As some of you might remember from my MagPad post, I sometimes like to play around in Google Sketchup and create 3D models of accessories and things I wish existed. One of the tablet accessories that has me the most excited these days is the dock that comes with the Asus EEE Transformer, which has both more ports, a keyboard and a battery to help the tablet turn into a laptop. Naturally I had to make my own virtual iPad version of this.
The Padbook as I’ve dubbed it is meant to be an accessory that turns the iPad into more of a laptop type device. You slide it into the lid of the Padbook and you then have a complete laptop experience. Since the iPad is physically attached to the Padbook and the whole thing is hinged, this could be “manhandled” like a laptop without the iPad falling off, unlike some existing products. Visible on the front is a pair of speakers, which get their audio fed from the iPad through the dock connector.
Part of the point of the Padbook is to include some of the accessory ports that you otherwise need adapters for. There’s a lot more space on the side on the Padbook compared to an iPad- not to mention the sides are thick enough to hold connectors like USB- so this isn’t a problem. In my mockup I put in an SD slot and USB port on the lid part (basically the same as what you get with the Apple camera connection kit) and an HDMI connector and 30 pin Apple connector on the bottom half. The 30 pin connector is used to charge the iPad, attach other accessories as well as charge a possible built in backup battery that sits in the tip of the bottom half of the Padbook and can charge the iPad. Having the battery in the tip will balance the thing so it doesn’t topple over when it’s open. A battery like this is expensive though so even though you could theoretically fit a lot of extra battery power in such a dock, cost would be an issue. As for the placement of the connectors that’s rather random and you could place all on the bottom if you’d like, as well as include things like VGA and audio out.
The Apple Bluetooth keyboard is already an excellent keyboard, so why use a different, probably crappier (just look at that Zagg thing…) keyboard in there when you can just make a slot for the Apple keyboard? It would make it much easier to justify for people who already have that keyboard (though would probably add some to the cost for those who don’t and have to buy both- bundle anyone?) and it would mean that you didn’t need to use the whole thing is you just needed the keyboard for a bit. Considering the size of the Apple keyboard, doing it this way wouldn’t take up any more space either.
When closed, the Padbook would look like a regular netbook. The top and right side of the iPad is exposed, allowing full access to the headphone port and volume controls, as well as making it easier to slide it in and out.
The whole idea here is to take all the accessories you’d carry separately for the iPad and turn them into a laptop shaped dock that made it possible to actually use it on a lap, which you can’t do with lose accessories. When you didn’t want the laptop form you’d simply take out the iPad and have a tablet, which is the whole point. You cannot rip the screen off a netbook and take it with you, but you can add a laptop shaped dock to a tablet.
If it wasn’t clear, this is just my mockup of a product I’d like to see happen. It’s not very likely that it will (I’m certainly not going to create it) but I’d buy one if it did. I already carry so many things separately for my iPad that I might as well put it all in one place.