We're a big fan of the 7 and 8-inch form factor tablets here at T3.com, which accomplish almost everything that larger tablets do but in a more cost effective and portable package. The one thing they are not ideal for however is delivering any kind of hybrid, Surface Book-esque experience, with the smaller screen and lack of quality pairable keyboards making extended typing sessions a chore. The BrydgeMini Bluetooth keyboard, which is clearly a product looking to address this issue, therefore piqued our interest here at T3.com. The question is, does it deliver?
The BrydgeMini comes in a white, front swing-door opening cardboard box. In the box you get the keyboard itself, as well as a Micro USB charging cable and pair of alternate, black shims to slot into the keyboard's hinges (they are mounted with white, silicone shims out of the box). The keyboard's body is made from 100 per cent aluminum and comes in gold, silver and grey. The keyboard's hinges rotate 180 degrees and its keys can be backlit, allowing for use in low-light environments. Battery life is estimated at up to 3 months between charges. The BrydgeMini measures in at 8.47x5.7x0.75 inches. The whole package costs £99.99 retail and the keyboard works with the iPad mini, mini 2 and mini 3.
First up, there's no escaping the fact that the all-aluminium body is really rather nice. The cold, clean lines of the aluminium look and feel high quality, while the thinness of the board adds little in terms of overall size to the iPad mini. The body is pleasingly heavy too, with the aluminium keyboard adding a total of 300g to the mini's 331g. Combined that 631g ranks in favourably compared to, say, the 11-inch MacBook Air's 1.08kg. The matt black keys feel cool to the touch too and fit in well against the gold - our BrydgeMini's colour scheme - aluminium body.
Connecting the BrydgeMini to the iPad mini is straightforward. You flick a small button on the front left of the keyboard to on, press the nearby pairing button and then, under the Bluetooth settings menu on the iPad mini, simply select the keyboard from the menu. You can tell whether or not the keyboard is on by a small blue LED light located just under the 'enter' key. If this light flashes continuously you also know that the keyboard is running on less than 10 per cent power. Equally, a small red light located under the right 'shift' key indicates when the keyboard is charging via Micro USB cable. The charging port for the BrydgeMini is located on the rear-left hand side.
The typing experience is solid and we were able to use the keyboard for lengthy periods of time without serious issue. Despite this, however, we still made more typing mistakes than usual due to the slightly narrower core typing window. We're guessing though that this is something that could be mitigated with long-term usage. Slotting the iPad mini into the keyboard is also straightforward, with the shimmed hinges holding it securely throughout rotation, and twin raised rubber stoppers located on the front left and right top of the board preventing the mini's screen from coming into contact with the keys or body. The whole paired package is also easy to carry around, feeling like you are holding simply two iPad minis back to back.
You should buy this if…
You're looking to bring a laptop typing experience to your iPad mini. You're loaded.
You shouldn't buy this if…
You don't need to type for extended periods of time on your iPad mini. There are plenty of other sound and cheaper Bluetooth keyboards on the market that will work for you just fine if this is the case.
What would we change if we could
The price, which we feel is - despite the premium build - still slightly too expensive to make it a no-brainer.
The T3.com verdict
The BridgeMini is a high-end, premium Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad mini. It looks great, feels great and delivers a really solid typing experience that, while not delivering full-on laptop, definitely evokes it well. We're not sure we'd spend £100 on any Bluetooth keyboard here at T3.com, however if the price doesn't make you balk and you sit in that niche where an iPad mini and keyboard beats out carrying round a full-blown laptop, then the BrydgeMini will certainly not disappoint.
- Read more: iPad mini 3 review