Ryan Thomason

WPR Tech Talk: BrydgeAir Keyboard for the iPad Air

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When I was asked if I wanted to review a BrydgeAir keyboard from Brydge Keyboards for my new iPad Air 2, I was a little curious. First, I didn’t know if it was something I would need. I use my iPad mainly for surfing the net with some of the features that are good for people like me with bad vision. Do I hate using the touchscreen iPad keyboard? Yes. After testing the BrydgeAir? I’ve opened up a whole new set of usability on my iPad that has made a lot of apps more functional, especially for my graduate classes.

Setup was simple enough, after making sure I got a good charge on the BrydgeAir keyboard, I simply turned it on, looked at the bluetooth setting on my iPad and connected the devices. After taking off all of my Otterbox protection I keep on the iPad, I slid it into the iPad holders on the BrydgeAir keyboard and looked at the screen. Was that it? I lifted everything up and inspected the sides, glanced to make sure I wasn’t missing any cable connections or anything. It was really that easy to setup. Now, I had more than an iPad, basically I just turned it into a small Netbook computer. From a durability standpoint, the case is aluminum and though it adds more weight than a plastic build counterpart, I feel a whole heck of a lot safer putting this in my backpack and lugging it around. Plus, it just looks damn sexy in the exact same space grey as my iPad Air.

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I had a couple of weeks to test out how well the keyboard functionality worked when it came to my note taking during my graduate classes. See, I’m that guy that feels super old in a class full of young MBA student whippersnappers. They all sit down, pull out laptops and start typing away when the professor starts talking. I get out my spiral bound notebook, my pen and my extra pen in case the first one stops working. Halfway through class, my hand starts to hurt from writing down the lecture and slides feverishly. I’d take my iPad and have the lecture slides downloaded so I could flip through them as the professor progressed. Now that I had the keyboard?

My note taking changed instantly.

Usually I would start the class strong, writing down anything I thought was worth noting, filled up a page or four quickly. By the end of class I was just writing down anything that stood out, or he wrote on the board. My first class day using the BrydgeAir I actually had the most complete set of notes I’ve done yet. I felt good, because I go over my notes a lot, it’s how I memorize the material. The keyboard didn’t feel small when I was typing, which is a huge issue I have with Netbooks or smaller laptops in general. It was quiet as all could be and didn’t make my bag that much heavier for carrying around. The top of the keyboard as all the buttons to change the dimmer on the iPad, search the web, play/pause and rewind type of stuff for videos and the ever handy volume buttons. Heck, there is even a button to turn on the Mic if you feel like pestering Siri or as I attempted, to see if it could pick up my professor speaking and write down what he was saying for me. It didn’t work, but I can’t blame the professor for not screaming at the top of his lungs so the iPad mic would pick him up. Law Aspects of Contracts is just not worth screaming about I guess.

Aside from using the BrydgeAir for taking notes during my classes, I’ve been testing on using it for my general purpose writing. Typically, I’m a sit at the PC/Desk and hammer out my writing type of person. I have my five by five foot sphere of influence in the house where all the work gets done. Using the BrydgeAir keyboard; I did some writing in bed, on the couch, or just sitting at the kitchen counter. It was an adjustment writing in various places to be honest. I know a lot of writers have a strict procedure they must endure to get into that space in their head where the words pour out from the brain into their fingertips. With some adjustment, I was able to write out a good portion of this review from the BrydgeAir in various locations, then save the file in my Dropbox for polishing off on my PC. Though I’m a creature of habit. Especially in my writing, I can see myself taking the BrydgeAir along with my iPad on our next trip. So that when inspiration hits, I don’t have to scribble notes into my small notebook.

Overall, I say that if you have an iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and (coming soon, you can currently only pre-order) iPad Pro, the Brydge keyboards are well worth the investment to turn the iPads into something a bit more. While the price point might be a little high for some people for a keyboard, remember this. You’re essentially doubling the usability of your iPad. A BrydgeAir keyboard will cost around $149, the BrydgeMini for iPad Mini is $129.99 and the standard Brydge+ keyboard for the iPad is $79.99. Trust me, you’ll find the value when you start using the keyboard with your iPad. If you’re a student, writer, or just someone that hates using the touchscreen keyboards (that’s me) then just go ahead and get one of these keyboards. The setup takes only a few minutes and before you know it, all those programs on the iPad devices that would be so much better if you didn’t have to use the touch keyboard, just got awesome.

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