Hands-on: The Brydge Keyboard for the iPad Pro 12.8 inch 2018 is the Real Deal



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I never understand how Apple can create such fantastic tablets and keyboards as terrible.

Ok, maybe "terrible" is an exaggeration, but the latest Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad 12.9 inches is – like the first – a great typing experience, and a rather cheap piece of plastic …

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This is particularly inexplicable for me when Brydge has long shown how to do things right. Anodized aluminum, no plastic, and a typing experience that mirrors that of previous MacBook keyboards.

Insert your iPad into a computer, and it really looks like a MacBook. Indeed, several times, people in airplanes and coffee shops ask me what MacBook it is, and they were surprised to learn that it is a Bluetooth keyboard plus an iPad .

I've been a fan since I first used it with my iPad Air 2, and I always thought it was the keyboard that Apple should have made.

I tried the original iPad model of 12.9 inches and then I said it would have been my choice if I had not sent this iPad back, deciding that he was too bulky. So when the company launched a new design of the latest iPad Pro models, I was eager to acquire one.

I had the chance to do it when the company lent me a prototype for a week.

Brydge iPad Pro Keys

Watch and feel

If you know the previous Brydge keyboards, there are few surprises. With three changes I'm going to get, it's really the Brydge experience that you know and love. A solid piece of anodized aluminum in a choice of silver gray and gray space, backlit black keys with white text and, overall, a very MacBook look.

I used to say that Brydge keyboards looked like those of MacBook. This is no longer the case – not because Brydge has changed his style, but of course Apple. The Brydge feel is now a lot softer than my 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

I am quite adaptable when it comes to keyboards. I used to be a big fan of mechanical keyboards, with the favorite switches of the Cherry MX Blue. Nowadays, I often switch between MacBook Pro, Apple Magic Keyboard and Brydge Keyboard, and I'm happy of all.

However, I must say that, aside from the reliability issues, the very short throttle keyboard feel has grown in me. So, in an absolutely ideal world, I would turn to Brydge to reflect that. However, I recognize that the views of the butterfly keyboard are very Brydge is therefore probably wise to stick to his proven feeling.

Specifications

The keyboard of course corresponds to the dimensions of the iPad. For 11 and 12.9-inch models, the keyboard has a thickness slightly greater than a quarter of an inch. The smallest model weighs 1.14 lbs, the largest 1.51 lbs. So, it's quite expensive, but it's the price of aluminum rather than plastic.

The life of the battery is specified in full year for two hours per day.

Brydge Keyboard Back Cover

Changes of 2019

Brydge's biggest challenge this year has been to drastically reduce the number of glasses on the latest iPad. This means that its previous design of the keyboard iPad connection was no longer feasible. So she had to opt for much lower corner handles. More on these in a moment.

One of the additional benefits of the new handles is that you can, if you wish, invert the iPad using it as a stand, or even use it in tablet mode with the keyboard attached behind it. I would not recommend this last option because it allows a lot heavier device, but the options are still good.

Second, the microUSB charging port has been replaced with a USB-C port. This is a welcome change because it can now be loaded from a MacBook charger, and since most current gadgets use this port, we are getting closer to the point where a charging plug is doing everything.

You can also choose to connect the keyboard to the iPad with a USB-C cable, for wired connectivity rather than Bluetooth. This also charges the keyboard, which is convenient given the extremely long life of the battery, so I tend to forget to load mine.

Third, one of the disadvantages of previous Brydge keyboards compared to Apple's is the lack of protection for the back of the iPad. This is something the company has tackled by including a magnetic back cover. Again, more on this subject shortly.

Brydge Keyboard Prototype Problems

Prototype issues

Brydge has warned that the prototype that he sent me was not the final design. The company has identified two problems it is working on to correct the production model.

First, the much smaller claws that hold the corners of the iPad are too tight. This made an effort to tie the iPad. Secondly, the hinges are too weak, which means that the iPad is likely to fall backwards once you lean it beyond a certain point.

This last problem is understandable: with the new design, the hinges must be smaller and you ask two tiny claws to support a reasonable weight (in relative terms).

Both problems meant that my tests were limited. I did not like to insert and remove my iPad several times while its fit was so tight, and I did not want to risk falling back. My practice test was to use it for about an hour, then use the Apple case to keep the iPad in place and use the keyboard located right in front of it. In this format, I used it for about six hours.

I also found that the magnetic back cover was not very practical, but I feel that it was because I did not want to push my iPad too far in these too narrow legs.

I'm sure Brydge will solve these problems, but if you want to be safe, you might want to wait until I've done a follow-up work with the production model instead of pre-ordering now.

Close-up keyboard

Price, availability and conclusions

Brydge keyboards are not cheap. I've always described them as Apple keyboards, which have a price comparable to that of Apple.

  • 11 inches: $ 149.99
  • 12.9 inches: $ 169.99

However, as expensive as it may be, it remains cheaper than the official Apple keyboard, at $ 179 and $ 199 respectively. And in my opinion, the difference in quality lies in the day and the night. So you have a better keyboard for a slightly lower price.

You can pre-order today for a mid-spring delivery (May is the best estimate of the company). Or if you want to be sure that the prototype issues are correctly resolved, I will try the production model as soon as it is available.

Check out the promo video below.


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