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Brydge’s SP Max Plus is a cost effective tank of type cover replacement

Brydge’s latest keyboard case for the Surface Pro 8 is a bit different than the company’s previous versions. The $229 SP Max Plus includes a rugged, backlit keyboard and rugged, detachable case for Microsoft’s current-gen Surface tablet — all with an antimicrobial coating. Importantly, it works with a physical connection rather than a wireless one. Not connecting via Bluetooth (typically) that Quirky, but you don’t have to worry about that here.

The two pieces connect via Brydge’s new proprietary, very strongly magnetized SecureConnect pogo pins, which allow the keyboard to run off the tablet’s battery once attached, instead of needing to be recharged on occasion.

Back image of the Bridge SP Max Plus keyboard case.

The SP Max Plus needs a USB-C port to power its keyboard, but the Surface Pro 8 has holes for its webcam and other ports.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

The SecureConnect pogo pins that push power out of the tablet and into the keyboard require a pretty big sacrifice: one of the Surface Pro 8’s two USB-C ports. On the inside of the SP Max Plus case is the USB-C plug you need Be careful Align to insert into the tablet, so you have to be doubly sure you’re not misplacing it (so you don’t rush and remove the easily missed and very sensitive USB-C plug in an instant, like I did). Note: This is my fault, and I’m not a product designer, but it was immediately clear that a better solution for the bridge would have been to include a low-profile USB-C insert that permanently resides and transmits on the Surface Pro 8. force when it is flush against the case.

The inside of the Bridge SP Max Plus shows where its USB-C jack is after the author accidentally broke it.

There’s a USB-C jack here, but it shut off cleanly when I inserted the Surface Pro 8 incorrectly.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

For giving up one of your precious USB-C ports that can be used for data transfer, charging or connecting to a monitor, Brydge’s SP Max Plus gives you very little in return. Actually, it’s keyboard functionality only. I’d be happy if it at least returned the port next to the keyboard for charging, but that’s not what you get here. There’s a spot near the keyboard where you can store the Surface Slim Pen 2, but you can’t even charge it in the cradle, which is disappointing.

The SecureConnect mechanism appears to be a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. I asked Brydge if its method for connection is better than Microsoft’s. Bridge spokeswoman Hannah Matthews said to the edge “Our point of connection (SecureConnect) isn’t better than Microsoft’s type of cover (which uses Fang), but it’s equivalent.” OK then.

A close-up image of the SecureConnect pogo pins on the back of the Brydge SP Max Plus keyboard case.

A close-up shot of Bridge’s SecureConnect pogo pins.
Photo by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge

If you’re looking for the ultimate in protection for your trusty Surface Pro 8, the SP Max Plus might make sense. And the loss of a USB-C port isn’t a deal breaker for some. But if you use Microsoft’s latest tablet for creative uses or don’t want to give up any ports, this probably isn’t the right Brydge product for you.

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