Casetop KickStarter project shows one vision of mobile computing

By Bla1ze on 22 May 2013 04:59 pm EDT

For years now there has been talk of BlackBerry building a smartphone dock that would essentially turn your device into a netbook of sorts. In fact, BlackBerry already has a patent for it all ready to go should BlackBerry CEO, Thorsten Heins, decide to make use of it. Those rumors aren't going away, they're only getting stronger as talks of mobile computing come up more and more often. Already taking the idea of using your smartphone as your computer and running with it is John Andrus, Founder of Livi Design, who has launched a Kickstarter project for his vision of mobile computing, dubbed Casetop. 

The Casetop offers a laptop-style dock which you can plug your smartphone into, whether it's powered by Android, iOS, or BlackBerry. From there, your device provides all the processing power, graphics power and will even work as a trackpad for the Casetop. In return for the computing power, the Casetop brings a full-sized keyboard, 11.1-inch 720p or 1080p display, powered USB port for charging devices, HDMI input, MHL video, audio output, and stereo speakers.

It's a pretty interesting package when all is said and done, but like anything else, the price has to be right. This style of product has been tried before and arguably failed with pricing being a major factor. If you're interested in Casetop and want one, you'll have to lay down $250 (or more if you want the 1080p display) for the package consisting of 1 White Casetop and 2 Frontbars, but of course that's only if the Kickstarter project gets funded. Casetop set their funding goal at $300,000 and right now the project sits at almost $80,000. In other words, they still have a ways to go before the Casetop becomes a reality.

Any takers? What if BlackBerry built something similar? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on Casetop and let us know how you'd feel purchasing a BlackBerry built product like this.

Learn more about Casetop on Kickstarter

Reader comments

Casetop KickStarter project shows one vision of mobile computing


Heck yes, I don't touch my playbook or laptop now that I have the zed10 I would use a doc like this.

Posted via CB10

This isn't exactly a new idea. There was a Motorola Android phone a few years ago that had this feature, but it didn't really catch on. This is a better idea though since it works with any phone. That one was a specific phone and a specific dock for just that one phone. I kind of wonder how they are planning on making this work for multiple types of devices though...

Very little planning is needed. Some of my development projects were used in early prototypes and is based around what most mid to upper tier phones are already capable of.

There is a rumor that BB will release a device like this in the holiday season and its in testing right now. The codename for it is suppose to be the cafe series I think.

I think BlackBerry WILL offer something conceptually similar to this. Except it will be wireless and won't have a keyboard.

From the awesome virtual keyboard of my Z10

Lol! Started reading from the second paragraph actually and remembered the picture of the BB10 dock. lol! Next time I'll read it from the start. :)

This looks like a great product but how does it really differ from my playbook functionality?
The playbook provides the same features and i can also plug into HDMI to watch full screen or work full screen.

Good luck guys it looks great but alas not sure how it will fit into my IT structure.

with QnX, a much more interesting active 'dock' can be created.

So I pass this one, and keep my imaginary doc.

Posted via CB10

I want it too but, I want the alert notification to work first. It doesn't work on the Z10, (US version). Im talking about the alert notification you are supposed to get while you are on a call and an email or text is coming in. If I'm on a call and my child text me I won't get the text until I get off the call or look down at the blinking LED. A parent should never have to worry about losing contact from their child. We worry about other things. Fix this problem blackberry.

Posted via CB10

" If I'm on a call and my child text me I won't get the text until I get off the call"
Isn't this based on the carriers network? This should work with T-Mobile and AT&T (talk and data at the same time) but not sure about Verizon and Sprint. Who do you use?

I've addressed this directly with BlackBerry support via their forums and it's currently not supported by BB10

Posted via CB10

If I'm on a call I get a notification when I receive an email or text and I have a Z10. It's pretty annoying to be honest.

Since this is at least the third time you have posted this comment I'm starting to wonder what kind of neurotic life you lead! I was born and raised before cell phones were prevalent. How did my parents ever manage this herculean feat!?? There were literally minutes out of every day where they could not get a hold of me at all.

Posted via CB10

I totally want this! They should call it the BlackBerry Pi (with the pi symbol). It's like your phone is the "filling" and the peripherals are the "crust". ;)

Posted via CB10

This isn't new. "Dumb" devices have been around since the dawn of computing. Bear in mind that Motorola bombed out big time with the Atrix, which had a similar dock available.

I don't bring the Atrix up to suggest this is a bad idea, but just as a reminder that execution is EVERYTHING.

