a bit monkish.
For those in ministry who find themselves using their iPads more as a notebook computer than as a tablet, the BridgeAir keyboard is one option to enhance that experience. Before we get started, take note: This beautiful keyboard isn't cheap. It will set you back $170. That's about a third of the price of an iPad Air 2. It's tough to justify such a purchase, especially when a pastor thinks of how this will appear to laypersons. However, the technology in this amazing keyboard is worth a look.
The first thing you'll notice when you take the keyboard out of the box is just how well made it appears to be. It has a solid aluminum construction that looks like something that could have come out of Cupertino. The keys themselves have a nice bounce and solid feel. The keyboard is noticeably narrower than the one on a 11" Macbook Air, but your fingers get used to it very quickly.
The BrydgeAir connects wirelessly via Bluetooth in two ways: First, with the keyboard. Second, with the keyboard's speakers (yes, speakers; but more on that later). Connecting my iPad Air 2 was a breeze. The iPad slips into two padded hinges with rubber grips. The fit is snug, but not overly tight. I have no fear of the keyboard slipping out of the grips when I lift the unit by the iPad. The keyboard has designated keys for Siri, keyboard backlight, and media controls. The company claims the rechargeable keyboard battery will last three months. Time will tell.
As I use the keyboard, it works so much like a laptop's keyboard I find myself looking for the trackpad from time to time. I keep forgetting that my iPad is a touchscreen, so a trackpad isn't needed. Using this keyboard/iPad combination to take notes in meetings, to work on sermons, or to compose emails has been effortless. I can't say enough about its effectiveness. When you close the top, the iPad goes into hibernation.
What don't I like? For starters, the speakers. They produce a tinny sound that is, in fact, of less quality than the iPad's internal speakers. I disabled the bluetooth connection and doubt I'll ever use them. Another gripe (if you can actually call it a gripe), is the weight of the keyboard. I haven't weighed it, but when attached, it more than doubles the weight of the iPad. It definitely adds some heft to my very thin iPad Air 2. On the other hand, that weight does add some stability to the iPad.
Can it replace a notebook computer? I've been using my iPad with the BrydgeAir for about a week and I haven't missed my notebook. It's amazing what a tablet like an iPad can do. With a keyboard, it only enhances the experience even more. I can't imagine needing my notebook after using it.
Is it worth the price? This is an amazing keyboard for your iPad. It has style, quality, and function that sets it apart from other iPad keyboards on the market. Plus, it's amazingly thin. However, less expensive iPad keyboards are everywhere. That's where I have an issue for those of us in pastoral ministry. We model stewardship of resources to those in the congregations we serve, and I'm not sure this sets a good example.*
Should pastors drive a Mercedes when a Honda can get us where we need to go?
(c) 2015 Michael C. Voigts
* Disclosure: I was sent this keyboard to review. I didn't purchase it myself.
I'm a follower of Christ serving as an Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Asbury Theological Seminary.