I’m not yet ready to ditch my MacBook Air for an iPad Pro for on-the-go work and play. Could the combination of iPadOS 13, which should arrive next month or October, and a Brydge Pro keyboard change my mind? Maybe.
If you want to use your iPad Pro as a laptop replacement/alternative the Brydge Pro is the best option I’ve tried. At $169.99 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (which I use), it’s pricey, but packs a lot of features. (The Brydge Pro keyboard for the 11-inch iPad Pro costs $149.99.)
The keyboard — which can connect either wirelessly by Bluetooth 4.1 or wired via USB-C — provides multiple viewing modes. I kinda wished it utilized the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector feature (which Apple seems determined NOT to promote). The folks at Brydge say the keyboard provides up to a 12-month battery life. We’ll have to take their word for it, since I’ve only been testing it for 10 days.
To begin using the Brydge Pro, place it on a flat surface and rotate its clamps upright to 90 degrees. This isn’t as easy as you might think, as the flips are a bit difficult to rotate the first few times you use them. Then insert the Apple tablet into the clamps until fully sealed.
You should remove any non-Brydge screen protector from your iPad before attaching the keyboard to prevent pressure and damage to the screen when inserted. To remove the tablet from the keyboard, place it on a flat surface and pull up evenly and smoothly on the iPad.
One detail that I really love about the Brydge Pro: when you close it, there are little rubber nubs to prevent the keys from touching the iPad Pro display and scratching or marring it. And rubber feet on the keyboard’s bottom keep it from sliding around on a desktop or tray.
There’s also a feature that makes the keyboard/table combo feel very Mac laptop-ish: when you close the Byrdge Pro, the iPad and keyboard goes to sleep. Open it, and it automatically reconnects.
Speaking of protection, there’s snap-on magnetic cover that protects the back of the tablet. That’s a nice touch as long as you don’t mind the Brydge logo instead of the Apple logo adorning your tablet. The patented hinge provides viewing angles from 0-180 degrees and features a Tablet Mode and Movie Mode mode.
Once you’re up and going, you’re going to enjoy typing on the Brydge Pro. Unlike Apple’s Smart Folio, it has backlit keys with three different brightness options and iOS shortcut keys. It boasts full-sized keys and dedicated keys for Home, Lock, backlighting adjustment, show/hide keyboard, media control, and more. The arrow keys come in a familiar inverted-T design. Note that you must press the keys firmly. Light presses may not get the job done.
The biggest issue with the keyboard is that you’ll have to remove the iPad Pro from the Brydge Pro if you want to use the tablet in portrait mode. I guess that’s a small price to pay if you use the tablet primary as most folks use laptops.
Also, the Brydge Pro is made of aluminum and is durable, but adds over a pound to the weight of the iPad Pro. That said, it’s available in either space gray or silver to match Apple’s tablets.
If you only use your iPad Pro occasionally for laptop-like tasks, you might be better off with Apple’s Smart Folio, which is more agile at allowing you to swap between tasks and orientations. However, if you’re looking to ditch your Mac laptop for an iPad Pro, this is the keyboard for you.