I agree, execution is everything. This is very well done because it works with over 14 different manufactureres' smartphones.This device is platform agnostic. Very much worth your time to check it out on Kickstarter.

Wolf35nine-i have T-Mobile. I spoke with them today and they referred me to Blackberry. I spoke with a representative that first said that it is how the Z10 is supposed to operate. I questioned his statement then he said it should be fixed with the next update but could not give me an expected date. This is unexceptable. That's why I'm gonna post this comment everyday until someone from BlackBerry get the message.

Posted via CB10

The PlayBook works great with it's bluetooth keyboard case. Absolutely no need for a weird docking station when BlackBerry has the capability and now the platform to launch all inclusive tablet computers that completely replace laptops and desktops.

Laptops and desktops are old school and lame. They're today's cassettes. So, let's try to move forward instead of repeatedly going back to the same old same old.

Seriously BlackBerry - make an all inclusive BlackBerry 10 tablet computer that I cvan run my businesses off. Take this opportunity to KILL THE MIDDLE parts, seriously.

I don't want to need a windows computer to support my BlackBerry computing devices. I should be able to use a super exciting BlackBerry tablet for everything, including supporting my BlackBerry devices.

Anybody get what I'm saying?!? BlackBerry has an opportunity to be a choice against the mac and pc. Right beside the surface tablet should be a BlackBerry version for me to choose, that does not require me to have another type of device.

Posted via CB10

The device you want you already have. What you should be able to do with it in the not too distant future is simply plug it in to a device like this, this device will be cheap enough to be every where. Every seat on a plane, your desk at work, at home, maybe even a blue tooth display on your shopping cart, all connected to you through your phone.

I don't need and no longer want to own another laptop or desktop PC, 99% of what I do electronically doesn't or no longer needs a PC. I see value for me in having everything I need accessible all the time anywhere I am. I see value in my phone telling the store I just walked into why I am there and that store telling me through my phone where to find it, all seamlessly.

Posted via CB10

Totally agree! Convergence is coming. Smartphone as cpu which will communicate with other devices for many different purposes. Right now most high end smartphones have the equivalent processing power of your average laptop from circa 2004 to 2008. Plug your phone into a high quality device like the Casetop and you have a laptop with a high quality full sized keyboard,a 720 or 1080 p screen, and a 30 plus hour battery. It works with almost any smartphone, and will last for the next 10 years!

Reminds me of the laptop dock that Motorola released for its Axiom phones -- except not as sexy looking.

There are two factors which determine success with these devices: (1) how will it connect to the phone and (2) will carriers find some way of counting the phone + dock as a separate device for billing purposes.

First, if it works like the PlayBook keyboard and drains your mobile device's battery by requiring a Bluetooth or even a wifi connection, I doubt z10 owners are going to bite.

Second, with the Axiom keyboard, U.S. carriers counted it as a separate device and charged for an extra data plan. If I were Motorola, all hell would have broken out, but in the oligopoly that is U.S. wireless, you can only push back so hard without harming long term prospects.

And, finally, the price of $250 is too much for most consumers without distinguishing hardware. I could buy a chromebook with better hardware for that price. The only advantage here is that someone who has invested a large amount in mobile apps, might be able to use that library on a larger, more comfortable form factor. I'd probably buy one if BlackBerry made it, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to friends. I'd expect the BlackBerry version to have a screen and keyboard better than comparable netbooks and a battery that lasts all night, though. :-)

Posted via CB10

How about a thirty plus hour battery life, that charges your phone at the same time instead of draining it? No way the phone company would even know you were using it. It's basically an amplifier for your telephones usefulness. You really should go to the Kickstarter site and read about it for yourself .

I was being sarcastic with the "cool idea". I don't want to have to have separate mobile computing platforms to achieve my goals of mobile computing. I want BlackBerry to be that entire solution. I want this so bad, that I actually only use my BlackBerry 10 devices for anything and everything. I want to keep being able to do that in new ways with BlackBerry alone.

Posted via CB10

A business needs to be able to run their entire show with BlackBerry alone. That's what I want to see. A completely mobile workforce, paperless too. Why the heck not? It's time now for that to be spearheaded by BlackBerry. I think that's what they want. Hopefully. Either way, BlackBerry 10 for life. 247365

Posted via CB10

You can run your business off a Playbook now, if you run your apps off Citrix. LITTLE pricey for a small shop, but possibly worth it.

I used to work that way with my PlayBook until I got my Z10 (which I love) but now that the bridge is so useless I never even pick up my beloved PlayBook. Just fix the bridge and I'm happy!

