Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

US startup Fledging expands an iPad to PC-like levels

One of the more unique gadgets we’re seeing at CES is meant for an iPad, and ideal for folks who want their iPad to have the ports a laptop might have.

An iPad is a pretty solid mobile computer, but as great as the range is, you’re not given a whole lot of ports to work with. That’s part of what working in the iPad world is like: you’ll either have a Lightning port and a headset jack, or just a USB Type C port if you have one of the “pro” models.

Every iPad is pretty good — every iPad we’ve tested, anyway, and we’ve tested the entire range — but they can feel a touch limited if you want to plug something in.

For instance, if you want to plug in a memory card, you can’t, and you need to bring a converter and make it work. Or if you want to plug your iPad into a HDMI port, you need a cable that goes from the iPad’s main port over to HDMI, or use an Apple TV with AirPlay.

As good as the iPad is, it’s not as expandable as a laptop, much to the dismay of some users.

Fortunately, there’s a gadget being shown at CES 2021 that aims to bring those features to the iPad, almost as if they were brought back, except they never existed at all on the iPad to begin with.

It’s coming from a startup in America’s South, and probably one you’ve never heard of, because we hadn’t either. Called Fledging it has developed something it calls the “Hubble”, which is a little like a port replicator for an iPad Pro, but a case, as well.

The concept is a speciality aluminium case that protects the iPad Pro and supports a magnetic cover, but also adds ports to either the 10.9 inch iPad Air from last year, the 11 inch iPad Pro from the past two years, or the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, including the standard rectangular USB Type A port, two of the current universal USB Type C ports, a 4K compatible HDMI port, an SD card slot, a microSD slot, and a 3.5mm headset jack, making the iPad more like a laptop than simply the one port iPad. There’s also a power switch up the top, because the ports on the Hubble need to be powered, and they don’t always need to be switched on.

“We set out to fix the iPad’s shortcomings while respecting its beauty,” Ethan Summers, CEO of Hubble, who told Pickr that their mission was to bring premium electronics to as many people as possible.

“Tech is a human right. It’s hard to live in a modern world without a good device.”

The release of Hubble comes on the back of another gadget Fledging makes that aims to unlock the potential of another style of Apple computer, albeit an older one.

People with older Macs may not have the ability to upgrade those Macs due to how Apple tends to solder down the hardware inside. So Fledging built a solution in the form of a solid-state upgrade for the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Mini, and Mac Pro models made from 2010 to 2019.

It’s essentially an upgradeable solid-state drive for a computer that’s not been made to receive those updates, shipping with a formatted version of macOS on the drive and essentially making for a fast restore process, excluding the time it takes to restore your computer from the backup.

Feather SSD upgrade for Macs
Feather SSD upgrade for Macs

“Our founders realised that lots of ecosystems are almost great or have fatal flaws,” Summers said to Pickr.

“For Mac, it’s SSD upgrades. Apple loves to sell you a new device, so they don’t love SSD upgrades,” he said. “But Macs are so well built – why should we throw away the whole device just because the SSD is wearing out?”

“That’s what we try to build: a product that unlocks a system for people.”

For Fledging, those products are still fairly new, and may not be easy to find within Australia. However, thanks to the internet, it’s just a hop, skip and a click away, at least until Fledging finds an entry in our market down under.

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