The Brydge+ with speakers turns an ordinary iPad into something resembling a tiny Macbook Pro. It’s very solid, rather heavy, and generally very good.
iPad keyboards are nothing new. From the moment the first iPad model launched, there was a general desire for a keyboard to make typing easier than on a touch screen. As such, any keyboard wanting its place of honour on your iPad needs to really stand out.
The Brydge+ with speakers manages that by turning the iPad into — more or less — an Ultrabook. It’s built from aluminium, and rather specifically designed to mimic Apple’s general design principles, so when you’ve got an iPad slotted in, it rather looks like a tiny Macbook Pro.
iPad keyboards live and die on the quality of their actual keys, and here the Brydge+ performs admirably. There’s a lot of travel distance to the keys, which is something that I rather like. Far too many iPad keyboards are either soft and squishy, which is terrible if you’re a fast typist, or have little register at all, which is equally problematic. As with any smaller keyboard, there’s a slight learning curve to overcome, but on the Brydge+ this is quite minimal.
The model I’ve tested is the “with Speakers” variant — you can save yourself, at the time of writing, ten bucks by omitting them — and they’re a bit more mixed. Audio quality isn’t superb, and to save power, they don’t pair as part of the Bluetooth pairing process. That means you’ve got to switch them on, which is a keyboard combination. I’ve got to be honest — often I don’t bother.
The Brydge+ holds the iPad in place in two rubber-tipped holding shims. They’re very secure, which is nice, but the model I’m testing with is rather specific to the iPad 3/4, with optional shims for the iPad 2. If you’ve got an original iPad or iPad Air it won’t fit neatly. Brydge do have an iPad-Air compatible model on the way, for what that’s worth, and you can slot an Air into the existing Brydge — it just won’t hold the iPad in place at all.
The only other catch with the Brydge+ with speakers is one that’s terribly, terribly common across many keyboard cases for iPads. It’s heavy, and you will notice the difference in your iPad when you’re carrying it around all day. That’s an unfortunate reality if you’re going to build a solid keyboard case out of aluminium, though.
My general “gold standard” for iPad keyboards tends to be those made my Logitech, because they get the keyboard part so very, very right. Most come close, but not quite as good, but I’m happy to say that the $105 Brydge+ with Speakers equals Logitech’s quality, and is highly recommended.