Last night's game at the Bridge Spot
had a different electronic scoring box that they were trying out, the BridgePad
. These are smaller and flatter than the BridgeMate
(I can hide the BridgePad under my convention card) and with a larger, backlit screen (in "traveler" mode you get sixish hands at a time, not two). The director mumbled something about being able to do more on the server end with them, which sounded a little more like there was better server-side software than that the capabilities of the boxes were actually any different.
I think overall I prefer the BridgeMate. The BridgePad's "NEXT" button that gets used for everything is the bottom-left, not bottom-right, button, and that feels counter-intuitive; the 2x5 digit layout rather than a 3x3 keypad layout also is a little harder to use. Entering a contract BridgePad makes you push "NEXT" one more time (3, spades, NEXT, N/S) than BridgeMate. I didn't actually find the display that much better, and I heard some complaints going around about the smaller size. BridgeMate explicitly prompts North to have either East or West push "OK" to verify the score, and if you're new to this class of electronic scoring device I could see not realizing that was the correct mechanic with BridgePad.
This doesn't mean that the technology is a bad idea, and both products claim to integrate with ACBLscore
(at the Bridge Spot this means the director mostly sits around at the end of the night hitting "reload"). If the larger screen is the BridgePad's big feature the client software could make much better use of it; I think BridgeMate has a better physical form factor and is somewhat more usable on a couple of axes.