First Look: Brydge keyboard for iPad (Verdict: Decent)

First Look: Brydge keyboard for iPad (Verdict: Decent)

Summary: There are a million keyboard options for the iPad, but this one is definitely one of the coolest. And it's a Kickstarter project, so there's that...

TOPICS: iPad, Apple, Reviews
First Look: Brydge keyboard for iPad - Jason O'Grady

If you have an iPad, odds are that you sometimes wish it had a real keyboard. I know that I think that every time I use my iPad. But hey, that's me. 

One day, a Kickstarter project called Brydge caught my eye. No, it wasn't the horrible name, it was more about the fact that it was a keyboard with a hinge that effectively turned the full-size iPad into a 10-inch MacBook Air. (Albeit, without the trackpad, and OS X and, well... ok, so it's not a MacBook Air).

Instead of incorporating the iPad keyboard into a case, or into a cover, Brydge threw caution to the wind and said, "hell with it" and added two simple hinges and the keyboard is the case (or the cover, if you prefer), and it's rather Mac-like. From a distance, Brydge is easy to mistake for a MacBook Air.

I first wrote about Brydge in April 2012, shortly after the Kickstarter launched (back then it had a black hinge). The hinge got a reboot in August 2012 and people complained like crazy. The new hinge design was minimal and aluminum, and some people liked the chunkier, black 1.0 hinge. The new hinge design works pretty well and attaches very tightly to my iPad 3 in my initial testing. (Silicone shims are included for the iPad 2, 3 and 4).

Once attached to your iPad, just flip a switch on the side of Brydge, pair it to the iPad and you're off to the races. Brydge has a lithium lion battery which they claim will last for "months" (in the speakerless configuration) before a needing a recharge but I obviously haven't had a chance to verify that claim. 

Typing on Brydge is surprisingly good, although I've only used it for a grand total of about an hour since unboxing it. The keyboard layout is slightly different from the Apple MacBook and wireless keyboards (for example, the backspace key is smaller), but the shape, profile, and key travel are remarkably close to Apple's. Touch typists will require a little retraining, but not a horrible amount.

Brydge has a few extra function keys across the top of the keyboard that are welcome additions, including a "home" key that emulates the home button on the iPad -- a nice touch. One minor annoyance was that I kept reaching for the non-existent trackpad during my keyboard testing. But the fact that it so closely simulated a MacBook Air could also be considered a plus.

(Note to Apple: iOS need mouse/trackpad support really badly. That's one thing that Apple could learn from the otherwise awful Surface.)

The Kickstarter is long over, but you can pre-order your very own Brydge for $150 (black polycarbonate), $170 (aluminum), or $210 (aluminum with speakers) plus $10 domestic shipping from Pre-orders are expected to begin shipping on December 1, 2012.

What's your take on iPad keyboards? If you pair an $800 iPad to a $200 keyboard, does it equal a $1,000 MacBook Air?

First Look: Brydge keyboard for iPad - Jason O'Grady

Topics: iPad, Apple, Reviews

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  • Design

    Personally, I did think the original one-piece hinge looked much better than this new re-design. From the outside, this one just looks a bit weird. Also, a keyboard back-lighting feature would in my opinion amp up the value of this rather expensive solution. At this price, I am not exactly being detoured away from the sleeker Clamshell Case.
  • Received the new Brydge with speakers today 11/30/12

    Just received my Brydge with speakers today Nov. 30th, 2012. I had mixed feelings about the redesigned hinges when I read about it online and from the updates, but I have to say it's not all that bad in person. It came with aluminum hinges (not plastic) so it looks infinitely better than the black plastic color shown in the photos. It also comes with multiple sets of colored shim inserts. It came with the white shim inserts attached, but I swapped it for the black ones that I think look much better personally. Think.....silver/black vs. silver/white. I have the iPad 2 which it came set up for, but it includes 2 additional shims in black and white for the generation 3 iPad in case you upgrade. Black stickers are also included so you have a choice to make the inside front black to match your screen border....which I also thinks looks better. I'm still trying to determine if the speakers are actually louder or better than the iPad speakers. They are "stereo" but that's not readily discernible since it's like having 2 small speakers side by side .....but the volume on max really only sounds maybe slightly louder ...and I attribute that more to the keyboards speaker facing you .....more than it actually being much louder than the side/back facing iPad speaker. I did hope it would be somewhat louder than it is. If this was the new upgraded speaker, then I would not have wanted to hear whatever it was before the upgrade. In my opinion the speaker is the biggest let down in terms of what I had expected for paying the extra bucks. It's not that much of an improvement in sound.....except if you are sitting directly in front of the keyboard. If you walk away from it, it's probably about the same. Not a deal breaker for me ..... but not sure I'd opt for the speakers if I had to order all over again.

