Both second-screen and Chromebook functionality can now be had in a single smartphone thanks to a new device called the castAway case.
Created by a group comprised of former HP, Microsoft, Dell, and Intel innovators, the easy-to-use smartphone case performs both tasks and supports two form factors and two sizes. The small variant, the castAway One runs at 5.8-inches while a larger castAway One Plus 6.3-inch variant supports larger devices. Across both size categories, the case supports either iPhone or Samsung Galaxy devices at launch.
CastAway has also now surpassed its original Indiegogo crowdfunding goal. As of this writing, the campaign has raised 29-percent more than asked for originally at $64,510, all within a 48-hour span. More devices will be added later on and the goal being surpassed means that users are free to request designs that will fit their device. The steps to do that are provided over on the Indiegogo campaign itself.
To begin with, the castAway case supports Apple's iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max. It also supports the Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, Note 7, Note 8, Note 9, and Note 10. It looks as though the Galaxy Note 10+ falls just a bit too large for use here.
So where's the 'Chromebook' in this smartphone case?
One of many aspects of the castAway case that sets it apart is that the second screen is not, in fact, just a screen. This both is and isn't a device users will simply pop their phone into and extend their display. Both size and device categories for this case run on Chrome OS. So, what users are getting for their money with this case is actually a Chromebook-style smartphone.
That comes complete with USB-C horizontal and vertical ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an EMR stylus. The castAway case battery is comparable to a smartphone battery too, allowing standalone use.
MicroSD card support is also part of the package, as is a G-Sensor and Gyro, 36Wh battery, Chrome OS-ready OP1 Hexa-core processor clocked at up to 2.0GHz, and 4GB RAM. That's all tucked behind the respective multi-touch QXGA screen along with 32GB of storage.
Another design, currently in development, will extend that further via a castAway dock. The docking station is expected to follow-up on the castAway case 'quickly' and brings HDMI and LAN connections. The castAway case is already packed with Bluetooth 4.1 for keyboard and accessory pairing. It has its own power supply as well, meaning it could feasibly be used as a full desktop-style laptop or connected to a TV or other display for more traditional desktop use.
Budget-friendly second-screen and smartphone case all-in-one
Far beyond being a Chromebook, the castAway case is also a smartphone accessory. It attaches to a smartphone via an included smartphone case via a magnetic hinge. That joins the Chromebook side to the phone for second-screen functionality — via a MultiTask+ app. The app connects the devices over an encrypted WiFi channel for security, reduced latency, and to keep everything smooth.
Once connected, the castAway case is an extension of the smartphone. The included USB-C ports can even be used to charge both devices. The closest approximation to the full functionality can be found in LG's Dual Display case, now found for both the LG V50 ThinQ and LG G8X ThinQ. But the magnetic attachment, Chrome OS, and the hardware make an enormous difference here since castAway can be used independently or as a second screen.
Simultaneously, it's not immediately clear how much protection the case will provide but at 0.6mm thin, it's not going to add a lot of bulk either. The hinge is a 360-degree design too. So it can be used as a laptop, folded into a tablet, and in a tent or stand orientation.
Specs tell a fuller story for this Chromebook smartphone case
The castAway One and castAway One Plus smartphone case are each more than ready to boost productivity for iPhone and Samsung Galaxy users, with more devices presently planned and in the works. But that doesn't tell the whole story. So here's a quick rundown of the specs as provided by castAway.
|Screen size||castAway One 5.8-inches|
castAway One Plus 6.3-inches
|Display||Multi-Touch QXGA Screen|
|SoC||OP1 Processor, Made for Chromebooks|
Hexa-core (2x ARM Cortex-A72, 4x ARM Cortex-A53) 1.5 GHz (up to 2.0 GHz)
Graphics – Mali-T864
|RAM||4GB LPDDR3 1866|
|Cameras||2 MP Front Camera|
5 MP Rear Camera
|Battery||35 WHr battery Li-Polymer, 1S2P|
|Ports||Horizontal & Vertical USB 3.1 gen1 Type-C Ports (Full-function, support PD+Alt. mode+BC1.2, Support NB charging)|
1X Audio Combo Jack
1 x micro SD card
|Connectivity||WLAN 802.11 [email protected]/ 5GHz, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Device-to-device connection||MultiTask+ app, encrypted WiFi|
Upgrade Options: Chrome & Black Leather
14.6 x 8.5 x 1.5cm
castAway One Plus
16 x 9.4 x 1.5cm
iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 8, 8 Plus X, XS, XS Max, XR, 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max
Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, S8+, S9, S9+, S10, S10+, Note 7, Note 8, Note 9, and Note 10
Pricing and availability
The two castAway cases won't only be sold in the US but will ship worldwide, according to the current listing on Indiegogo.
It's not going to cost an arm and a leg either.
For early adopters of the case, the prices start out at $129 for the smaller castAway One. Just $10 more nets buyers the larger castAway One Plus. Pledges to the company go up from there but, for now, it's available in a standard black coloration. Shipping will start in May 2020, if everything moves forward smoothly.
In the future, the company also plans upgraded color options such as Chrome & Black Leather.
When castAway One and castAway One Plus land on the market, they're expected to sell for just a bit more. The smaller design is expected to start at around $249 while the larger "Plus" model will start at $269.
The company admits that "extenuating issues" could potentially slow down the process, resulting in a later launch. However, as noted above, each of the individuals behind the project has a lot of experience in the hardware side of technology development. The project's monetary goal has already been met and surpassed. So this is at least one campaign that should — if not will — be able to press forward regardless of whether any hiccups are encountered.