Published on June 29th, 2014 | by Greg
Brydge+: A Top-Notch iPad Keyboard With Speakers
One of the only major flaws of Apple’s iPads are it’s lack of a real keyboard- a missing feature that gave Microsoft room to enter the market and bill their alternative Surface tablet as more “work-friendly” thanks to an excellent physical keyboard. It’s something that any road warrior (or even regular traveler) keenly wishes existed for the iOS world. We’ve even tried out a few cases with keyboards and other models, though have rarely been impressed enough to want to use it for true productivity with Microsoft Word, for example.
Now, we finally have a keyboard that we can wholeheartedly recommend: the Brydge+ iPad Keyboard with Speakers. They also offer a model without sound, as well as a plastic version that costs less, trading in the aluminum and coming in at a lower price point. Anything that’s going to sit, stand, and lie next to Apple’s industrial design needs to both look and feel the part, and the nicely machined body of the Brydge holds up well. In fact, Macbook users will look twice- it looks kind of like a Macbook Pro keyboard. The layout is a bit more cramped, to be sure, but we loved the small feet that raises it naturally at an easy viewing and writing angle. And there are discrete keys for special functions, rather than needing an awkward set of shared buttons. It was easy to use, with good pressure and spacing.
Your iPad sits in a nook, with some securing clips and hinges to hold it in place- it’s a little bit awkward-looking at first, but doesn’t block the screen and works surprisingly well. They are stiff enough to hold steady even while you adjust to any viewing angle (most keyboards have a couple of fixed options). As with others, it connects via Bluetooth, which means you’ll need to remember to charge a separate set of batteries. Thankfully, they’ll last you quite a while- maybe even months of use depending on how much you use the speakers primarily. The Brydge+ weighs more than a few competitors, but is very close (about 19 ounces) to most folio-style keyboards in fact. And the speaker is better than the built-in ones, for sure, though bass response is still only so-so and we did notice distortion at mid- to high-volumes. However, in one respect it was a big jump- the iPad tends to be quiet during movie playback, and the Brydge+ adding plenty of volume output.
As a keyboard, the Brydge+ won solid praise from reviewers, and the speaker is just icing on the cake. If you don’t need the speaker, then there’s no contest- we wholeheartedly recommend the basic Brydge. For those that do, and don’t mind the extra weight, the Brydge+ is well worth the price, and had made the iPad a better tool for both entertainment and work on the go. Available now, online and in stores, for $160.