Brydge has been designing keyboards for iPads for quite a while, so it wasn’t surprising to see that they were one of the few accessory manufacturers to release a new keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. In this Apple World Today review, I’ll take a detailed look at the US$139.99 Brydge 10.5 Keyboard.
The Brydge 10.5 Keyboard uses the design cues from earlier models made by Brydge. By that, I mean that the keyboard features a pair of padded pivoting grips (see image below) that hold onto the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, turning the iPad into a small clamshell device. Think of it as a small laptop and you’ve got the correct idea. This is one of the few accessory keyboards for the iPad Pro that can be removed in seconds without having to wrestle with removing it from a shell.
The Brydge 10.5 comes in four different colors to match the finishes of the Apple iPad Pro — Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold. As the keyboard is designed to work as a cover for the iPad when closed, the colors are matched very closely and look like they’re part of the Apple product.
Brydge is one of the few manufacturers that creates alternate keyboard layouts for other countries. In addition to the standard QWERTY layout, it’s also possible to purchase the Brydge 10.5 in AZERTY, QWERTZ and NORDIC layouts.
Brydge addressed one of the main issues I had with Logitech’s Slim Combo keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. That keyboard added a lot of bulk to the slender iPad Pro, making it over an inch thick. When closed, the Brydge 10.5 / iPad Pro combo is only 0.5 inch (12.7mm) thick (see image below). The Brydge 10.5 has a nice solid feel to it, and it weighs 1.14 lb (520g). That weight and the feet on the bottom of the keyboard insure that it's going to stay still while you're typing.
There’s another thing to love about the Brydge 10.5 — it’s backlit, with three levels of adjustability making it possible to type in almost any dim lighting conditions.
The layout of the keyboard I tested was perfect — the keys are spaced just properly, there are no keys in places that you wouldn’t ordinarily expect them, and there are actually six rows of keys — the normal letter and space keys (4 rows), the number keys (1 row) and an iOS function row. At the bottom of the keyboard is just enough space to provide a comfortable wrist rest while typing.
The design of the Brydge 10.5 features a pair of small rubber bumpers that keep the keys on the keyboard from contacting the screen. This is a very good design feature, as a Logitech keyboard I used for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro actually left an impression on the screen!
Probably the only design negative is that the back of the iPad Pro is left exposed to scratches. I’d love to see Brydge come out with a thin protective shell that could be placed on the iPad to protect it while using the keyboard / iPad Pro combo.
Installing the Brydge 10.5 takes seconds. There’s a power button in the upper right corner of the keyboard; it not only signals when the keyboard is turned on, but also lets you know when the keyboard is in pairing mode.
That’s right — this is a Bluetooth keyboard, so it must be paired with the iPad Pro before use. Fortunately, that’s a quick process. However, I do like the concept of the Apple Smart Connector — not having to make sure that a keyboard is charged up before use is nice, and this keyboard sometimes lagged 3 to 5 seconds before linking with Bluetooth and letting me start typing.
As for the typing “feel”, I think there’s some room for improvement on the Brydge 10.5. Three of the keys were somewhat “off” in that they required a very hard tap in order to register — these were the “o”, “d” and “delete” keys. That makes it quite difficult to type at full speed, as you either need to adjust your typing pressure and really pound on the keys all the time, or remember that you have to type hard when hitting those specific keys. I’m sure this isn’t a problem with all of the keyboards and was probably just something specific to this one unit.
As you’d expect, the Brydge shuts off when the iPad screen is “closed” onto the keyboard. That bit of a lag between opening the keyboard and being able to type is annoying to me; it appears that you need to actually touch a key and wait before it links. It would be nice if the Brydge could sense when the iPad Pro has been lifted and then turn itself on.
Battery life of the Brydge 10.5 is listed as 12 months at 2 hours per day of usage. As you’d expect, I didn’t get to test that…
As usual, Brydge has created a very good keyboard for the iPad Pro. It’s solid, it matches the color of the iPad Pro perfectly, and the keyboard layout is stellar. However, I found the slight lag connecting to the iPad Pro and the three keys that required a super-hard press to be annoyances. At this time, though, I think the Brydge 10.5 is the best possible keyboard for the 10.5 iPad Pro.