Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus keyboard hands-on: Skip the Type Cover and enjoy your Microsoft Surface Pro on your lap

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While I use a Google Pixelbook Go for all of my ZDNet writing, for my professional engineering work I rely on a Microsoft Surface Pro 6. I started using Surface Pro computers in 2014 with the Surface Pro 3 and it is clear that Microsoft has provided the perfect computer for me.

By default, I’ve partnered up the Surface Pro with a Microsoft Type Cover and those have worked very well over the years. While these are comfortable keyboards, there are limitations too. Brydge recently announced its latest Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus keyboard for Surface Pro 4, 5, 6, and 7 computers.

The new Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus is available for $149.99 and offers many improvements over the previous Brydge 12.3 keyboard I tested out with a Surface Pro 4 in 2017.

Also: First look: Surface Pro 7 follows a familiar path

Hardware

Brydge advertises up to six months of battery life for the Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus, but the first thing I did after opening up the retail package was connect the USB-C cable and charge it up to 100%. Obviously, I cannot provide feedback on battery life since I’ve only been using the keyboard for about 10 days. Maybe I’ll be able to report back on Twitter in a few months when I have to charge it up again.

The USB-C port is on the right side about a quarter of the way back from the front. There are four rubber feet on the bottom with rubber also positioned on the hinge so that you always have a good grip on a table even when rotating through the 180 degrees that the keyboard supports. The keyboard is constructed of aluminum on the bottom and four sides with matte plastic on the top, along with the glass trackpad.

The hinges are larger than they were on the older 12.3 keyboard and are designed to hold the Surface Pro securely. I regularly lifted up my Surface Pro 6 and the keyboard stayed attached without any issues. The hinges are designed to fit down into the top of the keyboard perfectly too.

When you rest your Surface Pro display onto the keyboard, everything matches up perfectly with similar design elements and colors to match. I have a black Surface Pro 6 and the black Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus matches as if they were made for each other, and they were.

The touchpad is a whopping 70% larger than the one on the Brydge 12.3 keyboard and after using this new one for just a couple of days I really question how I got by with that small one before. Brydge advertises the touchpad as the world’s first Bluetooth precision touchpad for Windows. Full gesture control is provided by the touchpad with two, three, and four finger gestures performing flawlessly.

The keyboard layout nearly identical to my Type Cover keyboard with a few always used keys being a bit larger (caps, left shift, tab, Ctrl, Fn), better separation of the arrow keys, a dedicated insert key, and the ability to toggle the touchpad on and off.

It was great to hear that these keyboards were designed in partnership with Microsoft through its Designed for Surface Program. Patrick Mendenall, Director, Designed for Surface program stated: 

The Designed for Surface program was created with the goal to drive high quality partner products that enhance the user’s experience with the Surface range. Brydge increases the reach of the Surface Pro and Go by offering customers the choice to use the device in a way that fits best with their lifestyle. These products are a reflection of the great things that happen when we work collaboratively to design something natively for Surface devices and is a true testament to why we have this program.

There are also three levels of backlighting with a single white LED color. A single button on the top rows controls backlighting, just like the Surface Type Cover keyboard.

One new feature of the keyboard is the active anti-microbial ingredient that inhibits the growth of microorganisms. With the coronavirus and other concerns about bacteria and viruses, it’s nice to see the keyboard you pound on all day is not contributing to the spread of these.

Better than the Microsoft Type Cover

Now that we’ve walked around the hardware and viewed the image gallery of the product, here are a few reasons I am making the move from the Surface Type Cover to the Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus.

  • Ability to use anywhere: The Type Covers are well designed, but the connection to the Surface Pro is designed for table or desk use. With the Surface Pro set into the hinges of the Brydge keyboard there are no limitations on where you can have a stable platform.
  • Smaller footprint: I think the integrated hinge on the Surface Pro computers are one of its best design features. However, when combined with a Type Cover keyboard the footprint required is huge. With the Brydge keyboard, the bottom of the keyboard is all you need to rest and use your Surface Pro.
  • Taller touchpad: The width of both keyboards is the same, but the Brydge one is 6.3mm taller. I know this isn’t much, but bigger is better when it comes to touchpad use.
  • Easier angle adjustment: The Brydge hinges support 0 tto 180 degree rotation of your Surface Pro. The Surface Pro hinge also supports a massive range for angling the display, but it is much faster and easier to just push the display back to your preferred angle for viewing or writing than it is to adjust the rear hinge and try not to scratch the table surface.

Also: Brydge 12.3 keyboard hands-on: Turn your Surface Pro into a more capable Surface Laptop for $150

Daily usage experiences

After charging up the keyboard, I set aside my Type Cover and connected the Brydge Pro 12.3 Pro Plus keyboard. Bluetooth 5.0 is integrated into the keyboard and so far the connection with my Surface Pro 6 has been reliable and consistent.

The keyboard weighs in at 680 grams, which is more than twice the 310 grams of the Surface Pro Type Cover. Since I’m working remotely most of the time, I prefer having a keyboard with a better typing experience even if it has more weight while resting on the desk.

In the morning, I flip open my Surface Pro 6 and within a couple of seconds the connection is automatically made with the Brydge keyboard. I enter my password and then get to work. The travel and quiet performance of this new Brydge keyboard has been perfect. My typing speed and accuracy have not suffered at all and I have nothing but positive daily usage to share.

Due to the design of this keyboard, I have been able to move my remote work sessions from my home office out to the back patio or upper balcony. The Brydge keyboard turns my Surface Pro 6 into a laptop experience, but I still have the full flexibility to quickly remove it and use it as a tablet.

If you are looking for a keyboard for your Surface Pro 4, 5, 6, or 7 then I highly recommend you consider the new Brydge 12.3 Pro Plus.

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