Tuesday, March 31, 2020

How the Brydge Keyboard Transforms an iPad Mini into a MacBook

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There are many different types of bluetooth keyboard and case solutions available for iPads. And many of these are extremely similar. From black plastic clamshell designs, some with pivoting displays to even the snap-on Apple smart keyboard currently available for the iPad Pro. But what I have found to be rare is a design that truly looks like it is stamped from Apple’s design. That is, until I got my hands on the Brydge keyboard. Suddenly, my iPad Mini has been transformed into almost a MacBook.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - keyboard

The Brydge Keyboard Design

Before I dive into the functionality, let’s talk about the design and aesthetics. To start with, the Brydge keyboard is build out of aluminum which makes it strong yet light weight. This is important because the iPad Mini (in this case, I’m testing with an iPad Mini 2) is quite light weight itself. It’s important as a pair to remain light weight in my opinion. In fact, the Brydge keyboard weighs a mere 300 grams (0.66 lbs) which is just a bit lighter than an iPad Mini 2 (331 grams/0.73 lbs). Combined, the Brydge keyboard and an iPad Mini 2 weighs less than an 11 inch MacBook Air (1.08 kg/2.38 lbs) and less than an iPad Pro (713 grams/1.57 lbs.) So if you are looking to have a tablet with a keyboard, it’s hard to beat this combo.

The edges of the Brydge keyboard are nicely rounded, much like the iPad Mini. This, too, is important in order to match the form factor of the iPad Mini and without it looking out-of-place. If fact, the two devices in my opinion, look like siblings. Also, there is good attention to detail on the buttons and switches as they seem to quite adequately mirror those of the iPad Mini. The power switch toggle, for example, looks like the toggle on the iPad Mini.

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HTD Brydge Keyboard - button & switch

The bottom of the Brydge keyboard has 4 soft black rubber slightly raised feet to prevent the Brydge keyboard from sliding on a table.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - back

On the left side of the Brydge keyboard is a micro-USB port. This is how you charge the keyboard. With a full charge, the keyboard can last up to 3 months. Of course, this depends on your usage and if you use the back-lighting feature (yes, you read that correctly, back-lit keys but more about that in a bit).

HTD Brydge Keyboard - side no iPad

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One important thing to note, the keyboard can only hold the iPad Mini horizontally due to how it is designed. And, in fact, if you had the iPad Mini vertically placed, it would just be silly as you would have to repeatedly remove it and place it horizontally should you want to close it for transport. The iPad Mini (and the Brydge keyboard works with the iPad Mini, Mini 2 and Mini 3), it held firmly into place via two strong hinges which have soft plastic padding to hold the iPad. These two internal pads come in either black or white plastic and can be swapped out to match how you want it to look.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - hinge

The hinge allows for a 180 degree pivot and viewing angles. So it’s great for typing while on a table or using the Brydge keyboard just as a holder for watching movies while lying in bed or on a sofa.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - with iPad Mini

Also on the Brydge keyboard are some soft rubber pads to protect the screen of the iPad Mini when it is closed. You can see these quarter-circle pads on the photo above.

The Brydge Keyboard Functionality

Ok, so how does the Brydge keyboard work? For starters, it uses Bluetooth 3.0 to connect to your iPad Mini. Pairing is extremely easy. In fact, I didn’t look for instructions as normally you just put a keyboard in pairing mode and then go into the Bluetooth iOS settings and just pair the keyboard. To put the Brydge keyboard into pairing mode, you just press and hold the keyboard button next to the power switch on the Brydge Keyboard. Once it is paired, you are good to go.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - in box

One thing that immediately jumped out at me was how extremely similar the Brydge keyboard looked compared to my MacBook Pro’s keyboard. There are black, curved keys with white letters. Even the font of the keyboards look identical.

While the Brydge keyboard is not a full-sized keyboard, it is comfortable enough to type with. It has a soft touch and is pretty responsive. The keys on the right and left are butted up close to the edge with the “1” key being slightly smaller than other number keys.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - keyboard

The top row of buttons has the most interesting items, in my opinion. From the left, you have a Home button which mirrors the Home on the iPad. Next is a Lock button which will lock your iPad Mini’s screen. Then is the big one, the Light button. Pressing this button will turn on and off (through various dim cycles) the back lighting of the keyboard. The look of the Brydge keyboard with the back lighting on is extremely similar to that of a MacBook and it is great if you are in a dark room like a lecture hall or if you are in bed at night. From there, you have two screen lighting buttons that control the dimming of the iPad’s screen. You also have a dedicated Keyboard button to show and hide the on-screen keyboard. Then you have a Search button to bring up Siri searching. There are audio/video playback controls as well. Lastly you have two buttons to control the Volume of your iPad.

Elsewhere on the Brydge keyboard are TWO Shift keys (I always find that to be important so that you don’t have to relearn how to type if there is only one shift key). There is a Caps key and all of the other requisite keys like Ctrl, Option, Cmd, Delete, etc. Lastly, there are directional arrow keys for in-document navigation, for example. The Space bar is big as well.

HTD Brydge Keyboard - closed with iPad Mini

Overall, the Brydge keyboard can practically transform an iPad Mini into a laptop…almost! And, it won’t break your budget. It retails for $129.99 (it isn’t currently available on Amazon…yet). It also comes in 3 different colors to match your iPad Mini – Silver, Space Grey and Gold. It adds physical keyboard functionality to an already practical device. Having a backlit keyboard provides functionality in darker environments. And Brydge’s attention to the design of the Apple iPad Mini makes it truly feel like the two devices are of the same family.

Disclosure Text : I have a material connection because I received a gift or sample of a product for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was/am not expected to return this item or gift after my review period. All opinions within this article are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. More information can be found in my About page.

HTD says: If you are looking for a bluetooth keyboard for your iPad Mini, one that looks and feels like a true Apple-designed product, look no further than the Brydge keyboard. You won’t be disappointed.


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