This past week the long awaited Brydge Keyboard and Speaker for the iPad arrived. And I love it. Sure it's adding weight to my iPad Air 2, but it's also giving me a real keyboard experience, and the audio that can't be beat.
The Brydge has the fit and finish that compliments my iPad and basically gives me a Mac Book like experience. The keyboard is solid and responsive and has keys that are mapped to the most used iPad functions including brightness and audio controls, as well as the @ key, up, down, left and right cursors, Spotlight and iPad lock/unlock. It even has a dedicated key for SIRI so to say the makers of the Brydge have looked at what people do with their iPads is clearly there.
But it does have a weakness. While it may pair via Bluetooth quickly, when it comes to VoIP, it fails to deliver. And not only does it fail to connect audio from VoIP apps like Google's Hangouts, Counterpath's Bria and Citrix's GoToMeeting, it does one thing worse. It doesn't pass the audio back to the iPad at all. That means everyone on the other side of the conference call or phone call can hear you, but you can't hear them without disabling the Brydge.
Sadly, this defeats one of the Brydge's best feature. The rear facing speaker. What that does in effect is help reduce echo and latency because the sound is being directed away from the iPad's built in mic. (Note: I contacted the customer service team at Brydge and look forward to a reply). This is the same issue which the Mocet Communicator faces with WebEx, JoinMe and GoToMeeting but which due to co-development with CounterPath and by applying the Apple hardware spec was solved with Bria and Skype. But, unlike the Communicator, the Brydge goes with you so the proper handling of voice would be a great fix.
Beyond that one issue, in my three days of use so far, the Brydge more than lives up to it's promise, and their support team has been providing excellent email responses to basic questions including advising that the Air 2 holding clips will be to me this month.
The bottom line, if you want a real Macbook Air replacement, and do all your work in the cloud using apps like Microsoft Office 365, Google Work and more, then the Brydge is a must to be part of your iPad essentials when you want to be Working Anywhere.