I’ve had the Brydge Keyboard for my 10.5-inch iPad Pro for about two weeks now, and I have thoughts. My iPad is space gray, but I went with rose gold for the keyboard just to get a little funky.TL;DR: I’m actually split on it, moreso than most other recent gadget purchases. I have two more weeks before I decide whether to return it. But for now, here are some quick pros and cons I’ve seen so far.
Overall construction is solid. It’s a pretty solid chunk of aluminum weighing 520g / 1.14lb.
Ability to pick a display angle brings a ‘best of both worlds’ feeling to working on an iPad. In fact, because of the hinge design, you can actually lean it back farther than most Mac and PC notebooks allow.
The keyboard feels mostly pretty good overall, though more on that below. It’s also one of the few backlit keyboards for iPad, and lighting is good.
The shortcut bar is useful. Granted, iOS 11 has a lot of Mac-like keyboard shortcuts now. It’s still nice to have conveniences like display brightness, media controls, and keys for Home and Spotlight.
It’s easy to place and remove the iPad from the hinge. I often like to use my iPad with no keyboard, so I prefer options that don’t require a body case or other stuff that gets in my way. It’s easy to just pull my iPad off Apple’s Smart Keyboard, and I’m happy to say it’s the same with the Brydge. Its two hinges have rubber covers to help grip the iPad and keep it in place, so I can carry the setup around like a classic notebook. But it’s also easy to use a little tug and remove my iPad entirely.
The Bridge Keyboard’s design blocks some new iOS 11 gestures. I wager the keyboard is a solid chunk of aluminum to provide a weight offset for balancing the iPad on a hinge. But that also means it’s so thick that I can’t really swipe up from the bottom of the display for the new iOS 11 Dock or App Switcher, which I vastly prefer over the Command+Tab switcher. One perk, or perhaps a workaround: you can still double-press the Home button to display the Dock and App Switcher, at least for now.
Key travel is more than I’d like. Context: I’m on the other end from many in the Apple community—the shorter the key travel, the better. Current hardware defects of the MacBook and Pros aside, they’re my favorite keyboards I’ve ever used.
That said, the Brydge Keyboard (and most iPad keyboards I’ve used) has more travel than I’d like, though it isn’t a deal breaker. In the early days, I was making far more typos than with any keyboard in recent memory. I can adapt though, and I got used to it over these last two weeks. The missed characters and typos are mostly gone.
No Smart Connector support. It’s an old school Bluetooth keyboard. The batteries in most of these keyboards last so darn long, I don’t mind it much. But power through the Smart Connector, like Apple’s keyboard, would be nice.
At some angles during lap use, the hinge allows iPad to lean back a little more than I’d like. It less of a big problem, more like a minor, occasional annoyance. I suspect Brydge designed this primarily for desk use, where the rubber feet on the hinges would help keep the iPad at a steady angle.
The weight is something to consider. With an iPad already at 477g / 1.05lb, this package becomes a 2+ lb machine, which is in 12-inch MacBook territory. Apple’s Smart Keyboard is noticeably lighter (there’s no weight listed at Apple.com). I don’t think it’s a huge deal for most folks, but it’s probably something to be aware of.
Still on the fence
Even after writing all this out, I’m not sure whether to keep my Brydge Keyboard or return it and go back to Apple’s. I need to spend more time with mine, and I’ll let you know if I discover more as I spend the next two weeks to make my decision.