from my iPad before, it was never as comfortable as sitting down at my PC or laptop. Now, it is much more natural. Bluetooth pairing with the iPad was simple and straightforward.

2. Convertible Design - The ability to convert from a laptop-style keyboard setup to a tablet in seconds is very handy. I find myself using my keyboard less than 50% of the time, due to my comfort with the iPad's interface. using the keyboard and touchscreen together is a best-of-both worlds experience in most cases, allowing you to use the most natural or convenient input method at will.

3. Case and Stand Functionality - The ClamCase is heavy, but it is solid and when closed provides sturdy protection for the enclosed iPad. The stand functionality, both in portrait and landscape mode is excellent, due to the adjustable double-hinge along the spine. The iPad can be removed easily and snaps right back into place if you want to shed the ClamCase for a while.

Overall judgement? I will be keeping my ClamCase. Many will argue that adding weight and a keyboard to an iPad just turns it into a netbook. Certainly, this was not part of Steve Jobs's vision for a tablet. To take the heresy to the next level, combine the ClamCase and iTap RDP, and I have Windows 7 running on my iPad. As I have come to rely on the iPad as my primary portable computing device, the addition of a physical keyboard brings another level of usability for me that is worth the negatives. At the same time, the long-delayed delivery, $119 price tag, and advent of the iPad 2 make it hard for me to recommend the ClamCase for others to purchase today. Also take a look at my review of the BookBook case for the iPad and iPad 2 - its completely low-tech and pretty much the polar opposite of the ClamCase.


  1. So why not just use your Airbook all the time? This seems like a weaker, basically redundant device.

  2. I think it comes down to the tablet functionality - in a meeting, I feel like opening a laptop is putting a wall between me and the client - the ClamCase lets me operate in tablet mode, then bust out the keyboard when I need to do some serious typing. Don't worry, there's a BookBook review coming!

  3. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)