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Kickstarter project aims to turn iPad into MacBook Air

Apple isn't going to make an iPad/MacBook Air hybrid, but The Brydge keyboard case is trying to span that gap.

The Brydge hits Kickstarter with early-adopter pricing of $150 for the entry-level model with no built-in speaker.

During Apple's second quarter earnings call yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook dismissed the idea of Apple releasing a MacBook-iPad hybrid device, saying such convergence was a "compromise" to the end user.

"You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator," Cook said, "but those things are probably not going be pleasing to the user."

Well, the folks behind The Oona smartphone stand don't mind Cook's stance. They're working on getting some funding ($90,000) via Kickstarter for their latest project, The Brydge, a keyboard case that makes your iPad look and act more like a MacBook Air.

The Brydge closed (click to enlarge). Oona

Here are The Brydge's key specs:

  • It weighs 1.3 pounds by itself and 2.74 pounds when connected to the new iPad (the 11-inch MacBook Air weighs 2.38 pounds by comparison).
  • It's made from aerospace-grade aluminum that is "machined and anodized to match the look and feel of an Apple iPad."
  • The Brydge's "clamp" is made from metal alloys and magnets with a thermoplastic elastomer shell.
  • It has a full QWERTY keyboard. The company says: "The beveled edge is as thin as possible to provide the largest keyboard possible."
  • It's 0.33-inch thick.
  • The Brydge's height and width are 9.5 by 7.3 inches, matching an iPad's dimensions.
  • It's designed so iPad 2 or the new iPad will fit very securely in the clamp. Acts as screen protector when closed.
  • Higher-end model features built-in speaker.

The one drawback of this type of case, as well as Logitech's new Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, is that you most likely will have to leave the back of the iPad exposed, though you could cover it with a skin. But if you drop your iPad on a hard surface, it will most likely get dinged up (yes, some people are very protective of their iPads, but then again, some aren't).

The other challenge for the Brydge's creators is the price. As with all Kickstarter projects, you get a special discount for helping fund the project with your preorder. As an early adopter, you can get The Brydge (when it finally ships) for $150 for the speaker-less model and $180 for the model with speakers.

The product is eventually expected to retail for $170 without speakers and $210 with speakers. (Apparently, the anodized aluminum body is the biggest cost.)

Meanwhile, Logitech's Ultrathin Keyboard, which earned an Editors' Choice from CNET, will set you back only $99. But it really doesn't make your iPad look like a MacBook Air. Some people will be just fine with that.