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Brydge's latest iPad keyboard cases can laptop-ify your tablet

New software and a 10.2-inch iPad trackpad case aim to compete with Logitech

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Brydge's new 10.2-inch iPad keyboard case (left) and the iPad Pro model (right), which also has new firmware on the way.

Scott Stein/CNET

Converting an iPad into something close to a laptop is possible if you have a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, or a case that can add both. Brydge's newest keyboard case for the entry-level 10.2-inch iPad, called the 10.2 Max Plus, aims to be an alternative to Logitech's Combo Touch keyboard case. It's coming out in late March, and I have an early version I've been trying out.

Brydge made trackpad-enabled keyboard cases for the iPad last year, but the company's touchpad firmware ended up feeling a lot glitchier than the solutions made by Apple and Logitech, which connect with Smart Connector ports on the iPads. Brydge is updating the firmware on its Brydge Pro Plus keyboards, which use Bluetooth. I've tried an early version of the firmware on a 12.9-inch 2020 iPad Pro and so far, the results are a lot better. The keyboard feels the same as always, but the multi-touch trackpad now seems to function as well as Apple's Magic Keyboard case, or Logitech's accessories do.

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The Brydge 10.2 Max Plus can be detached: there's a back case for the iPad, and the keyboard works over Bluetooth.

Scott Stein/CNET

Brydge's firmware update will work on the Brydge Pro Plus keyboard for the iPad Pro released last year, and also on the new 10.2-inch Max Plus keyboard. If you haven't tried multitouch trackpads on an iPad, it's surprisingly versatile. There are a bunch of Mac-like gestures (pinch-to-zoom, scrolling and swipe-back-to-the-home-screen among them) that I use a lot when putting the iPad in a laptop-like work mode.

Brydge's iPad Pro and regular iPad keyboard cases are pretty different, though. The Brydge Pro Plus keyboard, released last year, is made of metal and has a more MacBook-sized key layout. It's weighted to feel like a laptop for lap-typing, too. The keyboard attaches using little rubber feet, however, which feel more delicate and I worry could put strain on the edges of the iPad's frame. It's also a little difficult to easily attach and detach, and won't bend back for easy access to a tablet mode.

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In the Brydge 10.2 Max Plus, the iPad turns into an almost-laptop.

Scott Stein/CNET

The new 10.2-inch iPad case design is plastic, and has more compressed keys. But it comes with a case made by Otterbox which protects the iPad with a snap-on back covering, making it a more durable option. The iPad with case on slots into plastic brackets with magnets on the keyboard to turn it into laptop mode: When docked it can fold shut or be opened at multiple angles. It's definitely more laptop-like than Logitech's bulkier case, which needs to be laid down on a table or desk.

The 10.2-inch Max case will cost $129, which is a little less expensive than Logitech's keyboard case for the entry-level iPad.

I'll reserve more judgement for a full review, but Brydge's newest options look like they're about as good as Apple's or Logitech's, which is great news for anyone looking for more variety in iPad keyboard/trackpad accessories this year.