Brydge 12.3 Pro + first impressions and review

TLDR: Really pleased with this, a solid 8 out of 10.

[EDIT: wow I didn’t realise it was such a long article… all typed on the Brydge… so if length is anything to go by… :wink: :smiley: ]

Here’s my initial first impressions of the Brydge 12.3 Pro+ keyboard based purely on unboxing and about an hour’s set up/ play with it. I’ll follow this up with more thoughts and happy to answer any questions, but hey, a keyboard is a keyboard right? :wink:

Intro

Like many V (gen 1) owners, I too suffered from a glitchy keyboard which ultimately failed. I tried to use a third party bluetooth keyboard which was fine if I was at my desk but it meant that I couldn’t really carry the V around with me. I tried and ended up scratching my V’s screen coating which was annoying!

I also grew a little bit tired of the kick stand form factor since it meant I could use the V comfortably on my lap. Sad to say, but if I had my time again, I probably wouldn’t have gone with this form factor and instead go with a more traditional clamshell or convertible.

So looking into options to address this I came across the Brydge. It seemed perfect and it would meet my needs, but the initial reviews were mixed, with reports complaining about about price, the additional weight and in particular the trackpad. This was enough to put me off, but then I heard that a version 2 was coming out. I waited for this and after reading some initial reviews that (largely) suggested the trackpad was fixed… I took the plunge!

Initial impressions

Unboxing - nothing fancy. It took a few days to arrive and cost 15 quid for shipping.

Accessories - The keyboard comes with a USB C to USB C cable for charging which would be perfect for the V you’d think, but sadly the ports are on the wrong side so that means using a separate charger or a USB A to USB C adaptor. Obviously it’s way too early to say anything about battery life, but the general view seems to be that it’s more like a monthly affair than anything more regular.

Trying it on - I didn’t see any additional rubber bits for the hinges so I threw caution to the wind and slipped it on… and it fit very nicely! I believe the V is slightly thicker by fractions of a mm than a Surface Pro 4, but it works. Checking for any light bleed caused by excessive pressure and I can’t see any. The hinges are a good 2-3 mm away from the V’s viewable screen on both sides, so no issues with blocking the screen. The bottom of the V is flush, the sides about 1mm out each and the top of the V is worst with again maybe 2-3 mm of the V jutting out from the keyboard (see pics). Not ideal I know, but I can live with it. Note that flipping the V down on keyboard won’t put the V into standby.

More on the hinge - Lifting it up by the V and giving it a few shakes the Brydge stays on fine. Lift it up by the Brydge however with the keyboard flat to the V (so it’s all on one plane) and the V’s weight does mean that it will slip out if you hold it downwards. Also on one plane, holding it horizontally and the hinge will stop the V from going beyond 180 degrees. These slightly unrealistic scenarios aside, holding it by the keyboard with the V angled as you would you use it (i.e. about 100 degrees) and the hinge has enough tension to hold the V in place. Tapping the touch screen doesn’t result in much wobble. Note finally that because the kickstand is clamped down by the hinges, you can’t access the micro SD card slot without taking the V out, which thankfully is quite easy to do when you want to.

Typing - initial impressions are a little mixed. Despite buying on in the UK, the keyboard has a US layout, i.e. there is an “@” above the Number 2. A little annoying but no biggie. I kind miss the Oops button haha! The keys spacing is generally comfortable and I find myself typing accurately and comfortably and have noticed zero missed keys - the first gen had critique from some who said it would not register some key strokes unless you hit the middle of the keys. The travel feels pretty good, fairly standard for a laptop and more than the thin type cover keyboard keys. They did feel a little rubbery initially, but that feeling is passing and the benefit is that it is nice and quiet. Final gripe so far is that the menu button is a little too close to the left arrow, so I’ve hit that accidentally a few times as I like to use CTRL and arrow keys a lot.