Posted via CB10

This already had funding and support from the Android development community. I can't wait to see what BB folks bring to the table.

The way I see it happening is that you have a dumb screen into which your BlackBerry plugs, only to get power, and then the phone connects to the screen, separate keyboard and mouse using blue tooth. Make the package $150 without phone, cheaper if bought together. Supper light weight and cheap portable computer considering the phone might only cost $99 on contract. No need for third parties.

Posted via CB10

Price the same high quality parts sourced from China and you'll see that very little margin is being made at 250.

Just pondering the idea of some kind of remote screen viewing solution between PlayBook and bb10 devices to get full bb10 experience on playbook without installing full os as an update. If they jus fixed the bridge and had remote viewing or even a dock that remotely controlled your bb10 phone from the playbook. This could potentially work both ways, accessing apps and files from your playbook remotely from your phone. Wouldn't this be easier than squeezing bb10 onto the 2yr old, 1gb playbooks?

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry should partner with this dude. Will be a good success story for the young man and also a big company believing in the independent talent. (Great newspaper material)

BlackBerry Z10, CB10.

Before the Z10, I used my PlayBook w/ bluetooth keyboard case quite a bit. Now, that whole setup is mostly used as an expensive alarm clock in the morning. Just last week, I even started throwing it in the Otter box after work and letting my 3 year old play games.

That being said; I'd be happy with a semi portable docking station for the Z10 for travel and at home, and another more permanent setup that will allow me to use dual full sized monitors at work. No more swapping media and info between several different devices. One device; multiple ways to work with it. To me, that's the ideal scenario for mobile computing.

Posted via CB10

The Casebook is what you are talking about here! It will not suffer the same fate your Playbook did after you upgraded to the Z10. And a 30+ hour battery that charges your phone at the same time - that's insane! You've got to head over to Kickstarter and at least check it out!

To clear up some things for folks.
It charges your phone while you use it.
(most) Display output port(s), Blue Tooth and HID input is all that needed for it to work.
Couple years from now that $250 Chromebook will be unsupported and slow but that new 50 core phone will simply plug in.
BB may make a dock like this but how many phone generations do you think will it be supported? The same goes for any phone manufacturer really. More money in making you buy new accessories than supporting the old one.
Carriers charging extra is not likely unless they want to start charging you for plugging you phone into a TV.
IT use depends on whether or not the BB has IT tools or Linux chroot support. On Android folks are running Backtrack v10 for both white and black hat purposes. Casetop would simply make this easier.
Guild Wars 2, no. However everything from Atari 2600 to PSX/PSP via emulators will run. If Steam gets released for Ubuntu ARM then maybe?
Partnership with phone manufacturers is unlikely. (detailed response would be paragraphs long)
Cost too much. Visit the kickstarter and look at the hardware. Hit one of the Chinese wholesale site and price it the parts in 10k lots. At $250 the margin is pretty small.
I will not go into why Motorola failed but will say that I gave them a possible way out for free and they refused.

How is this patent, or product even valid in the gave of a a two year old palmtop from Motorola used by the Atrix, Atrix 4G, and the last few DROID devices?!

Posted via CB10

By main doubt: a phone as a palm rest.
But if they put in a keyboard of Thinkpad's quality and ergonomic, I'm in.

There is a new option that puts the phone in a pocket to the right of the keyboard. I agree, the front location would interfere with my typing. As for keyboard quality, think Mac. And a 30+ hour battery? Crazy!

I just connected my blackberry bluetooth keyboard to my Z10 and attached the HDMI cable to my desk monitor....just saved myself $250... ;)

I suppose its a good idea, but I see too many issues. First of all, a using a computer sized keyboard without a palm rest is extremely uncomfortable and tiring. Also, it appears that to make use of the front bar, the casetop has to be sitting on a flat surface so the phone doesn't just fall right through the bottom. This means it cant be used on your lap or anywhere other than a table.

Both concerns have been addressed in a recent redesign. There is now an option to have the phone in a right side pocket with a bottom to it. Go check it out on the Kickstarter site. They just updated the main page. Be sure to click on "read more"

This Kickstarter has no touchscreen, so I would rather Blackberry design something that has touchscreen support, and squeeze more content into the screen.

Posted via CB10

Thanks very much for your post on this. One other thing - a 30+ hour battery. That's what the Casetop essentially is - a huge battery with keyboard and screen. It even charges your phone while you use it. BTW, you may want to check out the new designs over on the Kickstarter site.