TURN YOUR IPAD INTO A MAC­BOOK

Bry­dge+ iPad Blue­tooth key­board

HWM (Singapore) - - Test - by JamesLu

The Bry­dge+ iPad Blue­tooth key­board is com­pat­i­ble with 2nd to 4th gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple iPads and of­fers a sim­i­lar look and feel to Ap­ple’s own prod­ucts. In fact, if you have a black iPad, at­tach­ing it to a Bry­dge+ will make it look just like a mini Mac­Book Pro. An iPad Air ver­sion is cur­rently in de­vel­op­ment and will be avail­able later this year. Ma­chined out of a sin­gle block of aero­space grade alu­minum, the key­board feels over­built and is quite heavy, weigh­ing 525g, which is al­most as much as the 4th gen­er­a­tion iPad (652g) we’re us­ing for this re­view. Most of the weight is to­wards the front of the key­board, and we’re told that, due to the weight of older iPads, the ex­tra weight is nec­es­sary to stop the iPad from top­pling over.

At the back of the key­board, two hinges lined with soft sil­i­cone cre­ate a tight enough fit to lock the iPad in place. As men­tioned, we’re us­ing a 4th gen iPad for this re­view, but a thin­ner iPad 2 will fit too, al­beit slightly less snugly – the pack­ag­ing also in­cludes a pair of iPad 2 shims that can be fit­ted into the hinges to pro­vide a tighter fit.

While the hinges are large and pro­vide a se­cure fit, they’re per­haps the only area of the Bry­dge+ that isn’t too at­trac­tive. Due to the size of the hinges, they’re rather con­spic­u­ous and, as they’re also quite thick and an odd shape, they some­what spoil the clean lines of the rest of the de­vice.

The hinges them­selves feel very ro­bust, and are quite stiff, which lets the iPad be tilted through a full 180-de­gree range, from closed all the way to com­pletely open and level with the key­board. This gives the Bry­dge+ a dis­tinct ad­van­tage over al­most all other key­board cases out there, most of which use a slot or stand to po­si­tion the iPad at spe­cific an­gles. With the Bry­dge+, work­ing with the iPad in your lap or on a ta­ble is equally com­fort­able, as the dis­play can eas­ily be ad­justed with an ideal view­ing an­gle. The hinges also ex­tend slightly past the base of the key­board, which lets them act as feet when the dis­play is open, slightly el­e­vat­ing the rear of the key­board to pro­vide a more

com­fort­able typ­ing an­gle. The base of the key­board also has four rub­ber strips, which help keep the de­vice from slid­ing around on the ta­ble.

With the hinges closed, the iPad closes neatly over the top of the key­board, fully pro­tect­ing the front dis­play and, thanks to a mag­net, putting the iPad - as well as the key­board it­self - to sleep. Thin rub­ber strips on the wristrest area pro­tect the dis­play by pre­vent­ing it from fully touch­ing the key­board. Un­for­tu­nately, the rear of the iPad is com­pletely ex­posed, so you might want a car­ry­ing case to pro­tect it from scratches dur­ing travel.

Of all the iPad key­boards we’ve tested, the Bry­dge+ def­i­nitely of­fers the best typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and eas­ily ri­vals or sur­passes many note­book key­boards. The keys are very firm, bor­der­ing on slightly stiff, with a sur­pris­ingly gen­er­ous amount of travel, re­sult­ing in a very sat­is­fy­ing and com­fort­able typ­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. De­spite the slightly smaller size of the key­board - roughly 88% the size of a full-size key­board - spac­ing be­tween each key is quite gen­er­ous and it shouldn’t take too long to be­come fully pro­fi­cient. Any­one with ex­pe­ri­ence typ­ing on a net­book will have no trou­ble tran­si­tion­ing to the Bry­dge+. The lower right area of the key­board, where Bry­dge has squeezed in full-size ar­row keys, does feel slightly cramped, and the right shift key is a bit un­der­sized as a re­sult.

The top row of the key­board has ded­i­cated iPad and me­dia con­trol keys, in­clud­ing keys for the home but­ton, dis­play bright­ness, and finder. Un­for­tu­nately, a few of the but­tons no longer work in iOS7, such as the Pho­tos and In­ter­net but­ton.

The Bry­dge+ in­cludes built-in stereo speak­ers, po­si­tioned above the key­board’s top row. The speak­ers are quite loud, and a def­i­nite step up from the iPad’s own speaker, but not as good as the au­dio you would get from a stand­alone por­ta­ble Blue­tooth speaker like an X-Mini. While the tonal range was a bit limited, with thin bass, and slightly muddy tre­ble, nev­er­the­less, if you’re us­ing your iPad as a per­sonal movie watch­ing de­vice, the Bry­dge+’s cen­tral speaker is still far bet­ter than the weak one-sided au­dio of the iPad’s own speaker.

Over­all, the Bry­dge+ key­board prob­a­bly isn’t for ev­ery­one. While most other iPad key­board cases try to keep their de­signs as slim and light as pos­si­ble, the Bry­dge+ nearly dou­bles the iPad’s weight and thick­ness. But what you get in re­turn is a full note­book ex­pe­ri­ence - some­thing you just can’t find with any other iPad key­board case - thanks to the Bry­dge+’s ad­justable view­ing an­gle, open and close clamshell de­sign and su­pe­rior key­board. With Mi­crosoft Of­fice now avail­able for iOS, a Bry­dgee­quipped iPad is one of the best com­pact-sized pro­duc­tiv­ity de­vices you can buy.

The Bry­dge+’s large speaker has plenty of vol­ume.

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