Pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad is not a new idea. Over the years, we’ve featured countless keyboards and all but one that I can recall, share a common problem… The iPad and keyboard combo can not easily be used on your lap – like a laptop. If you’re one of those people who like to argue that an iPad is not meant to be used as a laptop in the first place, you can kindly hit the Back button and go read another one of our awesome reviews. But for those of you who like to push the boundaries of what your Apple iOS tablet can do, you’ll want to read what I have to say about the Brydge keyboard for the iPad.
Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.
What’s in the package?
Brydge Bluetooth keyboard
USB charging cable
Quick start guide
iPad 2 shims
iPad 3/4 shims
There are 3 different models of the Brydge. I was sent the polycarbonate composite version with built in Bluetooth speakers. There is also an aluminum version without speakers and an aluminum version with speakers.
The keyboard has a matte finish, with a look and feel that reminds me of my Lenovo work laptop.
There are two rubber bumpers in the front corners that prevent the iPad’s display from pressing against the keys when iPad is in the “closed” position.
There are also rubber feet on the bottom of the keyboard to keep the combo from sliding around on a desk or other smooth surface.
What makes the Brydge one of the best iPad keyboards I’ve tried so far, is the unique holder/hinge design. There are two heavy metal clips on the back edge of the keyboard, that are covered with silicone pads.
The hinges are designed to hold all current iPad models except for the original iPad and the mini.
Depending on which iPad you will be using with this keyboard, you may be required to switch out the silicone covers.
With the right hinge cover in place, the iPad easily and securely fits into the slots. Once inserted, you have a pseudo laptop that may remind you of an Macbook Air. By itself, the Brydge weighs 1 lb 3 oz. An iPad3 / Brydge combo, weighs in at 2 lbs 10.8 oz. My 13″ Macbook Air weights 2 lbs 14.8 oz.
The hinges feel very strong and require some effort to open.
When the iPad is connected to the Brydge, you still have access to all the ports, switches and buttons as long as you remember to orient the iPad with the volume buttons along the top edge.
When folded shut, the iPad will not flop open accidentally.
The keyboard has a built in magnet, so opening and closing it will activate the power toggle on the iPad.
To use the Brydge, you must first charge its batteries using the included micro USB cable. Then you need to pair it with the iPad via Bluetooth. The built in speakers in the Brydge are also Bluetooth, so they will need to be paired if you want to take advantage of that feature.
People that use a hunt and peck style of typing usually don’t care that much about layout, key size, pitch, etc. But as a touch typist, I tend to be really picky about all that stuff. I’ll start by saying that other than Apple’s own wireless keyboard, the Brydge has the nicest feel of any iPad keyboard I’ve reviewed so far. The keys are slightly smaller than the keys on my 13″ Macbook Air, but they they have excellent tactile feedback. I can touch type just as comfortably and quick as I do on my MBA. All the normal keys are there including a full row of number keys and a row of special function keys that control brightness, volume, music playback, etc.
There’s only one thing that keeps me from loving this keyboard and it’s something I’ve seen on other iPad keyboards… it’s the location /size of the right shift key. If you look at the image above, you’ll see that the left and right shift keys are not the same size.
The right shift key is half the size of the left key. Next to the right shift key is the page up key, which I often press when I mean to press the shift button. This causes the cursor to jump up one line. If I’m not paying attention, I’ll start inserting text in the wrong place. It’s really frustrating. To alleviate this problem, I have to slow down my typing and really pay attention to what I’m doing when I need to use the right shift. I don’t like to slow down… 🙂
The layout of the MBA is a lot better. The arrow keys are smaller so that the right shift can be full sized.
The Brydge quickly wakes up after being idle. Even if you flip the power switch on the side of the keyboard, it will quickly pair and be ready for use. To use the speakers you have to toggle them on and off by holding down the Control and B keys till you hear a tone. It’s easy enough to do, but in all honesty, I don’t think the speakers built into the Brydge are any better than the iPad’s own speakers. Yes, the speakers on the Brydge are right in front of you and the iPad’s are facing away and to the rear, but after testing both, I think the iPad’s speakers sound better and fuller. The Brydge speaker’s are weaker and require you to increase the volume level.
Even though the shift key size issue will be annoying for touch typists, the Brydge is the best designed iPad keyboard and is the easiest and most comfortable keyboard accessory that you can use for typing on your lap. If you can get past the shift key and the price – it is very expensive when compared to other keyboards on the market, it’s a winner.