Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review


Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review is a post by Travis Pope from Gotta Be Mobile.

Microsoft calls the 2017 Surface Pro “the most versatile laptop” in its ads, but the only way you can truly make it a laptop is with an add-on like the Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard. After all, it doesn’t have a keyboard dock like the Surface Book does.

The Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard costs $149.99. Hinge slots along the top edge of the keyboard hold your Surface upright as you work on a train, in the back seat of a car or on a plane.

All told, the Brydge Surface Keyboard a very convenient way to fix one of the Surface Pro’s biggest design compromises. Of course, as any accessory does, it introduces all-new compromises you may not have counted on.

Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review: Design

The Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard’s aluminum body matches the Surface Pro. It’s just 0.64-inches thick. Four black pads on the bottom keep the keyboard and your Surface Pro from shifting on any Surface as you work and play.

The keyboard deck is reminiscent of a MacBook for sure. The Brydge has black keys embedded in the aluminum frame.  A silver trackpad lets you easily navigate Windows 10 without touching your screen. Plastic clips marry your Surface Po to the keyboard. Rubber inside each clip keeps your Surface Pro from shifting as you open and close the setup throughout the day.

When connected, the Brydge Keyboard and Surface Pro weigh 1.43-pounds. That’s less than the 3.6-pounds a Surface Book would weigh, but not as light as the Surface Pro is with a Type Cover accessory. You’ll notice these two devices in your laptop bag for sure.

Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review: Setup

Surface Type Covers and the Surface Book keyboard dock rely on the Surface Connect port for power and communication. The Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard doesn’t do that, and that means it comes with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

It uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with the Surface. You must put the keyboard into pairing mode and connect to it using your Surface Pro’s Settings app. This process is more cumbersome than the quick snap that the Type Cover needs, but you can use it to interact with your Surface from feet away. That’s something the Type Covers can not do.

A Micro-USB port charges the keyboard’s internal battery. So, you do have to monitor how much battery it has left. Brydge says the battery lasts three months with regular use and I found no reason to doubt them. A tiny USB cable allows you to charge it from your Surface if it dies on you away from home. The more expensive Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard 128 uses this same plug to add 128GB of solid storage to your PC.

The Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard paired with my Surface Pro 4 without any fuss every time.

Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review: Experience

All good laptops have plenty of key travel, key caps that feel substantial, a few shortcuts and a slick trackpad surface. The Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard comes close to having all these things, but misses in some key areas.

Typing with the Brydge Keyboard

Each letter or command key has 1.5mm of travel. That’s the same key dexterity as the Surface Book with Performance Base and Surface Laptop, two actual notebooks that Microsoft also sells. The entire keyboard is backlit too, meaning you don’t need to search for a light to see what you’re typing. Three light levels get you the exact brightness you crave.

The sheer number of shortcuts the Brydge keyboard offers surprised me. You expect audio and brightness control. You don’t expect a function key dedicated to opening Outlook Mail or Windows 10’s app switcher. I appreciated that level of detail and I wish my Surface Type Cover also had them.

Brydge’s attention to deal shows up in other places too. Semi-circular rubber pads on the keyboard deck prevent the keys from touching your Surface Pro’s display. I never worried that the keyboard was in my bag destroying my display, which was nice.

Using the Surface Pro’s kickstand and Type Cover to steady it in your lap has never been satisfying. It always feels like you’re one mistake away from dropping the device to the floor. I should know; I dropped my last Surface Pro while working on it in my lap.

The Brydge Surface Keyboard solves that problem. I typed away in a coffee shop for hours with my Surface sitting in my lap. Usually, I search the café for empty tables after typing on my Surface Pro for around an hour because it feels unsteady. Working with the Brydge Keyboard and Surface Pro felt so natural that I spent my entire day in a leather arm chair comfortably typing away. Even better, this setup didn’t heat up my lap like a traditional laptop might. I didn’t notice any screen wobbling either. That’s also something many traditional notebooks suffer from.

But all isn’t well with this pairing. This keyboard doesn’t have a glass trackpad, and lovers of the Surface Type Cover will immediately notice its less slick because of that. This wouldn’t be that bad if the trackpad wasn’t also very, very small compared to other trackpads. My finger hit the top and bottom of the trackpad enough that I connected a Surface Arc Mouse and avoided it completely. It’s an unfortunate problem for what’s otherwise a good keyboard.

Should You Buy the Bridge 12.3 Surface Keyboard?

Good accessories solve a design problem and the Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard does that. It truly does turn the 2017 Surface Pro, Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 into laptops. Its keys are a pleasure to type on and the keyboard deck itself doesn’t bend and flex. There’s no wobbling as you type either, and that’s something even real notebooks suffer from.

Only the incredibly small, and not very satisfying trackpad ruin this package. Unfortunately, that’s enough for me to not recommend everyone with a Surface Pro buy it. If you’re happy with your Surface Type Cover, keep using it.

However, if you purchased a Surface Pro, but really wanted a Surface Book because of its keyboard dock, buy the Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard for $149.99. Provided you’re ok with the very small trackpad, you won’t regret your purchase. Your Surface Pro will finally live up to that “versatile laptop” tagline Microsoft uses these days.

Brydge 12.3 Surface Keyboard Review is a post by Travis Pope from Gotta Be Mobile.

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