Trackpad - very pleased to say it’s a nice experience (for me!) but not perfect. Initially it felt very quick, a bit quicker than I would normally have. This is accentuated by the smooth surface of the pad that is very slippy. Annoyingly I couldn’t adjust the pointer speed through the mouse settings (I’ve queried this with Brydge). I also tried to focus on the smoothness of this trackpad being this is a bluetooth device so I tried drawing some lines in paint. See below for pics, but it’s clear that there are some micro jitters in the lines which don’t happen with my old bluetooth keyboard. Needless to say the built in trackpad on my work laptop had zero jitters (so it’s not my fault! haha). So if you’re going to draw or do anything precise, you need something other than this trackpad (which I suspect you’d do anyway). As for me, it’s absolutely fine, responsive and lag free for general web browsing and navigation. The multi-finger gestures are pretty quick and accurate. Left and right clicks give a nice click and the top of the trackpad has no give.

Balance - see pics below, but the V despite its weight does go back pretty far before it will lift up the keyboard. I nearly forget that this isn’t a regular laptop as I’ve been typing this sat on my sofa. Note that because the screen is top heavy it will topple earlier than a regular laptop, but once you put your hands on to start typing that naturally will hold it down.

Looks - I think this looks really smart. I got the black one to better match the V and in indoor lighting they look the same. However under brighter light they are different shades, see pic below where I use my phone’s flash to try and highlight this. Talking of lights, I find the backlit leds just a little uneven in the way they shine out at you from an angle.

Feel - the top of the keyboard is a matte plastic and hides finger prints well. The underside feels metallic and is a nice complement to the V. Whilst a bit heavy, it has a rugged solid feel and I love that my V can be protected once again by the keyboard. One bit I’m not so keen on is the rubber bits. Occasionally my hand brushes against the rubber stoppers that stop the screen from hitting the keys when closed. Also the rubber feet on the keyboard and hinge are soft and when they graze on my trousers there’s just a little too much give that makes me worry about durability. Here’s hoping they’ll be ok! General quality otherwise feels very nice, with matte keys that have a very subtle indent.

Final thoughts - I am super happy that I bought this! It has rekindled my use of the V because it no longer just sits on my office desk, but it has become portable again. It really is as if I have bought a new laptop with a touchscreen, but for a fraction of the price. In today’s age when we’re chasing the “next shiny toy” all the time, investing a bit to get more use out of our main computing devices can only be a good thing. Let’s see how things pan out as time goes by, feel free to drop me your questions and I’ll do my best to answer.

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Thanks a lot for sharing your impressions mate!
Just wanted to ask, in picture 5 (the one with the side view) is that a depiction of how far you can tilt the screen before it starts to topple over?
I am thinking of getting this one as well since I am not a big fan of the alcantara finish on the official keyboard.

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Terrific review.
Brydge should have given you a free keyboard for your review xD
Now that I’m thinking about it, maybe EVE should do it. This is probably the best or only way to make the original V working again

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Lol yes spot on! I got too lazy to annotate all the pics :wink:

For your pleasure here’s a pic at the angle that it did topple over!

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Thanks dude.

Yeah I agree that the type cover keyboard on the original V is sadly susceptible to a design fault judging by other comments on the community. Sadly also the new Vs keyboard won’t be backwards compatible. So yeah third party is the way to go.

2 days in and I’m still very happy. There was a momentary issue with lagginess in the trackpad which I corrected disconnecting and reconnecting the bluetooth connection, but it hasn’t reappeared again.

Brydge are in touch with me re the jitters issue and also the pointer speed, so far not much to report back, possibly because the keyboard was only released very recently.

I’m happy to continue to be the guinea pig for this and will let you know how I get on.

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Perfect, haha! I think this should be more than sufficient for how I use the V. And yeah I did kind of expect a few glitches specially with the trackpad but I feel this one should be a lot more durable. My alcantara is really not aging well at the moment and looks very worn out even though I have owned this for less than 6 months.

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Mixed news re the two trackpad issues I had.

Firstly the jitters seems to have gotten a bit better after clearing the bluetooth cache and re pairing. Still not perfect but for a trackpad it’s not an issue for me any more.

Secondly the cursor speed remains fast and unable to be adjusted. Brydge support came back to me to say that their device was specifically designed for the surface and are offering no further support. Overall I’m kinda used to it now so I can live with it, but whilst it does irk me somewhat, these I guess are the pains of buying into a niche start up device.

Other than that a couple of weeks in no other issues I’m happy to say. The bottom row of the keyboard I have noticed is unusually wider than the other rows, strange but again not an issue for my experience.

