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Brydge SP Max Plus review: A ruggedizing keyboard case for the Surface Pro 8

Brydge is known for its iPad and device keyboard options, but the SP Max Plus keyboard takes a different tact with a protective case and keyboard built for keeping your Surface Pro 8 safe when used outside of the office.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
Pros
  • Four foot drop protection
  • Protective case for tablet use
  • Powered by the Surface Pro 8
  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Three levels of backlighting
  • Full function row of keys
Cons
  • Doesn't charge Surface Pen
  • 2.4 pounds
  • Uses one USB-C port

A couple of months ago I upgraded my work computer from a Surface Pro 6 to a Surface Pro 8 and of course it was just before Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 9 so my timing isn't great. That said, having a Surface Pro 8 did give me the opportunity to test out the Brydge SP Max Plus keyboard and for some users it may be an essential accessory to help you get the most out of the Surface Pro 8, but there are a few areas to improve on in a future variation.

Review: Microsoft Surface Pro 8: Still in love

The Brydge SP Max Plus provides a protective cover for the tablet portion of the Surface Pro 8 and a very capable keyboard with a large trackpad. If you are just looking for a keyboard alternative to the Type Cover, then this keyboard combo isn't really for you. It is clearly built for those working outside the office or maybe inside an office where they walk around with the Surface Pro 8 in tablet mode.

brydge-sp-max-plus-with-sp8

A functional keyboard case with protective cover for the SP8

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Specifications

Drop protection MIL-STD-810H Four-foot rating
Viewing angles 0-135 degrees
Touchpad size 110 x 60 mm
Materials Anti-microbial ABS plastic
Dimensions 222 x 295 x 27.7 mm
Weight 1088 grams (2.4 pounds)
brydge-sp-max-plus-4

The cover for the tablet portion snaps into the bottom

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

Tablet mode

The first part of the case that you connect to your Surface Pro 8 is the USB-C port built into the protective case that goes around the Surface Pro 8. The bottom USB-C port is connected to the case by inserting the right side of the Surface into the case very carefully so you do not break off the USB-C connection. I've seen others who have broken this USB-C connector so pay attention when you insert or remove your computer.

The rest of the ports and buttons are fully functional when your Surface is mounted inside the protective cover. The back of the Surface and the four sides are well protected with the display being the most susceptible part of the arrangement.

brydge-sp-max-plus-1

I'm not a big fan of the USB-C connection

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

It's nice to have a protective case around the Surface in tablet mode. The top portion snaps very securely into the bottom keyboard part of the accessory with a large durable hinge and very strong magnets that allow you to hold the entire assembly by the tablet portion without any separation.

Laptop mode

After setting the top cover and your Surface into the hinge area, your Surface looks like a rugged tablet. The black matte plastic keyboard has six spacious rows of keys with good travel and feedback. Multi-level backlighting is present with the keyboard powered by the Surface through the rear pins and USB-C port.

The large touchpad fully supports Microsoft's gestures for two, three, and four finger actions. Left and right clicks, or finger taps if you prefer, work perfectly on the touchpad.

All of the typical Microsoft keyboard shortcuts work so you get a full PC experience with the keyboard. The function row supports media controls, navigation controls, and display controls.

brydge-sp-max-plus-2

The large hinge and protective cover will keep it safe with short drops

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

At the top of the keyboard you'll find a tray to store your Surface Slim Pen 2, but there is no charging support in the tray. The keyboard combo is built with antimicrobial treatment to help protect you from bacteria and viruses. You can even clean the keyboard with isopropyl alcohol solution to keep your workspace clean.

Also: Microsoft Surface: How a shaky start led the re-invention of the PC

Bottom line

The Brydge keyboards for various iPads are awesome alternatives to Apple and other keyboard makers, but I'm not completely sold on the Brydge SP Max Plus for the Surface Pro 8. There are some aspects that are great for those looking for some drop protection for their computer or those that want a case combo for tablet and laptop modes.

I've taken a few business trips with this accessory and would love to see the following in the next version:

  • Integrated kickstand when used in tablet mode
  • Holder for Surface Slim Pen 2 when in tablet mode
  • Ability to charge the Surface Slim Pen 2
  • Modified USB-C connector or switch to Bluetooth

The price is reasonable for a keyboard and tablet cover and the advanced touchpad performed reliably with the Surface Pro 8. The keyboard shortcuts are also very useful and overall I enjoyed the experience. Microsoft sets the bar high with its Type Covers that have been perfected over the years and this Brydge keyboard still needs a bit of work to knock the Type Cover out of my bag.

Alternatives to consider

The Brydge SP Max Plus keyboard is designed to provide a protective case with keyboard functionality, but if you are looking primarily for a keyboard to use with your Surface Pro 8, then you may want to consider these alternatives. 

Editorial standards

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