The Brydge+ with Speakers is an aluminum keyboard/speaker combo that attaches to iPads in the second through fourth generations, and enables you to use an iPad mostly like a laptop.
The built-in stereo speaker adds quite a bit of oomph to the sound capabilities of either the iPad, or whatever Bluetooth music player you feel like pairing with it.
The keyboard and the speaker are two separately pairable devices sharing the same aluminum housing, so if you wanted to pair an Android device or iPhone, and play music, and still use the keyboard, it should be possible.
The Brydge+ folds into a screen protector when it’s closed, and has a magnet trigger that will wake up your iPad when it’s opened.
Second generation iPads (like what I have) require you to change out the rubber grips that secure the iPad to the Brydge+, but that took about two minutes for me to do and most of that two minutes was attempting to wrangle a baby, so I think the average user’s time will be significantly shorter.
The Brydge+ turns typing on the iPad from something I really don’t do much into something that is not only easy, but enjoyable as typing can be. Gone are the horrible auto-corrections and accidentally hitting outside the keyboard when the screen rotates. The tactile feedback of a real keyboard lets me type like I’m used to.
When the device is closed the iPad look like a closed up mini laptop, and the Brydge+ looks like a natural extension except for the kind of clunky looking grips that are required to hold the iPad in place.
The only issues I’ve encountered are that after a bit of inactivity the keyboard might not be paired still, but it picks up pretty quickly. It seems to generally miss the first word if I’ve let it go to sleep before coming fully awake.
I find one claim of a two month battery life on the web, however I’m not sure if that’s two month standby, or normal use, or use with or without the speaker.
Whenever it finally does die however, it charges via a standard MicroUSB cable, which they’ve included.
Is the Brydge+ with Speakers worth it?
If you’re expecting a laptop experience with the Brydge+, it’s close but it’s not perfect. Without a mouse of some sort built in I keep hitting the center below the spacebar looking for something before realizing I need to actually touch the screen. This is something that just goes against my normal set of laptop reflexes.
The quality of the Brydge+ is evident from the moment you open it, but if you only need a keyboard there are significantly less expensive alternatives available online, and although they don’t angle the display if you’ve got a case that you like that does you’d be able to keep it and buy a plastic BT keyboard for under $30.
Using the Brydge+ also requires that you remove any cases that you might be using, so corner and back protection even when closed becomes a concern. If you’re not in the habit of dropping iPads, you’re probably not going to need to worry about this. If you have a rampaging one year old it becomes a valid concern.
It’s also pretty evident right after you start dealing with the mobile versions of apps they don’t behave quite like you would expect them to, but that’s not the keyboard’s fault, that’s just the mobile design.
If you need to do a lot of typing, or just want to traverse between a semi-laptop and iPad experience, the Brydge+ can make your iPad into a device that’s significantly easier to write, edit, and create content. This review was mostly written using the Brydge+ although the images and adding hyperlinks I did on my computer as without a mouse, or direct access to the images, it did become a pain.
The Brydge+ Keyboard with Speaker has been reduced from the normal MSRP of $150 to $99 on the manufacturer’s website for Father’s Day and would make a decent gift for the techie iDad in your life.
The Brydge+ with Speakers is available on the manufacturer’s site for $99. There’s also a carrying case for the combo which is pretty nice looking for $19.99, although I have not had a chance to play with it much.