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Ah I see. Thanks a lot for the updates mate :blush: I think based on what you have to say I might wait for a bit longer and stick with my V keyboard till it lasts. The trackpad is one aspect of this one I have been very impressed with since day one so switching so early might feel like a small step back

Ok, finally fixed the cursor speed issue! Turns out that there are cursor speed settings under the Mouse and the Touchpad menus in Settings and I was (in hindsight stupidly) using the Mouse menu. Using the Touchpad menu, it works fine! :slight_smile:

Ahem… I blame Microsoft for being too confusing rather than my user error! :wink:

Edit: oh and to be fair to Brydge support, it was they who provided this solution, so I wasn’t totally left in the lurch by them. Their concern was that using this keyboard in the V when it wasn’t designed for it might cause damage. But I believe that is a small risk and one I’m willing to take to restore and enhance my use of the V.

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Oh, thats good to know :slight_smile:
Do they think it might damage it coz the V is thicker then the Surface? I think that might be the only parameter that can affect things like this right?

From what I’ve heard from V owners who had the original brydge, there have been no issues. So far I can’t see any excess pressure in the form of the light bleed or anything. Hopefully all good!

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Good to hear mate! Hopefully it stays that way as well :slight_smile:

Hi all, about 3 weeks later, noticed a few things that I thought I’d share with you to inform any purchasing decision.

  1. The keyboard uses Bluetooth 5 and I noticed that when I pair my Cleer Flow II which uses Bluetooth 4.2 and then listen to something (I was using YouTube), I got this “drifting” effect with the trackpad, like the cursor was skating on ice. Stopping YouTube corrected it. Pairing a Bluetooth 5 set of headphones and there was no issue. Maybe just something to note that the trackpad can be sensitive to whatever else is paired to it. Typing on the keys I didn’t notice anything.

  2. Battery life has been excellent. It hasn’t gone down past 70% after light use in 3 weeks. For fun I charged it using the V charger anyway and it charged pretty quickly, though wouldn’t go past 97%.

  3. The hinges can be a a tiny bit slippy. The V will not slip out easily or anything like that, but it can side a few mm that is easy to push back and realign. Probably a good thing since some have been concerned about excessive pressure on the V since V is a little (about 0.4mm I think) thicker than a Surface Pro.

Overall I am still very happy with this keyboard and how it has transformed my use of the V back into a regular laptop, which seeing as I’m typing on the sofa right now, I realise I prefer to the kick stand form factor.

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Hi all

A few months in now and I thought I’d give an update as there is definitely something slightly buggy that may put you off.

Every now and again, the keyboard seems to disconnect and I have to either turn bluetooth on and off, or redo the pairing. After that it’s fine, but this may happen once a week or so.

Less extreme, but I am finding it a little slow to reconnect after the V goes to sleep or is restarted, i.e. it takes anywhere from a few seconds up to 10 seconds to pair up it feels.

It doesn’t like it when there are other bluetooth devices paired up. The responsiveness on the mouse becomes laggy with a “skating on ice” effect. Re-paring seems to be the best way to correct this and it’s all nice and responsive again.

In summary, whilst I still value this keyboard and the benefit it brings to make the V into more of a normal laptop form factor, there are downsides with this being a bluetooth keyboard. In particular, other (totally separate) keyboards I’ve used that have a dongle have none of these bluetooth bugs that I’ve experienced.

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Thanks a lot for the long term update! I am sorry to hear you have seen more problems coming up over time. I guess that is just something between Windows and Bluetooth that we can’t fix. In that case I hope to run my normal V keyboard as long as I can and just move to a new laptop eventually when it dies coz these issues do seem like they will drive me crazy haha

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Yeah fair enough. As an aside I am also taking up the option of fixing my keyboard with a more durable solution as that will be a better portable solution in the future. See other posts in the community about the amazing work community members have done to offer this.

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Its not just Windows tbh. I use a BT keyboard with an iPad, and the experience is less than ideal

mini update: call this user error on my part, but going through my BT settings on my V I realise that I have quite a few paired devices that don’t need to be. e.g. my phone is paired because of all the efforts between Microsoft and Samsung to partner up, but tbh they’re useless to me. Anyhow, cleaning up my BT settings has improved my experience a little, e.g. faster pairing from sleep and the trackpad responsiveness is better.