    It would have been interesting to have actually seen and touched the old hinge design since that is what attracted most of us backers to the design in the first place....but I'm not horrified by the new hinge design as it serves it's purpose to securely hold fast to the iPad. I believe the original hinge would have made seating the iPad "perfectly centered" easier.....with the new design you have "manually" try to "center it" so that it's aligned properly with the keyboard edges when it's closed....but you can adjust it fairly easily with slight pressure when it's closed to align it perfectly. I suspect the new design is probably lighter than the original hinge as well.

    Bottom line for me is that when I first opened it I did immediately wonder if the old design would be better. Visually I had a moment of "Ummm, this isn't as good looking as I had hoped, nor as intriguing as the original looked the first time I saw it advertised online in Kickstarter"......but in short order it DID grow on me as soon as I swapped to the black shim inserts and black has a cleaner/sleeker look in black (the white looked a little cheap-ish-er)
  • Clam case vs. Brydge

    I have it narrowed down to these two keyboard/cases, but I am growing less enthralled with the Brydge. Can someone explain why you need to use shims? And if you separate the iPad from the case, do you need to install new shims? If Jason gave the brydge decent, what did he give the clam case?
  • planned obsolescence?

    I wonder about the wisdom of hinges vs the case. A case will never break, and if something does happen to it, it is replaceable independent of the keyboard it holds.

    Break the hinges on this gizmo and the only thing you can do with it is look for a case to put it in.
  • not impressed

    I was expecting more, may be too much.:) It's heavy, so the chances I will casually pop it into my handbag attached to the iPad are slim. Missing trackpad- not that it was promised but I expected the up and down arrows to move the page.
    I was most disappointed by the speaker's quality which, upon testing it back to back with the iPad's original speaker, proved to be inferior, as opposed to boosting the volume and sound quality alike.
    After about an hour of typing, the keyboard works perfectly in some places, but when commenting on an online newspaper article, the typing was erratic. Every word was typed doubling the initial letter and the backspace was very slow.
    I am not sure if I will keep it or not, but I definitely am not reassured by the lack of a more detailed user's manual in the package nor a phone number or easy access to customer support.
  • Good review. Why not trying this ?

    There is no doubt this keyboard is good.However,after a hard search,I found Sharksucker Keyboard Case for my iPad 3.It is the latest keyboard case for iPad which is made of high end of aluminum and marks up my iPad Sharksucker Keyboard Case on the look and the style and the quality. Another spot is it's Germany layout.I found no other sellers selling this in German layout. It's so great. I share it here just because I think the more choices of keyboard cases for iPad,the better for us consumers.
  • There's something better than this :)

    What this article says is so good. Since iPad was born 3 years ago,many accessories,like keyboard cases,were born for iPad. E.G. Logitech iPad Keyboard and Clamcase iPad Keyboard Case are both pretty cool,yet not nood enough and way too expensive. The latest Sharksucker Keyboard Case for JSXL Technology is a great alternative with high quality and good price. Sharksucker Keyboard Case
    Ravindu Samarakone
  • review

    after using brydge a few weeks.

    1. keyboard layout does take a little getting used to but feels pretty nice imo

    2. the speaker is louder and has a noticeably wider range than that of the ipad

    3. the hinges are very sturdy and hold my ipad much more secure than i thought it would

    4. battery life appears to be excellent, ive yet to run it dead

    5. build quality, the brydge is built like a sherman tank

    6. asthetically has an apple quality look and feel

    Is it worth the price tag? that's something you have to decide for Yourself. I am happy with mine. And it was worth the price and wait for me.

    All in all for a new company with no history in this type of market i think the TheBrydge as a whole will do well.

    Also i think they designed this keyboard to be upgradeable in the furture, and wouldn't be suprised to see a backlit keyboard replacement available in the future as well as different types of shim inserts.
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