One of the oddest things about writing on a solid, alumnium keyboard attached to the latest generation iPad Pro is that you immediately start expecting more from iOS, and not the keyboard. The trouble is that with such a superior keyboard experience, suddenly the myriad of minute iOS limitations, like the fact that most apps think you’re on a mobile viewport, the lack of Chrome extensions or even the ability to use a mouse, come to the fore. But luckily those are things that power-users need, and hopefully the pro-sumer can get by without them, or has another device that fits the bill.
I was lucky to win access to an early shipped version of the keyboard, which went on pre-order in January. I was eagerly waiting for this because it would serve both as a cover to my iPad Pro and a solid writing companion to the already-powerful device.
It’s built from a brushed aluminum uni-body frame with a hinge that carries two rubber L-shaped holders for the iPad, which were designed to match the size of the bezels on the device. The hinge does extend all the way flat, though the added lip means the whole assembly does not lie entirely flat, nor does it rotate beyond. This means making the iPad a purely tablet experience means taking the iPad out of the holder and refitting it upside down, which is just a minor inconvenience.
It makes me wish my Macbook Pro had a keyboard like this. It’s super quiet and has just the right keys at the top, including a home button, lock and brightness. The home key is particularly desirable because the lack of the home button on the device itself, and swiping up from the edge of the keyboard to the middle of the iPad can quickly get annoying. There’s a certain magic that comes with pressing the home button on the keyboard, FaceID kicking in, and the whole thing unlocking.
The keyboard also comes with 4 backlit brightness options, which makes for in-flight writing especially nice.
I will say, I’m one of those people who like wide and comfortable keyboard layouts; having said that, I have the 11-inch iPad Pro, which means this keyboard is fairly remarkably able to fit a full-sized keyboard layout while matching the device size. I imagine I would be a little more at ease with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and corresponding keyboard, but it is what it is.
There’s a nice magnetized thin black cover that comes with the unit, so that you can make sure the iPad’s back stays covered. So the overall heft of the keyboard and iPad setup is not significant if you consider that in any other situation one might desire a cover for the iPad itself.
The USB-C charging on the side is a welcome change from most other manufacturers, since it means carrying one less charging cable. As you can see, the keyboard is about the thickness of the iPad, which means collapsing the two together makes for about double the height of the iPad alone.
Lastly, a small indententation in the keyboard makes opening it very easy.
Overall, the Brydge keyboard has definitely been worth the wait, and this has and will continue to be a reliable meeting-notes and travel-work device, with all the added extras that already come with the iPad, such as superior sound, Apple Pencil support, and perfect size and weight.
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