Brydge, the high-quality aluminium keyboard and speaker-case for the full-sized iPad, was launched on Kickstarter in April this year. The project had a goal of $90,000 but gained a staggering $800,000 of pledges from eager-beaver would-be buyers. Brydge units were supposed to ship in October but were delayed; however users have now started to get their Brydges and we have a few first impressions and write-ups for the unit.
The Brydge keyboard dock and speaker unit joins with your iPad using a click-in clamp system and combines with the iPad to give it roughly the same dimensions as a MacBook Air. The styling of the Brydge mimics Apple’s laptop keyboards and is made of anodised aluminium. Data connection with the iPad is via Bluetooth and it works with the iPad 2, 3 and 4 and should work with future similar-format iPads due to the use of interchangeable shims in the hinge mechanism.
The Brydge has its own lithium-ion battery which should last for several months between charges (micro-USB cable included). Stereo speakers built into the unit can optionally be activated or left off to conserve battery.
While most reviews are happy with the build, design and operation of the Brydge, there are a few niggles, mostly down to the keyboard being small, to match the iPad frame, and the sacrifices made to do that. Various reviewers grouse about shift keys, cursor keys, lock keys and so on.
A functional nicety is that when the Brydge/iPad laptop is opened and closed it will wake and sleep, respectively. The Brydge is about the same weight as the iPad so your whole device will have double the weight, totalling around 1.2kg.
If you have an iPad and are interested in making a “fridge-toaster” device like the Microsoft Surface, the Brydge may be a good choice for you. It has great styling and a quality construction to match your iPad. The two reviews I have picked through by Time magazine and Mac Observer seem to be very pleased with the unit overall. The Brydge is priced at $210 but there is a newly-introduced black polycarbonate model for $150 (both prices plus $35 for international shipping). There are cheaper keyboard alternatives available such as the Zagg folio and the well-reviewed Logitech ultrathin keyboard cover but they don’t go as far in 'laptop-ising' your iPad.