New, lighter BrydgeAir keyboard aims to bring laptop functionality to Apple's iPad Air

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Popular iPad keyboard maker Brydge is now accepting preorders for a new model designed specifically for Apple's iPad Air, bringing not only physical backlit keys, but also upgraded stereo speakers and a lighter aluminum design.

The new BrydgeAir is scheduled to begin shipping in October. Preorders for the device are currently available at a discounted price of $150 for the first 1,000 units, and it will eventually retail for $199.

Taking a cue from Apple's popular MacBook lineup, the BrydgeAir is made from a single piece of aluminum. It's also 35 percent lighter than the previous Brydge keyboard, matching the svelte design of the full-size iPad Air.

As such, the BrydgeAir is only compatible with the iPad Air, and will not work with previous-generation models. For those users on legacy iPad models, the heavier Brydge+ is available in polycarbonate for $79, aluminum and speakerless for $89, or with speakers for $99.

Like its predecessor, the BrydgeAir boasts a simple clip-in design that allows the iPad to be easily secured or removed from the keyboard dock. When in place and connected over Bluetooth, it turns Apple's iPad Air into a laptop-style form factor, complete with physical backlit keyboard, higher quality stereo speakers, and a 180-degree viewing angle.

The keyboard also features a full row dedicated to shortcuts such as Spotlight search, the Photos app, cut, copy, paste, media playback, volume, and screen lock.

Scheduled to ship in October, the BrydgeAir will arrive around the time Apple is expected to unveil its next-generation iPad models. However, rumors so far this year have suggested that Apple's iPad lineup will not undergo any significant design changes, as the company is instead reportedly focused on bringing the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to its 2014 models.