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Kickstarter of the Week: Make Any Smartphone a Laptop

Mon, 05/20/2013 - 10:39am
Melissa Fassbender, Associate Editor, PD&D

With Casetop, every phone becomes a laptop.

A self-proclaimed nerd by trade, John Andrus, Founder of Livi Design, is turning ordinary smartphones into laptops with the launch of the Casetop.

Watch Video: Turn Your Smartphone Into a Laptop

After the iPhone debuted, Andrus knew that smartphones were going to become a disruptive technology. So why not do more to harness the devices power? After asking this question, he sat down and started designing his idea.

“Ideas are very fragile,” he says. “You have to get them down really quickly, but they take a lot of work to think through. It is easy to get an initial product down and think you are done. You really have to throw it out, again and again, until it’s perfect, and you can build up the features that make sense with what you really want to do.”

From the bottom up, the Casetop is simply a dock for your smartphone, turning it from a handheld device into a fully functional laptop. The Casetop is compatible with any Smartphone that has a video out option and Bluetooth, and will be supported by new phones for a minimum of ten years from point-of-sale by using standardized ports such as HDMI, MHL, and MicroUSB.

“I really wanted it to be universal because I feel like companies have been not friendly to their customers by requiring them to spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on accessories,” Andrus explains.

What does one Casetop come with? 

  • 1 Casetop Main Body
  • 2 Casetop Frontbars
  • Compatible with more than 200 phones
  • Charging Cable

Specifications:

  • 11.1 Inch 720p HD LED Backlit LCD Screen (1080p screen upgrade for $120)
  • 56 Watt Hour Battery Pack (Est. Equivalent of a 6 Cell Laptop pack)
  • Full size 78-key keyboard
  • 2x 1 Watt High Fidelity Speakers
  • 1x Standard HDMI Input
  • 1x MHL Video Input, Power Output. Dual mode Micro USB
  • 1x 3.5 mm Audio Output
  • 1x Full-size 'Always Powered' USB for charging other products
  • Thickness: 0.8 inches closed, bottom is 0.375 inches thick
  • Power Supply - Input 100-240 V, 50-60 Hz Output 24 V

If Casetop reaches the stretch goal for the HD screen ($100,000 over its $300,000 goal) those who upgraded to the 1080p screen for the extra $120 will receive a free AndyBar (an Android Computer built into an extra Frontbar). As of today (5/20) Casetop has raised $75,985 with 13 days to go.

The AndyBar is the perfect example of how Andrus is working to make the Casetop a product that is infinitely upgradable. He describes this as “the house approach,” where instead of buying a new house when you want an upgrade, you expand the living room, or knock down a wall in the kitchen.

“I’m sick of planned obsolescence; it’s time for planned forever,” he explains.

Andrus wants people to use the Casetop as long as possible. If any part becomes damaged, you can ship your Casetop back, and they will fix it for $10 - plus the cost of the part. Andrus says, “I think we can change the world a little bit, by having cheaper, yet high quality electronics available to everyone.” He even plans on working with inner city schools in the future, outfitting them with their own Casetops and Raspberry Pis as a cost effective alternative to expensive electronics.

Livi Designs currently has 17 different models in the works. Two of these include a wireless AirPlay compatible front bar that would allow you to remotely connect your phone to the Casetop. Another incorporates solar panels making the Casetop even more energy efficient.

“Expect more from your tech makers,” Andrus says. “They are taking your money from you; they should be giving you some life.”

Funding for the Casetop ends June 2nd.

Casetop Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lividesign/casetop-every-phone-becomes-a-laptop

 

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