Wednesday, 31 May 2017 15:15

Brydge the gap – Surface Pro keyboard (review)

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One of the issues raised about the Microsoft Surface Pro Keyboard is that while good, it does not provide quite the excellent laptop typing experience of the heavier metal Microsoft Book keyboard. Brydge solves that problem admirably.

Brydge 12.3 BRY-7001 is a third-party Bluetooth, QWERTY keyboard for Surface Pro 3, 4 and the new Pro that makes it very “Book-like” in terms of solid feel – you cannot flip it over and go 360° like the Book but it will almost lie flat (160°).

The connection is easy – slip the Surface Pro into the two “hinge pressure clamps” and pair via Bluetooth. From that point onward, the keyboard will automatically wake once the Surface Pro is opened or turned on. Once joined you cannot use the Pro kickstand – it becomes a clamshell notebook.

Brydge header

Brydge managing director Toby Mander-Jones said, “Surface Pro users have been waiting for a powerful and complementary keyboard like the Brydge 12.3. The Surface is a powerful and versatile device that deserves a keyboard that unlocks its true potential.”

Charging

Power is via a micro-USB port and the cable provided will connect to the Surface Pro USB-A port. Once charged it should last three months.

Keypress

It uses Chiclet-style island keys. They are well spaced and provide reasonable tactile feedback. The 1.5mm throw is a little more than the 1.4mm on the Surface Pro keyboard – fine.

The keyboard is edge-lit (the Surface Keyboard is backlit through the keys). Where it beats the Surface Keyboard is in the lack of “bounce” back – it is rock solid.

Brydge Surface Pro

Trackpad

The trackpad is about 75% of the size of the Surface Pro. While it is sensitive and accurate, it means slightly more finger action is required.

It does support two-finger gestures like zoom and contract as well as three-finger gestures to open Cortana or apps.

Build quality

At 745g and 7.4mm thick it is solid and well made – certainly, you need to consider that if you want to add that to the 786g of the Surface Pro tablet which has a keyboard that is about 310g and 4.9mm thick.

Brydge flat

It matches the Surface design cues perfectly.

Drop-ability is always an issue with tablets. While I think the pressure hinges securely fasten to the tablet it does place some pressure on the front glass, I was not game to drop it to try it. The Surface Keyboard attaches magnetically and, if anything, would act as a bit of a bumper cover when dropped.

Pros:

  • Well made – solid Aluminium and Surface style.
  • Good keyboard – as good as the Surface Pro Keyboard cover and not far behind the Surface Book.
  • Gives Surface Book like keyboard functionality to the Surface Pro – Laptop ability.
  • I don’t mind a Bluetooth connection – you can use it as a separate keyboard on a desk (will pair with any Bluetooth enabled computer).

Cons:

  • Unsubstantiated doubts about drop-ability and the possible effect of the hinge on the screen.

Price and availability

Priced at $249 and now available at JB Hi-Fi and selected Harvey Norman stores around the country.

There is an option of a 128GB SSD (requires USB-3 cable to USB-A on Surface to theoretically achieve 600mbps). Price not given.

Summary

It depends on need. If portability – lightness – is your need then the Surface Keyboard meets that criteria. It costs $199.95.

If a better typing experience on a clamshell notebook is your need, the Brydge meets that criterion.

Brydge and Pro

Many times, I have wanted a Bluetooth keyboard for the flexibility – so it is a qualified yes. I would buy the Brydge.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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