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BrydgeMini for iPad mini hands on: Great portable writing system

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  • Editors' rating
    9.0 Outstanding
  • $129.99

Pros

  • Premium design and construction
  • Keyboard layout
  • Backlighting

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bottom controls on iPad screen are covered

When I first heard that Brydge was introducing a keyboard for the iPad mini I knew I had to get my hands on one. The company's BrydgeAir keyboard for the iPad Air and Air 2 is my favorite option for the bigger iPad and the smaller model is already my favorite for the iPad mini.

The BrydgeMini is constructed out of a single piece of aluminum that attaches to the iPad mini with two sturdy hinges. They are constructed to securely hold the tablet while leaving it easy to detach and use the iPad mini without the keyboard.

The keyboard will fit all iPad mini models except the newest, the iPad mini 4. A set of shims are included and adjust the keyboard hinges to fit the different iPad mini models. The preinstalled shims fit my iPad mini 3 perfectly and I didn't need to use the extra shims.

See related: BrydgeAir turns the iPad Air 2 into a MacBook clone (hands on) | 5 best iPad mini keyboards

The hinges allow pushing the tablet back almost 180 degrees for maximum utility when in laptop mode. They tilt the tablet to an ergonomic angle when open for typing. Closing the "lid" forms a closed laptop for transport, and due to the small size of the BrydgeMini, which is precisely sized to the small iPad, it will fit in even the smallest gear bag.

The Bluetooth keyboard pairs easily with the iPad mini by pressing a button on the front of the unit to the right of the power slider. It charges via the included microUSB cable and lasts three months on a charge.

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Having used several keyboards designed for the iPad mini, I've determined a unit must meet three criteria to make rapid typing practical:

  1. Normal size keys -- under-sized keys do not facilitate rapid typing.
  2. Keys spread out -- Given the narrow width of the iPad mini, keyboards must spread the keys out to the very edge to maximize the layout.
  3. Intelligent remapping of keys -- the small size of the keyboard makes it necessary to either move keys or combine them in some way.

The BrydgeMini keyboard meets all of the requirements. Using a combination of resized keys that go to the very edges of the unit, all keys are where you expect them to be. It handles rapid typing even for those of us with large hands. To make this work several lesser-used keys, including ],\,=,+, have been combined on two different keys. Each character is accessed in combination with a different control key. This sounds impractical but with a little practice becomes natural. This is due in large part to Brydge's positioning these two keys where they fall on full keyboards.

Using the BrydgeMini quickly became second nature to me, especially given my history using mobile keyboards. It's not as fluid as using a bigger keyboard with the iPad Air 2 as I do most days, but it is a reasonable alternative. The biggest adjustment I had to make was the under-sized Shift keys. It's not a deal breaker for me but may be a hurdle for some.

There is a Caps Lock key with LED indicator, and three levels of backlighting. It's surprising that Brydge was able to squeeze these features into the tiny device. There is also a row of iPad control keys above the number keys.

Note that the iPad mini fits so low in the keyboard that it is difficult to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to access common iOS settings.

Like the larger BrydgeAir, the BrydgeMini comes in three colors to match available colors of the iPad mini. The gold unit matches my gold iPad mini 3 perfectly, and looks as if it was produced by Apple. Given the small size of the device there are no Bluetooth speakers as found on the BrydgeAir.

The BrydgeMini is available now for the iPad mini 1, 2, and 3 from the company for $129.99. This is expensive but given the premium design and construction the price is not unreasonable.

Specifications

Input Device
Connectivity Technology wireless
Product Type keyboard
Interface Bluetooth 3.0
Backlit Yes
Depth 5.3 in
Height 0.3 in
Width 7.9 in
Weight 10.93 oz
Miscellaneous
Color gold
Color Category gold
Included Accessories charging cable
Battery
Rechargeable Battery rechargeable
System Requirements
OS Required Apple iOS
Header
Brand Brydge
Product Line BrydgeMini
Packaged Quantity 1
Compatibility Apple iOS
Dimensions & Weight
Width 7.9 in
Depth 5.3 in
Height 0.3 in
Weight 10.93 oz
Service & Support
Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
Type limited warranty
Full Contract Period 1 year
Software & System Requirements
OS Required Apple iOS

Where To Buy

Price
$129.99

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Where To Buy

Brydge BrydgeMini

Part Number: BRY5003
Price
$129.99