BrydgeAir iPad Bluetooth Keyboard Review:
A remarkable typing experience for the iPad Air 2.
Having an early history with a Kickstarter campaign, Brydge really began production on its remarkable products in April 2014 – only one year ago. Their one mission – to design stunning keyboard that serve as a bridge between you and the tablet. One of the things that I truly love about this product and the company behind it is that they have a simple philosophy of creating the right accessory for the product. Their About page sums it up like this, “You wouldn’t put cheap wheels on a Ferrari – why would you clasp a plastic keyboard to the iPad, when you can bond it to a single piece of beautifully honed, solid aluminum?” And, that’s just what they did. They created a beautiful accompanying piece to the iPad Air 2 that echoes its style and functionality perfectly.Not too long ago, I acquired an Apple iPad Air 2. It’s a remarkable piece of technology, but sadly it meant that I had to say goodbye to my old accessories for the my iPad 2. The iPad Air 2 being so much thinner meant that I would have to find a new keyboard case to accompany it on all its iPad adventures. I use a keyboard so much throughout the day and I love the flexibility of carrying just the iPad around that a keyboard/case combo has become a must-have for me and my workflow. I did a lot of research and came across a company called Brydge that specializes in creating keyboard cases for the iPad.
The BrydgeAir is crafted from a single piece of high grade aluminum for added strength and a premium feel. The keyboard is so much more than a standard keyboard. First of all, it includes a set of dual-stereo speakers, which is not something I’ve had with previous keyboards. Many of them have some sort of directional panel that allows you to hear sound from the existing iPad speakers, but they don’t have built-in speakers in the keyboard. That’s a big difference. In addition to the speakers, the developers also included backlit speakers so that it fits in with the Apple ecosystem that much farther. It has a 180º hinge that allows for infinite viewing angles that compliments a laptop’s viewing experience. BrydgeAir really made it possible for the iPad Air 2 to act like a laptop – without the laptop.
I’ve had the keyboard for a few weeks now and am happy to say that I haven’t had to charge it once. The specs state that you should have 3 months of use before a charge depending on use. I use it on a daily basis and think that as long as you remember to turn it off when it’s not in use, you can preserve its battery life for a long, long time. It really depends on the speaker use and backlit keys as to how long the keyboard battery life lasts. But, if you are conservative about this, you should be able to meet that 3-month mark.
Now that I’ve taken you through the main points/features of the BrydgeAir, I can talk about my thoughts on it.
The first thought I had when I took the keyboard out of the box was, “It matches.” I have a gold iPad Air 2 and was instantly taken by how well the keyboard matches the gold tone from Apple. It’s flawless. Included with our testing unit – but sold separately – was the Protective Shell and the BrydgeAir Leather Sleeve. The BrydgeAir Leather Sleeve is perfect for carrying around the entire package. It’s made from high quality leather and has a side pouch for small items you want to keep with you such as business cards or even a charging cable.
The iPad Air 2 Protective Shell is made from polycarbonate and allows for the BrydgeAir’s hinges. When I was first researching the BrydgeAir I remembered thinking, “Why would you need a Protective Shell for the iPad?” Then, I realized that the configuration of the set is that the iPad slides down into the hinges so that you can use it easily with the keyboard or autonomously.
This sort of blew my mind because every other case I’ve used has made it very difficult to take the iPad in and out of the case. I suppose this is because the developer of those products want you to exclusively use their case. I feel that the makers of the BrydgeAir want you to get the most out of your iPad – with or without the keyboard. The protective shell is a wonderful addition because it makes me feel more comfortable carrying my iPad around my office without having to have a full case surrounding it. This protective shell is clear and really accentuates the design of the iPad Air 2 – and doesn’t hide it.
So, back to the keyboard itself…the performance of it has been exceptional. I’ve never once lost a Bluetooth connection with and have found the keys to be very responsive. They have a soft feel similar to that of a MacBook Pro. I love that it had keys built for operations on the iPad like Siri/Dictation, Home Screen, Play/Pause control, volume control, and locking the screen.
Something else that I immediately noticed was the keyboard’s weight. It felt almost heavier than the iPad. And it is. As it turns out the the keyboard is 533g, while the iPad Air 2 (without cellular) weighs 437g. So, the keyboard more than doubles the weight of the iPad Air 2. Even though this might be a ‘turn off’ to some, I would encourage you to look past the weight and see the functionality that is provided. This is probably the best keyboard partner to an iPad I’ve seen in the market and believe me, I’ve looked.
Aside from the weight, I really only had one other small hiccup. Every once in a while, a key would enter more than one character. For example, ‘e’ would turn into ‘eee’, even though I only pushed it once. This has happened with other keyboards I’ve used though and is not an exclusive glitch to the BrydgeAir.
I highly recommend this remarkable product to anyone who is searching for a keyboard to match their iPad Air 2. It doesn’t get much closer to perfection than this.
BrydgeAir comes in gold, silver and space gray to match the colors of the iPad Air 2. The BrydgeAir – Gold retails for $189. The protective cover retails for $39 and the leather sleeve is $59.
For more information, visit brydgekeyboards.com.