The Brydge Air must be the most complete, most user-friendly keyboard for an iPad Air 2 or an iPad Air, giving you the best typing experience on the market. This keyboard turns your iPad in a true mini notebook, complete with backlit keys and the Mac-like shortcuts like the Command-Tab key combination to switch apps.
The Brydge Air has been made specifically for the iPad Air 2 and iPad Pro 9.7inch. It will also work with an iPad Air — with a simple adjustment. The first thing that you’ll notice when you receive the Brydge Air in its nicely designed box is its weight. This keyboard is made of aluminium and inside there’s a robust battery and a pair of stereo speakers. The whole thing together with your iPad Air 2 weighs in at 965 grams. That’s much more lightweight than any notebook computer, but it’s a lot more than the traditional plastic-made add-on keyboards you’ll usually find for iPad tablets.
The Brydge Air does not enclose the iPad as an envelope, nor does it require the iPad to be so close to the keypad that it becomes uncomfortable. Instead, your iPad’s left and right screen edge is firmly grasped by two alu clamps with silicon dampers in-between. If you have an iPad Air, the silicon dampers or shims can be replaced by different models that accommodate for the thicker edge. If you think the clamps don’t grasp your iPad well enough, you can gently squeeze them a bit further to make their grip tighter.
Once the grip is adjusted to your liking, the ‘connection’ between iPad and Brydge Air feels as secure and integrated as the screen hinge on a regular MacBook. An added benefit of the Brydge method is that your iPad hinges, leaving a generous space between the lower end of the screen and the top key row. Unlike a MacBook the iPad can be tilted further backward — almost to a flat position, in fact. I found that very appealing, especially if you want to keep using your iPad for sketching or drawing.
Before using the Brydge Air I dreaded the keyboard’s key travel and feel. After all, the keyboard is small and has shallow depth. I needn’t have worried. The typing experience couldn’t be better and the key travel is just enough to give you a good tactile feedback. Personally, I felt like the Brydge Air gave me the same comfort as Apple’s own wireless keyboard. The keys on the keyboard are pretty standard, except perhaps for the absence of a forward delete key, which on an Apple wireless keyboard can be generated by typing Fn-Backspace.
Other things that make for a nice user experience are the ability to set your screen brightness from the keyboard, to activate shortcut cheat sheets in apps that support it — like Ulysses for iOS — the ability to go back to the Home screen with a key and to the switch apps screen (normally activated by swiping all fingers outward) and to call up the screen keyboard (e.g. when you want to type an emoji). There’s even a key for going directly to the search screen and of course you can control music from the Brydge Air as well. Best of all, you can wake up your iPad using the Brydge Air’s Home key.
Setting up the Brydge Air was equally comfortable. You connect the keyboard itself via Bluetooth and optionally you can also connect the speakers. I can’t say I found the speakers an enormous improvement over the iPad’s built-in thingies. The Brydge Air’s have a bit of a richer bass, but it’s really marginal. The stereo experience is better, though, because the speakers are further apart.
Brydge claims you’ll run out of battery power after about three months, depending on your usage. I don’t know if that’s correct. I do know that after seven hours of using the keyboard with its backlight on, the battery hasn’t lost even one LED flash (out of four), so I guess it will last at least more than a month.
Would I recommend this keyboard? If you love to type on you iPad I would certainly do. I would even say that if you have the money to buy (or be given) an iPad, the money you spend on the Brydge Air will make you feel better about your purchase. The iPad was never conceived to be a notebook replacement, I know. It’s even better as it is smaller and weighs less. The Brydge Air costs around €135. It’s worth every cent.