Smartphone powered laptop docks certainly aren’t a new or original concept; in fact we’ve seen quite a few manufacturers try to make it work in the past. Motorola came closest to success with their laptop dock for the Atrix and other smartphones, but it didn’t actually sell very well, and other manufacturers have promised laptop docks powered by smartphones and never delivered. However, I don’t think the concept is the problem; it is more likely poor execution that is keeping the smartphone powered laptop from catching on. ClamCase seems to have figured this out, and their concept ClamBook smartphone powered laptop looks like it could actually be a success if ever brought to market.
Unlike most other device-specific laptop docks, the important thing about the ClamBook is that it will work with many devices, including the iPhone and any Android device with an MHL port. This alone opens it up to a much larger user base, and makes the laptop more practical for anyone who plans to switch devices and doesn’t want to have a useless laptop sitting around. Granted, you will have to buy the iPhone or MHL cable for your device, but that is still a small price to pay for an accessory like this that will work with numerous devices.
On the hardware side, the ClamBook’s performance will obviously vary based on what kind of device you have hooked up to it. Still, it does have a few important features, including a 16:9 display, 3D Cinema Sound, a full keyboard with dedicated Android navigation keys, and a full touch trackpad. The trackpad should also support all the same multitouch gestures found on the device attached, although whether that turns out to be useful remains to be seen. The ClamBook also features a beautiful looking aluminum shell, which makes it look a lot like the MacBook Air. Provided it has good build quality, it looks like the ClamBook could be a beautiful and functional accessory.
Some may dismiss this project as vaporware, and that certainly is a possibility. It is worth considering, though, that ClamCase has a history of making similar products for the iPad, and has actually provided a release window for this project as well. They say that the ClamBook will be “coming holiday 2012” which likely means that they are trying to get it out before the December shopping spree. No price has been announced, but I wouldn’t expect this to be cheap. Still, I signed up to be notified of updates, because even if it costs quite a bit, a universal accessory that looks this good and promises to be quite functional just might be worth it.