Microsoft’s Surface Pro range hasn’t been doing too badly for itself. As well as selling a few million units per year – enough to turn what was a loss-making range into a profitable one – it’s succeeded in its mission of redefining the leading edge of portable design by promoting the concept of a tablet with purpose-made detachable keyboard.
The Type Cover Microsoft released with the Surface Pro 4 is an improvement on previous versions but it still has a bouncy feel and is awkward to use when perched on your lap. This is where Brydge comes in. The company has been making an aluminium keyboard for iPad for a while which features a custom hinge. This lets you slot the tablet into the hinge and effectively turns it into a laptop you can open, close and tilt the screen on. Because of the weight distribution in the keyboard you can even use it in your lap.
Now, the company has created a similar version for Microsoft’s Surface range which I had some time with at CES 2017. If you’ve used a Brydge before you’ll know exactly what to expect: an aluminium, weighty keyboard that pairs over Bluetooth and offers keys with better travel and feel than the Type Cover. As with the Type Cover, there’s a decent-sized trackpad, too.
The version I looked at was pre-production so the finish wasn’t quite as good as it will be when it ships but overall it looks, feels and performs nicely. It’ll set you back £150, and is expected to ship in the spring.
I found it a better experience than the Type Cover if what you’re looking for is something that’s more laptop-like, although you’ll need to pull the tablet out of the cover rather than folding it round if you want to use your Surface Pro to draw or write on. It makes the Surface Pro a little bit more like the Surface Book, so if that’s your preferred mode of working the Brydge is a good option.
Interestingly, Brydge also plans to offer a version with a built-in 128GB SSD for around $US250, which could be a good option for anyone who bought a Surface Pro with 128GB of storage and is now feeling the strain of fitting everything in.