My latest gadget accessory has caused a lot of interest. It’s only a keyboard for my iPad, but I’ve even heard “wow” and I’ve been asked so many times where I got it.
Brydge Keyboards, originally a Kickstarter project but now under new ownership (who have ironed out some of the new product issues), have designed a bluetooth keyboard that turns your iPad (full size version) into a laptop.
Isn’t it a lovely thing? It really looks the part. It turns my iPad into a very Macbook-looking laptop with full sized keyboard. I think this is what the afore mentioned “wow” was aimed at – it is very easy to mistake this for an official Apple product. It just looks stunning – the brushed aluminium, the smooth finish, the curved edges. It’s the perfect size and the perfect shape, and feels nice to hold and use.
My iPad 2 fits into the two shims just perfectly and the whole thing is very sturdy. It is also compatible with newer iPads – I had to swap over the shims (included), in order to use it with my old model. This is somewhat fiddly as they are actually stuck on so you have to use your nails to remove all the residue before placing the new shims – I left it to LincsGeek and he seemed to manage fine! You can have the screen at whatever angle you choose (you’re not limited by ridges or notches in the design), and it’s rigid enough to use the touch screen without having to hold the back of it to keep it from falling over. These two things are important because they are where many other iPad-keyboard-cases fail; they rely on their choice of angles being exactly what you need, and force you to take hold of your iPad in order to use the tablet part of it. Brydge+ allows you to use the keyboard and the screen without holding the iPad at all, and you can position the screen wherever is best for you at that moment. When you’re done you can shut your iPad over the keyboard in the same way that you would close a laptop and it all meets up perfectly (with a magnet to sleep the screen), allowing you to store it in a standard slip case.
Probably most importantly, the Brydge+ is really nice to type on. It took a little getting used to, which is no surprise as I am used to a standard Windows keyboard at work and a combination of the same at home and my Apple wireless keyboard – my muscle memory got the better of me and I kept pressing the wrong keys to start with. Like anything I soon got used to it and I have been very happy typing away ever since. Having a proper keyboard is an absolute must if you do a lot of typing, and it’s the one difficulty any writer finds with a tablet over a netbook or laptop. This gives you both.
It is not quite perfect, sadly. On the keyboard you’ll find the £ sign at shift/3 (where # is marked), and # is actually alt/3. I have to think about this every time! Also, the shift key on the right hand side is really teeny and where I would normally expect the other half of the enter/return key to be, which has caused me a bit of frustration as I repeatedly hit the wrong key.
The speaker is also disappointing. I am less than impressed with that element and if I was buying a Brydge+ I’d get one without the added feature (although you don’t actually save much money). It has an okay enough sound, it’s just that it is no better than the built in iPad speakers in my opinion, and goes no louder, so I don’t see it as an added benefit. The only plus side I can see is that the speaker on the keyboard is at the front as opposed to the iPad speaker at the back, so you do get a better direction of sound. I’ve not used the speaker since the initial test; as it doesn’t switch on automatically when you connect the keyboard (for very sensible battery saving reasons), I haven’t bothered with it.
The other slight downside to the Brydge+ over other keyboards on the market is that this only works with the iPad in landscape orientation. This is a bit annoying when I’m using iPhone only apps on my iPad – like instagram or ByPost – I have to pick the whole thing up and turn it on its side. I should just take the iPad out of the keyboard shims, but you know that would be too easy.
Even with all those niggles I still love this and how the designers have turned my iPad into a fantastic looking netbook without taking away what I love about my tablet. What a great idea.
At the moment it’s on sale for just under £60 (which is the same price as the Apple Wireless Keyboard), and I would say this is absolutely worth the price for what you are getting. Assuming it stands the test of time (I know owners of the original Kickstarter version of the Brydge found quality control issues with the connections under the keys, which the new owners have promised have been sorted out now), then if you want to use your iPad for a lot of writing, then this is a must have accessory. Nice.
Thank you to Brydge Keyboards for sending me their Brydge+ with Speakers. I love it!