|Ease of Use|
When I first bought my Xbox 360 on launch day, I have to admit the thing I hated the most was registration. Using the unwieldy thumbstick to select text was simply an exercise in frustration. Since that time I have avoided the dreaded task of anything that dealt with text. I love MMO’s but decided to skip the Final Fantasy MMORPG when it first came out because of not being able to type in text efficiently.
Fast forward a few years, and the ability to use MSN messenger is here with a lot of other live functionality. I was browsing my local video game store and ran across the Xbox 360 messenger kit that comes with the Xbox 360 Chat Pad and a redesigned headset with microphone. Oh the delight I felt when I saw the proportionately designed keyboard that appeared to be able to snap onto my controller with ease. I would finally be able to use MSN Messenger on my Xbox 360.
Chat pad Xbox 360 Messenger Kit
The Messenger kit comes with the chat pad and a newly designed headset with microphone. First, let’s talk about the microphone for a second. The first thing you notice about the headset is how it feels in your hands. It is made out of a denser material than the original; however, this is pretty much where the improvement for the headset stops. I found the sound quality to be worse than the first headset, the volume and mute controls are moved up to the cord and is no longer on the pad itself, making volume control a chore. But, I digress; the headset is not really why you buy this kit. I mean come on; most of us have a wireless headset by now anyway.
On to what is really important in this review, the chat pad itself. Installing the chat pad took all of 5 seconds (literally), after popping out of the box the pad is affixed to the base of the controller (wired or wireless) and attaches with a satisfying snap. After installing the chat pad will not come off easily at all, I threw it around the room, dropped it from 6 feet and kicked it around a bit as my cat chased it, all in all the chat pad still functioned and had not come loose one bit.
The chat pad is designed well enough that it doesn’t interfere with my normal game play and feels very normal in your grip. The keyboard is backlit and there are green and orange “alts” for special characters. Overall the design was very well done and well thought out, this is plainly obvious in the simple fact that the form factor was preserved as such that the buttons on the keyboard are not so small that you would need itty bitty fingers to type accurately.
The real question is what the heck do I need a chat pad for anyway? Really, it is a good question, why you ask? Well the voice communication on the Xbox 360 is executed very well, there is no need for in game text typing like on a PC game, no post game texting of “GG” or “STFU,” and out of game you can send short voice messages. Umm why did I spend $30.00 for this again?
The main reason you will want to have the chat pad is this: MSN Messenger and an easy way to type in a character profile or modify you Xbox Live profile. That is it for now; there is no web browser, no email capabilities or anything else that needs text for that matter yet. But, as Jeff Bell and many others have stated, community and utility is big for the future of the Xbox systems, so I will be prepared and happy that I do not have to use the stick to type for the moment.