Brydge Keyboard Case Review

The first keyboard that really does turn your iPad into a mini Macbook Pro

Brydge Keyboard Case Review
WHAT IS IT?

On the surface, the Brydge keyboard looks like any other iPad extension keyboard. It connects to the popular tablet, and allows you to both type text and connect your speakers — essentially turning that slim iPad into a mini laptop. However, the second we actually took the keyboard out of the packaging and connected it to our iPad, it was clear that the Brydge is something very special.

THE PROS

We’ve tested numerous tablet keyboards for TopKit, and not many of them make it onto the site. The chief reason? They’re too cheap, functioning well for a week or two, but after traveling and filing stories with it, the flaws show up; keys stop working, the case stops fitting together properly, or the charge just doesn’t last.

The first thing we noticed was the Brydge’s nice weight. It was substantial, without feeling like you were lugging a full laptop. That’s because it’s made from the same anodized aluminum as the Apple iPad, so it’s solid and sturdy but great for guys on the go. Our iPad 4 slid into the rubber shims securely, without any struggle or worry that you might crack something. Turning the device sideways, our iPad didn’t slide, tilt or fall out; this was a good, clean fit that added a level of confidence when toting the devices around town or on trips. (It does come with other shim sizes to fit other iPads, if you have an older model.) The hinges also angle up to 180 degrees, which made it good for use at either a desk or when reading in bed.

Pairing the keyboard and speakers takes a bit more work than other devices, and you have to follow the enclosed instructions (or on the company website) to make it work. That’s because a unique code is displayed on your iPad when pairing it, without which it won’t work. That may seem annoying initially, but knowing that someone can’t simply steal your Brydge and easily sync it up to their device adds a deterrent level we appreciated.

The keys themselves have a nice clicking weight to them — again, very similar to a Mac laptop — and they come with function keys that let you control things like brightness, volume, and home screen without needing to touch the iPad screen. They’re spaced just far enough that our fat fingers didn’t accidentally hit the wrong keys. We also never felt like it might break from typing too quickly or aggressively; because, let’s face it, when we’re excited or angry about something we tend to type more forcefully, but after a month of using the keyboard and writing numerous stories with it we never ran into problems.

Finally, the charge really held. We charged up the keyboard with the enclosed USB cord and never recharged it again throughout the month. Admittedly, we didn’t play music or sounds on it very often, and we know that this can deplete the battery faster, but for our work purposes it never needed a boost.

THE CONS

We were able to pair the keyboard easily, but the instructions for pairing the speakers were a little strange. It took us three shots to get it right, perhaps because we kept pressing buttons on the keyboard when we should have just been waiting. Our suggestion to not running into this situation? Start playing a song on your iPad, then go to your Bluetooth settings on your iPad. You’ll see the Brydge Speaker option appear when you’ve done it correctly, and when it does appear stop pressing buttons on the keyboard. It will connect shortly.

The other negative for us, was that if we were reading a book or magazine page on the iPad, we sometimes wanted to remove it from the Brydge for easier reading. We don’t enjoy reading these things on a horizontal screen. For us, the vertical view is preferred. But this is an issue with any hard-case keyboard, so it’s not really a design flaw.

CONCLUSION

Of the many keyboards we’ve tried, this is the first one that really feels like you’re transforming your iPad into a small, lightweight-but-sturdy laptop. With the Brydge in hand, we won’t need the laptop on our next trip.