updated 02:45 am EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
Kickstarter project can also include speakers
On the heels of a similar-looking Japanese keyboard case for the iPad 2, a new Kickstarter project aims to introduce a high-grade aluminum-based Bluetooth case called Brydge that when paired with an iPad closely resembles the body, thickness and weight of a MacBook Air. The main selling point of the Brydge is the unibody aluminum style (as opposed to the metal-painted plastic of the Japanese NotebookCase), along with a "click-in" hinge that allows both a wide range of positioning options and secure carrying.
The hinge system uses metal, thermoplastic and magnets to create a "click-in" locking mechanism that prevents the iPad from slipping out of the case even when lifted and shaken, or carried while open (as seen in the video, below). Users must hold the base firmly and pull upwards to release the iPad from the locking mechanism. The case also features the almost-full-size "chiclet" keyboard style of the MacBook line, including custom keys specifically designed for the iPad (not "generic" tablet keys like most competitor cases).
Unlike the NotebookCase, the unit does not include USB ports, but the Brydge does include upgraded stereo Bluetooth speakers which improve on the iPad's own sound output, as well as a charging port. The company plans to produce models custom-fit for the 2011 and 2012 iPad models, and will produce a limited-edition gold anodized version for backers who pledge $1,000 or more (up to 10 will be made).
The project has picked up notice from the iPad community in recent days, and is quickly closing in on it's $90,000 funding goal. A revised set of rewards for pledges include a minimum $170 pledge to receive one of the units without speakers, and $210 to receive a unit with speakers. All backer slots have limited capacity, and levels less than $170 are completely sold out. The company has not said what the final retail cost will be on the units, but plastic-based keyboard cases for iPads typically start at around $90-100.