Xbox 360 Chatpad and headset hands-on, impressions

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So we snagged ourselves an Xbox 360 Messenger Kit (aka Chatpad + Chatpad headset), unboxed the hell out of it, and here’s what we think:

  • Blister packs suck. Microsoft, we’re sick of ’em.
  • The Chatpad is a little difficult to get on and off, but once engaged it fits perfectly on the controller (duh), and feels like a seamless extension. Unfortunately there are two awkwardly placed screw holes on the underside, but you’ll learn to ignore ’em.
  • Players with longer fingers may be annoyed, this thing kind of prevents finger-wraparound.
  • The keys are nice and tactile. And with the keyboard sounds the 360 makes in text entry you can be sure your typing is getting through. Still, thumb touch-typing on this is going to be almost out of the question for most, the thing is basically a straight up button grid.
  • The shift / caps / alt green and amber buttons were kind of wonky and took some getting used to. No big deal though.
  • It feels light at first, but after not too long it really starts to affect the balance of the controller, and could weigh you down a little. We suggest removing it when you don’t need it.
  • The headset now has an inline mute / volume switch (with clip), so now you have move your hand off the controller mid-play to adjust the audio. Super lame.
  • The Chatpad headset can be used on the controller without the Chatpad, but why would you want to? The old style headset is more efficient (see above) and sounds just as good.
  • In fact, while we’re on the topic, the original headset doesn’t use those two data paddles either — so we have no idea why they Chatpad didn’t just skip bundling a second headset and instead include a port that could accept the original kind. We suspect this was to raise the consumer price of the package without raising Microsoft’s cost much more. Either way, it’s sucky.

Should you buy one? Well, $30 isn’t really too crazy of a price for this thing, but we’d say if Microsoft releases a $20 version that doesn’t come bundled with the new headset (and can use the old headset kind), yeah, plunk down. Otherwise, we have a feeling only completionists and heavy message senders will really need this thing.


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