The last couple of months, I’ve had the privilege of using the Brydgeair keyboard for the iPad Air. This keyboard, created from the same kind of unibody aluminum as the iPad’s back, feels like a natural extension of the iPad. In both look and feel, including the backlit keyboard, it feels like a genuine Mac product. It features stereo speakers (also connecting via Bluetooth) and a full complement of function keys, allowing control of every aspect of the iPad from the keyboard. The few exterior buttons on the Brydgeair are made to both resemble and correspond to the location of the volume buttons and mute switch on the iPad.
My biggest complaint with Bluetooth keyboards has always been the feel of typing on them. Usually, it feels too plasticky, and sometimes even seems to bend a little as you’re typing on them. This was the major selling point for me on the ASUS Transformer Prime, back when it was new, and I feel the same way about the Brydgeair keyboard. It feels almost exactly like the keyboard on the 11″ Macbook Air, only slightly shrunk. In fact, its only weakness comes just in the nature of what it is. The Brydgeair keyboard is small, about the size of a standard netbook keyboard, and takes some time to get used to. People with exceedingly large hands may have trouble with the size of the keys and the spacing between them. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t enjoy typing on a small keyboard, however, you’re probably not reading this review with the intention of buying.
One concern with Bluetooth products is always battery life. Nobody wants to be turning the keyboard on and off to preserve battery life, and there’s nothing worse than going to type only to find that your keyboard is dead. This is one area where the Brydgeair particularly shines. In the time I’ve had it, often going a week between charges, I have never run the keyboard’s battery dry. I don’t turn off the keyboard between uses, but the keyboard does have an automatic sleep feature that keeps it from draining the battery when not in use. The only warning, and it’s one that’s given in the Brydgeair’s manual, is to turn off the Bluetooth sound when not in use, because it will drain the battery faster. This is easily accomplished with one of the Brydgeair’s three external buttons.
As a writer with a busy life, this keyboard has been a godsend. The iPad with the keyboard attached is low-profile enough to comfortably fit in my tablet case. It charges from readily-available micro-USB cables. And it both locks and shuts off the display of the iPad when closed.
The only concerns I’ve had with the keyboard in the months of use is that some of the bumpers have fallen off (slots visible in the keyboard shot) and that it has been scratched up some. Neither of these are a big deal to me or much of a surprise because I am usually pretty rough on my mobile tech. In truth, this keyboard is holding up much better than other tablet keyboards I’ve had. The only other frustration with age is that the silicone pads that hold in the iPad begin to hold a little less firmly, allowing the iPad to slide and come out. I have not tried any rudimentary cleaning of the pads to see if that fixes the issue.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a keyboard that attaches to the iPad, and you aren’t afraid to spend a little more for it, the Brydgeair is a fantastic choice. At $169.00 they’re on the pricier side for Bluetooth keyboards, but they are both more durable and have more features than the average Bluetooth keyboard.
Disclosure: I was given a review copy in return for an honest review.