Brydge Pro+ iPad Keyboard review: Bridging the gap
- Nice design
- Sturdy hinge
- Good key travel
- Makes the iPad a worse tablet
- Has to be charged
- Software quirks
If you’re looking to turn your tablet into a workhorse and don’t mind losing a few thrills in the process, the Brydge Pro+ is easy to recommend.
Should you buy the Brydge Pro+ iPad keyboard?
Apple’s latest series of iPad’s represents the grandest bet yet to sell their flagship tablet as more than just a premium machine made for content consumption but a powerful tool geared towards production and creation as well.
There’s one problem here, and it’s not an unexpected one.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard - the accessory that adds much of what’s needed to bring this notion of a tablet so powerful it can replace your laptop into reality - is hideously and prohibitively expensive. It’s one thing to spend $200 on a keyboard but the asking price of Apple’s latest must-have accessory is a steep AU$469.
This is where Brydge’s new Pro+ keyboard steps into the picture.
Ports: USB Type-C
Battery life: 3-months
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.7 mm
Price when reviewed
In Australia, the Brydge Pro+ iPad keyboard is priced at AU$399. You can grab it through the Brydge website here.
Design and Performance
If you’re at all familiar with the brand, the Brydge Pro+ isn’t going to feel like a radical departure from what they’ve done before. Essentially, the Pro+ is a reprise of the previous Brydge Pro keyboard with a trackpad tucked below the space bar. You get the same Apple-inspired aluminium body, the same smartly backlit keys and the same 3-month battery life.
As with the Brydge Pro, setting up the Brydge Pro+ is as easy as taking it out of the box and sliding your iPad into the rubberised hinge. Once in place, Brydge’s latest can be pivoted to the viewing angle of your choice up to 180 degrees. Technically, this means the Pro+ is more flexible than Apple’s Magic Keyboard. Practically, the two are more-or-less equals. The hinge itself is usually sturdy but things become a little less locked in place once you go for angles larger than 110 or so degrees.
Unlike something like Apple’s own Smart Keyboard, you can’t wrap the screen around itself fully. You’re committing to turning your tablet into a clamshell and that’s that. This is both the best and worst thing about this product.
On one hand, the addition of a trackpad and a fully-realised keyboard serve to make the iPad that much more satisfying to use in ways that go beyond playing a few rounds of Gwent or watching YouTube videos.
Where I’ve in the past felt like the mushy qualities of Apple’s own keyboard or the foibles of a digital keyboard have placed soft limits on how powerful the iPad can be as a productivity machine, the addition of a real - and real-feeling - keyboard here saw those shackles shattered.
There is a catch here with the regards to the former. The trackpad here might look identical to Apple’s own take but it doesn’t feature the same level of software support. For example, the Pro+ doesn’t support three-finger gestures. There are a few gesture-based shortcuts to learn and use but, one the whole, it doesn’t come across as quite so cohesive and integrated into the experience as the magic keyboard does.
Brydge say that this issue will be addressed in the future but there’s no timeline on that as of yet.
The one other drawback worth touching on here is that, since the Brydge Pro+ is a hefty piece of kit, it adds significantly to the weight of the iPad Pro. Essentially, you’re doubling the burden here - though it does provide comprehensive protection for the tablet’s screen in the meanwhile.
This, and the fact that you can’t fold the keyboard the full 360-degrees, means that you’re kinda forced to use your iPad as if it was a laptop. Things like reading ebooks or using apps that are locked to a vertical orientation become a lot trickier as a result. You’re probably going to have to remove the Pro+ or awkwardly hold your device to actually do those things - which does hurt the appeal somewhat.
The other limitation here is battery life. Brydge say the keyboard is good for three months of usage per charge. We’ve yet to have it run dry but don’t necessarily doubt their claims here. The catch is that the Pro+ doesn’t support pass through charging in the way that the Magic Keyboard does.
The Bottom Line
In some ways, Apple’s own pricing strategy does a way better job of selling this thing than Brydge does. That’s not to say the Pro+ is bad or half-baked but it commits to some choices that serve to make the iPad Pro better at some things but much worse at others.
Simply put, the Brydge Pro+ keyboard makes the iPad a way better PC but a worse tablet. It lacks some of the extra features and flair of Apple’s own Magic Keyboard but it’s more than good enough where it counts and cheaper as well.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard goes the extra mile but, if you’re looking to turn your tablet into a workhorse and don’t mind losing a few thrills in the process, the Brydge Pro+ is easy to recommend.
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