When it comes to desktop computing, multiple screens is advantageous (unless you prefer just one massive screen). With our phones, though, we’re constrained to just a single screen (unless you screencast or something, but that’s just mirroring). What if you could have a second screen built into your phone case? The Castaway is offering just that – turning your phone into a Samsung Fold clone – but without the breaking screen.
Disclaimer: John Biggs (one of the owners of KN) is also the CMO for Castaway, so there is a connection between the company and this site. That said, I wrote this without his input (or review), and reflects my opinions on the product. Now, back to the device.
‘To be perfectly fair, the Castaway is putting a second screen (that is powered by a separate device) right next to your phone, in a case held together via magnets. That second device is a small Chromium-powered tablet, which means it can function independently. So far, that’s not that different than just carrying two devices. Where it starts to change is with the MultiTask+ app, which allows the device to talk to your phone over a local wifi connection (or bluetooth, if you prefer).
The Castaway isn’t allowing you to move apps between screens or anything like that (though it does allow for copy/paste between the screens). What I see here is a device that is interesting, and could have some legs to it, provided developers get behind it. Right now, what it’s doing is giving you somewhere else to run your tasks (watching a video, streaming podcasts, whatever) that then saves your phone battery. Or, say, lets you look things up while you’re on the phone. Limited functionality here, but hardware has to start somewhere, and hopefully the apps catch up.
The Castaway can also act as a battery pack for your phone, as it contains its own battery. Need to top off your phone? Just plug it in to the Castaway, and vampire those electrons right from the Castaway. One of the other interesting uses is a trackpad / keyboard mode. If you get it working with some game controller standards, that would be an interesting way to get some dual-screen gaming in, ala the Nintendo DS.
That could all just be a fever dream I’m having. As I mentioned, this is new hardware, and it had to come first before the software solutions come along. If you want to get in and help bring this device to life, you can back it over on Indiegogo. Pricing starts at $139, with shipping anticipated for May 2020. The funding sits at 14% with things wrapping up on December 28. For me, I’m cautiously curious – it’s a good concept, but a lot will depend on the software development that comes up around the device. project page
Specs from Castaway
- Compatibility: iOS & Android?
- Operating System: Chrome OS
- Display: 6.3 & 5.8 with Multi-Touch Screen QXGA Screen
- CPU: OP1, Made for Chromebooks, Hexa-core (Dual ARM? Cortex?-A72, Quad Cortex?-A53 big.LITTLE? configuration) Processor, 1.5 GHz (up to 2.0 GHz)?Memory LPDDR3 1866MT/s 4GB
- Graphics: Mali-T864
- Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Wireless Data Network
- WLAN 802.11 [email protected]/ 5GHz
- Bluetooth V4.1
- 2 MP Front Camera
- 5 MP Rear Camera
- Audio: Stereo Speakers
- 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
- Battery: 35 WHr battery Li-Polymer, 1S2P
- Power Adapter: Adaptor type: Adapter with power cord; Output: 15V/3A DC 45W with Type-C connector; Input: 100~240V AC, 50/60Hz universal
- Standard: Black
- Upgrade Options: Chrome & Black Leather?
- 14.6 x 8.5 x 1.5cm castAway One
- 16 x 9.4 x 1.5 cm castAway One Plus
- Weight: 0.18 kg
- Accessories: EMR stylus