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Brydge Keyboard vs Studio Neat Canopy for 11-inch iPad Pro

My first immediate inital impression of the Brydge keyboard for the 11-inch iPad Pro is that it feels like the keyboard is too small and it won’t work out, not that I have huge hands or anything but because I am a pretty damn fast touch typist and the size of the keys makes me just a little bit too aware of what key I’m hitting, like I have to be aware of aiming my fingertips just a little bit more than I do on a full size keyboard.

Even though the Apple Magic keyboard, coupled with the Canopy case from Studio Neat has some shortcomings of its own that I detail below, the Brydge is not for me and I am going to send it back.

Keyboards compare

 

I can still type pretty quickly on the Brydge but make more errors on it and it just feels cramped a bit compared to the Apple Magic keyboard that I usually type on.

That said, with the Brydge I can sit on my couch with my feet up and the whole ipad/Keyboard combination balances great on my lap, way better than the Studio Neat case coupled with the magic keyboard. The Brydge feels so much more stable.

That’s an overall feeling about the Brydge keyboard: it just feels solid and stable. It is much heavier than I expected, which no doubt contributes to its stability on my lap.

And the little clamps on the side that hold the iPad feel much more substantial than i expected and the resistance on the hinge is also really spectacular. Not sure how well/long that resistance will hold up but for now it ‘s great.

Compared to the Studio Neat case, the Brydge feels like a much more solid and stable solution (especially when using it on my lap) and were it not for its cramped size, I would adopt it in a heartbeat. In fact, if you have a 12.9-inch iPad Pro I couldn’t see using it without the Brydge keyboard. But on the 11, it is too cramped.

Here’s a quick photo to show the size comparison:

IMG 0661

Depends on how you use your iPad

If you have an 11-inch iPad Pro, it really comes down to what you mostly use it for. Shopping? Browsing RSS feeds? Quick emails? The Brydge is absolutely your best bet.

But for me the iPad is a portable writing device. I love the distraction-free writing in iA Writer, especially in portrait mode with the Apple Magic keyboard. It is a focus, writing output machine with nothing standing between me and my thoughts.

Downsides of the Studio Neat + Apple Magic Keyboard

The downside of course is that the Studio Neat solution is not nearly as stable on my lap as the Brydge keyboard, but it is stable enough. Over the past few weeks I’ve figured out how to keep it mostly from wobbling off of my legs when I sit on the couch.

The other downside of the Studio Neat setup is that while it protects your keyboard, it does little to provide any protection for your iPad. So I continue to just toss my iPad in my briefcase with the Studio Neat case and hope for the best. That, and when I’m walking around the office at work from meeting to meeting it feels sort of weird to have to undo the case and setup the iPad on it at the start of each meeting.

And, importantly, I need to always remember to turn off the keyboard before I fold it up lest the F8 key gets pressed by the folding case (and it’s always the F8 key) which is, of course, the Play button and The Cars You Might Think starts playing. I’ve ended many a meeting over the past few weeks with my iPad playing that song as folks filter out of the conference room.

My iPad is a portable writing device for me and the difference between writing on the Apple Magic Keyboard and the Brydge keyboard is night and day.

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iOS gestures

It’s been a couple of weeks now with the iPad Pro and I’m still struggling to understand gestures.

I never use my iPad without an external keyboard and have quickly become adept at most of the useful key combinations to navigate iOS. And to be clear, iOS is pretty keyboard accessible. As someone who has mostly lived in terminal windows and emacs, being able to navigate around using keyboard shortcuts (some of which come directly from emacs like ctrl-a/e for beginning/end of line, etc.) is really wonderful.

But there’s no mouse at all with this setup. Which at times leaves me with no option but to actually touch the iPad screen. And every time i reach out to the screen I recognize that I do not know what the hell i’m doing. Every time I touch the surface of my iPad i realize I am barely scratching the surface of what I can do with gestures.

Kirk McElhearn has a great suggestion today that iOS should have something like the buried trackpad gesture videos in System preferences that exist on MacOS.
The closest thing to actual help I can find on the Apple website is this guide to using multi-tasking gestures. And I still can’t get them to work right consistently.