The Brydge iPad keyboard and case started off life as a Kickstarter campaign. Raising almost $800K on a target of just $90K it was a spectacular success. A couple of years have passed and the company is now under new ownership, with new retail distribution and pricing.
The Brydge range is currently compatible with the iPad 2, 3rd and 4th generations, with an iPad Air version ‘BrydgeAir’ due later this year. Different models require you to change little shims in the hinge to account for the different thicknesses. Once installed there’s a tight grip that allowed us to swing the iPad by the keyboard without it letting go.
With the keyboard attached your iPad really takes on an amazing likeness to a little MacBook. Its almost the NetBook that Apple never made. In fact it had our little brain so confused that our muscle memory constantly sent our fingers in search of the non-existent touchpad for the first few days of use. The keyboard is the best typing feel we’ve experienced with an iPad case and the row of hotkeys along the top provides shortcuts to things like Home, Search, Brightness and Volume.
The hinge design also sets the Brydge apart. Like a laptop, and unlike most other iPad keyboard cases, the hinges are tensioned and allow the iPad to stay fixed at any angle you set it at, up to almost 180 degrees of movement.
The right and side of the unit has the power button and micro USB socket for charging. The battery can last for months at a time in keyboard only mode. The Plus model reviewed here has the addition of built in stereo speakers. You pair the Bluetooth keyboard by hitting “Ctrl” and “K” to make it discoverable. The speakers are paired separately by “Ctrl” and “B” .
The slightly ugly hinge design shown in the video below has changed (check out the photo at the top of the page for how it actually looks) and is now much nicer. The keyboard includes the requisite magnets so that it works like the Apple Smart Covers, sleeping and wakening your iPad when closed or opened.
Like all keyboard cases of this form factor it leaves the back of the iPad exposed. This isn’t a big issue for us, as long as the glass side is protected. It’s worth mentioning that unlike a lot of other keyboards this one will not allow you to use your iPad in portrait mode, landscape only here.
Surprisingly for a premium $100 offering like this there’s only a 6 month warranty, we’d have expected 12 months and we hear this will be coming with the new range launching later this year. Brydge are keen to reiterate that they are under new owner ship and are much more customer focused. They told us…
[quote]Since taking over Brydge, we’ve come to understand the full impact that the poor approach to customer service has had on the business. The Brydge is an amazing product, however without the right customer experience that it deserves, it will never be a success. We are facing these issues front on and have take a customer first approach to everything that we do. This starts with addressing the issues customers have received and listening to what our customers want in a new product – all of which you will see in our revised range as its launched over the next 12 months.[/quote]
For now though there’s no doubt that the Brydge+ is a top quality product. If you’re the sort of person that relies totally on your iPad for everything, love the size and battery life but are looking for more of a mini-laptop experience then the Brydge iPad Keyboard could be just what you’re after.