To me, a sign of a good review is how much reading / watching it makes me want to go and try out the product that’s being reviewed. Prolific YouTuber Christopher Lawley’s recent Brydge Keyboard review was not only fantastically presented, as always, it also really made me want to use the Brydge Keyboard.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, stop what you’re doing and watch it below:
Normally, there would be nothing unusual about a review making me want to try a new product. What struck me about this review, however, was that it didn’t make me want to try a new product. It made me want to try a product that I already owned, and actually really disliked, which is a first, and a testament to how well Chris reviewed the device.
Why I don’t like the Brydge keyboard
One of the major deciding factors for me choosing to use an iPad as my main home computing device1 was the flexibility the form factor afforded me. I work a normal full time day job, and much of my spare time is spent with my wife, young daughter and Toy Poodle. I have very little time to fully dedicate to blogging or podcasting and the like, but when I do get the time, I need to be as flexible on where I do these things as possible. The iPad Pro, paired with the fantastic Apple Smart Folio Keyboard, allows for the most flexible computing exerience I could hope for.
I was excited to get my hands on the Brydge keyboard, and quickly ordered one as soon as it became available. After slotting my iPad Pro into the case I was in awe of just how fantastic it made my beloved iPad look. This admiration, however, was pretty short lived. Whilst sat at a desk, the Brydge keyboard looked perfect. When I needed to move away from the desk, however, things got a little less idyllic. The Brydge keyboard is heavy. There’s no getting around it. Strapping that beast of a keyboard to a 12.9” iPad Pro instantly doubles its weight and, in doing so, reduces it’s flexibility and ease of use by the same proportion. When desktop / laptop fans see the Brydge keyboard in use you’ll often get the tired comment ‘Why don’t you just get a MacBook?’ While the answer to that particular question would be best answered another day, in another post, I did get the feeling that I was just using a heavy, cumbersome laptop, which is most certainly not something I would want, or expect, when using my svelte and portable iPad.
Chris touched on the squisy feeling of the keys and I definitely experienced this. They can also, at times, be fairly unresponsive, especially when compared to the excellent keys and travel of the Smart Folio. I’ve never been that fused about my keyboards, though it seems to be very important to many. Now that I’ve been using the Smart Folio, and it’s predecessors, for so long, however, I have gotten used to the low travel and typing noise. I’ve never understood those people that enjoy a loud clack, clack from their keyboard. I’m not sure if it’s down to the Bluetooth connection, the fact the keys are less accurate if you don’t press them perfectly in the center, or a combination of the two, but I definitely have to type slower, and more precisely when using the Brydge. Things aren’t all bad, however …
Things I do like about the Brydge keyboard
While I’ve been pretty negative about the keyboard so far in this post, there are some areas that really do appeal a great deal about the keyboard.
Firstly, as I’ve already touched on, the device looks absolutely beautiful. I won’t dwell on this point too much, but it really is a great looking accessory to an already tasty looking bit of kit.
While the keys are, indeed, squishy, and they miss keystrokes far more often than I’m comfortable with, the addition of function keys to control volume and adjust brightness, among others, is a great touch and it’s something I wish Apple could somehow squeeze into the Smart Folio moving forward. The keyboard also features backlit keys which, despite being a nice inclusion, was ultimately a bit wasted on me. I’ll very rarely write / use my iPad in the dark it seems.
Another thing I found myself liking the Brydge keyboard for was using the iPad on the desk in my study. Whilst only in certain situations, I found myself using the Brydge keyboard, when I knew I’d be sitting at my desk for some time, whilst connected to 4K monitor and my Logitech mouse. While this is very close to the MacBook I wanted to avoid, it is nice for the aforementioned specific situations that call for it.
Ultimately, for me, it came down to the particular way I used my iPad. At the time, I was rarely sitting down for any extended period of time at a desk so using the keyboard made little sense. It doesn’t lend itself well to someone that wants to move around a lot, unless you want to develop arms like Popeye from lugging the thing around.
Going full circle back to where this article started, Chris’ video has encouraged me to dust off the Brydge keyboard2 and give it another shot. I’ve written this article using it and, despite the slower than usual typing speed I’ve had to employ, I have to say I’m quite enjoying it. A few months ago, as soon as I got home, my iPhone would be set to charge and my iPad would be my evening companion should I need to do anything. Since getting the new iPad Mini, however, I’ve found I actually am using my iPad Pro in a more static configuration, so I’m presented another opportunity to put it through its paces. I must say I’ve enjoyed my time spent using it to write something a bit different.
This article wasn’t intended to be a review, it started life as just a link post to Chris’ great video. It hasn’t really ended up as a review either, but I would have still liked to have offered up a conclusion to my thoughts on the Brydge keyboard to anyone that had made it this far. As is probably evident from the above, however, I’m still pretty torn. 90% of my time will still be spent with the Smart Keyboard Folio. I just love it. For the rare occasions that I’m strictly desk bound, and equally rare occasions I write anything more than a few hundred words, the Brydge keyboard may well see the light of day.
- For those interested, I’m using the 2018 iPad Pro 12.9” in space grey. [return]
- I did actually try to return it early on, but the Brydge support team told me there would be a restocking fee to pay and that they would assess the device and send me a refund of whatever amount they thought suitable. Erm, what? [return]