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Toughen up your iPad with the Brydge 10.2 Max+

The iPad 10.2 is one of the best value tablets money can buy. There’s a lot that this versatile device can do, but it lacks one critical component that would make it a productivity machine. You probably already know I’m talking about a keyboard. Brydge has a long history of detachable keyboards that lock onto your iPad and make it much handier. In the past, I have called Brydge among the best keyboard experiences I’ve ever encountered.

But Brydge keyboards had a couple of problems associated with them. Notably, the clamp system that Brydge used to attach the keyboard wasn’t the easiest to get off. Once the keyboard was on, it was pretty much there to stay. Plus, while the clamshell worked to protect the screen, the back of the tablet was exposed. Finally, I had an issue with some scratches in the back of my iPad from the clamping mechanism. Fortunately, Brydge has solved all three of those problems with the Brydge 10.2 Max+.

Brydging the gap

The Brydge Max + turns your iPad into a sort of laptop.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

In the box, you get not only a keyboard for your iPad 10.2 but also a case for the iPad itself. It’s a black TPU case that Brydge says can sustain a fall of up to four feet. The keyboard uses a clamp and magnet mechanism to attach to the iPad and the case, which when you close it all up, turns your iPad into a sort of tough book or rugged use laptop.

Before I go any further though, it’s important to get across that this is not anything close to a rugged laptop. There is no water or dust resistance here, and it’s worth repeating that the iPad is only rated to survive a fall of up to four feet. But, the keyboard/case combination will help your iPad stand up to tougher conditions than an iPad alone will endure.

The keyboard is on par with previous Brydge keyboards, which is to say the typing experience is quite good. Like previous keyboards, it connects to your iPad using Bluetooth. Battery life is still a question mark at this juncture, since I haven’t used the device long enough to need a recharge, but it’s been two weeks of light use thus far.

Some Brydge keyboards in the past have been made of aluminum, and this one is made of polycarbonate, so you lose some of the premium feel you might get from other keyboards. The keys feel a little looser than I’ve gotten on past keyboards as well, but I really like the travel and pitch.

Awesome typing

The keyboard on the Brydge is a great typing experience.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

Keep in mind that this keyboard is the same size as the iPad itself, which as far as keyboards go, is quite small. I don’t mind that at all. Even my fat sausage fingers can easily navigate the keys, to the extent where this feature was written with the Brydge 10.2 Max+ keyboard itself.

The keyboard also has a trackpad for using a mouse on your iPad, such as it is. Apple has done a good job integrating the mouse pointer onto iPadOS, but the software still isn’t super sure what to do with the pointer once it’s on the screen. The Apple Pencil is a much better implement for the iPad.

Speaking of the Apple Pencil, the Brydge 10.2 Max+ comes with a nylon loop at the top to hold the Apple Pencil in place. It’s not the most elegant solution, but it works. On my review unit, there’s a line of stitching that looks less than awesome on the loop. When I rotated the loop so the stitching was inside the case with the iPad, it bulged the case a bit in that area.

Double charged

The Brydge Max+ is thick and protects your iPad from up to 4 foot drops.
Adam Doud/Digital Trends

One other notable downside to this case is for left-handers out there. When the iPad is in the case, the TouchID button is on the right side of the screen, which is super convenient for 90% of the world; not so much for the other 10%. It’d be nice to see an arrangement where the iPad can work in either direction.

One other thing that could be a positive or negative is that the keyboard charges with USB-C. That’s a good thing, because that’s quickly becoming the standard. Meanwhile, the iPad charges with a lightning port. Of course, this isn’t really Brydge’s fault. The iPad should have a USB-C port, and this is just another opportunity for me to dunk on that.

Pricing, availability, and the competition

The Brydge Brydge 10.2 Max+ is available online at Amazon or from Brydge’s website. It retails for $100.

In my quest to find the best keyboard companion for the iPad, I’ve tried a few others, two of which really stand out. The first is Apple’s own iPad Smart keyboard. This keyboard attaches magnetically to the pogo pins on the base of your iPad (in landscape), and through a series of almost origami-like flips, can stand your iPad up while providing a good typing experience. How to go about folding the cover to get it to stand the iPad up takes some learning, but it’s not too bad once you’ve gotten it down pat.

The other is the Zagg Pro Keys keyboard which is a close second favorite for me. The typing experience is wonderful. Like the Brydge keyboard, the keyboard comes with a TPU iPad case with a molded slot for the Apple Pencil. The keyboard attaches magnetically to the case and closes to protect the iPad as well. Neither of those options feel as sturdy or durable as the Brydge keyboard though.

Overall, this is a great addition to one of the best tablets you can buy today. Thanks to Apple, this keyboard and case will work with any of the last three generations of iPad, which is pretty great. I like the extra durability you get out of the case, and Brydge solved all three of my pain points with the original keyboard, so I give this one high marks.

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