So just last week I upgraded my 12.9 inch (2nd generation) iPad Pro to the new 2018 model (3rd Gen) and to say I'm happy with it is an understatement. The new form factor is a game changer in my mind making the 12.9 inch much more portable and just nicer in general to use.
But with new form factors comes all new accessories right? Which is where I came to acquire the Brydge keyboard.
It was only a few days of owning the iPad when I discovered there was no way I could live without a keyboard. On my previous iPad I used Apple's Smart Keyboard, which i was never a fan of, but persisted with it for the 3 years that I owned the iPad.
I found it flimsy, easy to fall off and not sturdy enough to have on your lap. One thing I didn't mind was the keyboard (which I know lots of people have mixed reviews about). For myself I actually didn't mind the typing experience on it.
So, for a few days I used my new naked ipad with my Logitech solar keyboard that can switch between 3 Bluetooth devices. It took my only a day to release that was not a viable option long term. Switching between my MacBook and iPad keyboards was just tedious.
Now, I'm not saying that to use the ipad you NEED a keyboard. But for the work I am in, it definitely enhances my use of the iPad. I use the iPad pencil extensively everyday for taking notes, sketching new ideas and general creative work. But another big part of my workflow is communication, writing and general office-y stuff - which is where a keyboard just makes things so much nicer.
So, I thought i would reach for the familiarity of the new Apple Smart Keyboard Folio… until I saw the price. At $300 I just wasn't willing to pay for something that I have hated for 3 years. And in my opinion, $300 is just too much for a portable keyboard on a device that I just paid $2000 for!
So, I looked at the alternatives which I consider are just two. The Logitech Smart Folio and the Brydge keyboard. The Logitech was a no go for me - the bulkiness is a total black mark for me. I love the look and fee of my iPad and don't want it to be compromised by big bulky covers.
So, I turned to the Brydge, which actually has been on my Wishlist since I got my first ipad way back when and I just had never ended up purchasing one. I ended up buying it on sale from the Brydge website for $180. I'm assuming it was on sale because the new Brydge Pro is coming out. But I don't need a track pad for my iPad which has a TOUCHSCREEN - I may as well go back to a MacBook, right?
I HAD ONE MAIN CONCERN - PORTABILITY As much as i was in love with the look of it, I was fairly concerned about portability. How much weight and bulk would it ad? And when I received the box my concerns grew. Not only does it comes packaged in a pretty large and heavy box, but the postage packaging was WAY bigger than it needed to be.
But once I took it out and held it in my hand I knew I had nothing to worry about. Now, I'm not a technical reviewer so you're not going to get mm measurements and weighted comparisons - but you are going to get my real life thoughts and feelings on this thing!
The keyboard ads a little bit of weight to the naked iPad but not so much that you still can't carry this thing round easily all day. I happened to be teaching a workshop yesterday and carried it for most of the day and it still felt really nice and compact and easy to carry around.
It does add about double the thickness of the naked iPad (so like two iPad on top of each other), which really hasn't worried me so far. It's still easy enough to slot into my bag, and most of the time it's either on my desk or a table when I'm working - so the thickness is really ok.
I even used it at the back of the workshop room on my laptop and I can say it was an absolute pleasure. Compared to my old ipad with the Smart Keyboard which I could never do that with (the flimsiness!). This was SUPER easy and sturdy to just have on my lap and tap tap away on the keys. As well as it gives you a nice little shelf to hold (because it doesn't have a trackpad) and use the touchscreen.
I suppose it depends what you are going to use the iPad for. If you're standing up A lot using the Apple Pencil mostly then it may not be the best weight and bulk for you.
USING THE KEYBOARD ITSELF I've read and watched a lot of reviews about this keyboard and people have so many opinions about the feel of keyboards? I've heard things like the keys are mushy, they travel too much, they don't feel right.
I found it to be just a keyboard? I don't have thoughts like that when it comes to keyboards - a keyboard is a keyboard. Now, yes there is a bit of travel in these keys, but I'm coming from an older MacBook so I'm already used to that.
But, when it comes to keyboards after a few minutes use you will just get used to it and it will become your new normal. They key feel was never going to be a dealbreaker for me - so I don't have too much of an opinion on this.
UNLIMITED VIEWING ANGLES - YES PLEASE! I mean being able to adjust the ipad to any viewing angle is another game changer in my eyes. Whether you're avoiding glare, Using it on your lap or desk or you simply like a certain angle - you're going to love it.
Compared this to my old Apple Smart Keyboard which I always felt caught the glare of fluro lights in the office - I'm in Heaven. Trying to present something to people on my old ipad - I always felt people were craning their necks to avoid the glare - whereas now I can just adjust the screen.
Now, one thing I would LOVE to see come to this keyboard is the ability for the hinge to just go all the way around so you can use it simply in tablet mode. But I can see why they haven't done that - considering you would be holding it on the keyboard underside if you did this.
TABLET MODE Yes, let's talk about tablet mode for a second. Now you can very easily turn this thing around on it's hinges and have it in media viewing mode or tablet mode. To be honest I don't think I will ever use it for media viewing mode. I'm already used to watching media on my MacBook with a keyboard in front - so I think I'll just continue to use it in keyboard mode for media mode (if that makes sense).
The jury is still out if I'll use it in tablet mode. I think I just prefer to lift it out of the hinges and use the naked ipad if I'm going to use tablet mode - it definitely makes it lighter and easier to use that way. But I might have another opinion after using it for more than a day!
ONE THING THAT IS TROUBLING ME The only thing that is bugging me that I've noticed a couple fo times is the Apple Pencil is not as sturdy on the magnet with the keyboard attached. Not that the magnet is less magnet-ey, but I think the extra thickness throws it off balance, so I find holding it closed with the Apple Pencil attached - it falls off in my hands sometimes. When open and using the iPad it still sits nicely on top. So, it's not a dealbreaker but it is bugging me a bit.
ARE WE JUST TRYING TO TURN THE IPAD INTO A MACBOOK THOUGH? So, the question is - are we just all trying to turn the iPad into a MacBook and why not just buy a MacBook?
The answer is MAYBE. With a few key differences.
Touchscreen and Apple Pencil support really separates a MacBook user from an iPad user and I LOVE using my Apply Pencil on the iPad. I find it makes me more creative, but also so many more use cases for using the iPad - whereas I see my MacBook as predominantly a business devices which I consume some content on.
IPadOS also separates the two. I have to admit i was falling out of love with my iPad until iPadOS came out (and I'll write a about that in another blog). But it honestly makes the iPad a much more viable option to use full time, especially with external drive support and a full desktop class browser - it makes me less anxious to go without my MacBook because I know I can do a majority of work on the iPad now.
And I've heard a lot of people say this… but it's just seems more fun to work on the iPad. Maybe it's the fact that I can pick up the pencil at anytime and doodle, maybe it's the fact that people do a double take when they see me using it (which actually just happened as I was writing this in my local cafe).
Whatever its is, I'm all in now I have the Brydge Keyboard. And I'll be documenting more of my #ipadonly use over the coming weeks and months.
SO SHOULD YOU BUY ONE? Ok, so back to the Brydge. Should you buy one? If you're already thinking of buying a keyboard for your iPad then it's certainly in the top 3 contenders. If you love the look and feel of a MacBook - you will love it. If you want something sturdy that can sit on your lap but also on a desk - then you'll love it.
I hope this review was helpful for you - if not technical, at least a simple girls thoughts on a pretty spectacular keyboard.