I have owned several iPads over the years, from the original to my current 2nd version iPad Mini. I usually only use them to browse the Internet while watching TV or commuting, or to watch the occasional movie.
That being said, I have never used a keyboard with any of my iPad devices. That was until I recently tried out the BrydgeMini, a keyboard designed specifically for the iPad Mini.
I have to say that overall I like the concept, but there comes a point where size really does matter when it comes down to functionality and usability. The BrydgeMini keyboard may be walking the fine line between being functional and being burdensome.
Features of the BrydgeMini Keyboard
Premium aluminum design with backlit keys;
Has a three-month battery life on a single charge;
Two hinges for 180 degrees of positioning to essentially turn your iPad into a laptop; and
Available in gold, silver, and space gray.
What I liked
I will admit, this little keyboard is sleek, and dare I say, adorable (in the …it’s tiny and it’s a keyboard kind of way). There are several features of its design and functionality that I really like.
The backlit keyboard is great, as all backlit keyboards tend to be. It’s very useful when typing in a poorly lit room. There is also a flashing blue light that displays when the keyboard is at 10 percentbattery and ready for a charge.
The keyboard layout is intuitive. Since it is smaller than a standard sized keyboard,some of the keys have to do double, triple, or even quadruple duty. For the keys that have 3+ functions (for example “-_=+” are all one one key) there are clear instructions on how to access the other characters. Once you know the trick, it’s easy.
It’s compact. The width of the keyboard is almost exactly the same width as the iPad Mini, so when you close them together with the keyboard attached, the total width is less than 2 centimeters thick, which makes it very portable.
It’s flexible and versatile. The hinges provide 180-degree movement so that you can completely close the iPad Mini like a clamshell as well as completely open it to lay them both flat.
Where It Can Improve
The keyboard feels cramped. It’s clear that some design work went into configuring the traditional QWERTY keyboard for the space it needs to be able to occupy. Some of the keys are narrower to make room for the letter keys which they tried to keep as large as possible. However, when typing with it, I had trouble getting used to how close together my fingers felt…I kept having to look down at the keyboard to make sure they were on the correct keys.
The hinges are stiff. While the hinges do make for some versatility in position, they are very stiff which makes it hard to open and close. This may seem minor, but I had one instance where I tried opening the keyboard while standing up and my iPad ended up slipping from my hands and dropping to the floor (thank god for carpeting) because I was trying to hard to pry the two pieces apart.
It’s heavy. My initial guess was that it weight slightly less than my iPad Mini, but when I weighed it, it was actually about 1.5 ounces heavier. While relatively speaking, it’s a lightweight device, when you put them together it’s like you’re carrying two iPad Minis.
With a $129 price tag, and the fact that I don’t have much of a need to type with my iPad Mini, I, personally, wouldn’t run out and buy this keyboard. I can see how it could be useful for those who are constantly on the go, cannot bear the weight of carrying around a laptop, and have a lot of emails, blog posts, and documents to write. I also believe that a couple of the cons I listed, particularly the stiff hinges and cramped keypad, could get easier over time. The hinges might loosen up with a lot of use, and it could be relatively easy for some people to adapt to the small keyboard. With nothing to compare it to, I would likely test out a few keyboards before committing to one.