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Brydge iPad Keyboard

Another iPad Keyboard - ones from Brydge.

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I’m an avid iPad user – I rarely leave home with it. One of the few frustrations I do have with them is text entry – a common thing you’ll hear is that the iPad is a great consumption device, but can struggle in producing content. I’d agree with that for the most part as the on-screen keyboard can be a struggle for anything more than a few sentences.

To be fair of course this applies to pretty much any tablet based device that relies on the on-screen keyboard – I run in to the same issue with the Samsung Win 8.1 tablet I have if I don’t have the physical keyboard with me.

I own a number of different keyboards now, including the ones from
Logitech, and they’re great at turning the iPad into a very functional, highly productive device.

Being able to bridge that gap between consumption and creation adds a whole new dimension to the uses for the iPad – it makes it far more than it is ‘out of the box’ if that makes sens.

Anyway, on that front, I spotted some new iPad keyboards doing the round – see here:
BRYDGE.

It’s arguable a keyboard is a keyboard is a keyboard – this is true for ‘normal’ size units but I think when you get to smaller mobile types that the form and functionality of them becomes far more important. What interested me about the Brydge units was that they’re more than a keyboard – they contain decent Bluetooth speakers for example. The ones I had to test were made with very high quality Aluminium rather than cheap-feeling plastic like the Logitich units I have – to be clear, they didn’t feel like ‘cheap plastic’ until I had the Brydge units to play with – they’re just in a different league in terms of tactile feel and perception of quality.

That does add some weight though – combined with my previous gen non-Air iPad the weight felt much the same as my 11.6” Macbook Air. Not heavy of course, but it does add some heft to the iPad.

Getting the iPad in and out of the case – say for example you just want to take the iPad without the keyboard – is a simple and quick exercise, unlike some of the cases that ‘wrap’ around the unit making extraction tricky. This one, after a couple of goes, well, you just forget about it and it comes away as easy as anything.

Getting started with the unit couldn’t be easier – simple pair operation, it took a couple of minutes at best, and you’re up and running.

The typing experience was great! It honestly feels like I’m using my Macbook Air’s keyboard – it’s that good. In fact the only complaint I could have – and it’s a very, very minor one – is that I kept hitting the \ key instead of the up arrow. Not sure if that’s just me, but that particular layout just there seems a little tight. Picky? Yeah, well when reviewing stuff you have to put some effort in don’t you? Like I say, a very picky point and possibly one that’s a personal one.

Again, looking for issues, I guess some people won’t like the fact that with these type of cases the back of the iPad isn’t protected. It’s a problem of the case type I think – cases that do protect the rear are harder to extract the iPad from aren’t they?

Battery life is hard to comment on – it just goes on and on. One thing to be aware of though – it did run out of batteries on me once – when I was using the Bluetooth Speakers an awful lot. Away for the weekend and constantly using the speakers to play music and watch some movies – and it died by the end of the weekend. That’s hardly an issue though, it’s simple to charge, and I can’t imagine you’d generally be using the audio in that manner. Still, if you listen to a lot of music you may want to bear that in mind. The sound quality is quite good considering – not as good as my Jambox, but better than the in-built speakers for music & movies.

Also, I ran into a slight oddity on the speakers – while the keyboard connects almost immediately, I did find that sometimes the speakers did not automatically connect. I had to go in to Bluetooth settings and reconnect? The problem I have with stating this is that it’s not all the time, and I can’t force it to happen. I suppose I could read the instructions and see if that’s expected behaviour? It could be a power saving function for example – I’ll do some digging and update this with what I found.

Do I like this keyboard? Yes, yes I do. It brydges (ha) the gap between my iPad and my travel buddy MB Air quite well, so much so that on the keyboard/iPad combo I often find myself going for the trackpad…that isn’t there. It makes the iPad far more functional than on its own, certainly for email/general input type tasks. From a feel/function perspective it’s by far the best iPad keyboard I’ve used.

Speakers? I’m not convinced they’re necessary in reality – sure slightly better than the in-built, but not a patch on a good Bluetooth set like a Jambox for example. I remain to be convinced on that front.

In summary, these are great units, and add a quality, functional level to your iPad.

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