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Xbox360 Chat Pad

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Written by HoTHiTTeR on Tuesday, September 11 2007

White, sturdy, responsive in clutch situations. No I'm not starting my autobiography, I'm actually writing a review about Microsoft's new Messenger Kit for the Xbox 360. Priced at $29.99, this one niche product is looking to force its way into your home and attach itself to your #1 controller. In the box; one chatpad peripheral and one newly designed microphone. This isn't your ordinary launch pack in mic though, I'll get into what's changed in a bit. Let’s dive right in, and get to know our new Qwerty friend.

If you're anything like me and you're one of the hundreds of millions of people that text message on their cell phones, you're going to feel right at home with the Messenger kit’s chatpad. This Qwerty designed keyboard feels like a Blackberry's bigger brother. Each key represents a letter of the alphabet but also has sub-key functions by pressing either the corresponding green or orange buttons to select the sub-character of your choice. I found it rare that I wanted to use an apostrophe with all the "l00k n00b, just f1r3!!!!11" style chatter being thrown about - but to each his own. This is the first time we've really been able to flex the power of built in Windows Live messaging on the Xbox 360, considering most people didn't want to run a fantastically long USB extension cord to their favorite keyboard and message friends whilst playing Rainbow Six. Needless to say, while we'll miss that snake of USB cables at GR, this certainly makes chatting while either in-game or just checking out demos on the marketplace a simple task. I can’t stress this enough, it's remarkably easy to get up and running; no drivers, no additional software. Did I mention this little gem is backlit? Well, it is! You didn't really think Microsoft would have forgotten us in-the-bedroom-while-the-girlfriend-is-asleep gamers did you? This was the perfect feature to round out the product.

Alright, the bulk of the review is over but we still have business to tend to. The included microphone, I said it wasn't your launch mic, and here's why - 2.5mm standard connector. Before I get into the array of 3rd party products you can now compare mic2.0 with, let me tell you why you shouldn't. Mic 2.0 is just the standard launch microphone w/ a new connecting port, but it also has a new inline volume knob and mute button. We're also treated to a lapel clip, but I found it unwilling to snap to my t-shirt. No biggie. When compared to the Plantronics X10 and X20, I didn't see any build quality or performance quality differences that would warrant a switch. Stick with Microsoft, they know what’s up.

Let's wrap this up; I've got some chatting to do. For $29.99 you're going to get a solid keyboard attachment that won't distract you while you play, and will give you the ability to 'pwn n00bs' via Messenger while in-game. You'll also get the packed in mic2.0 which utilizes the new connector. Even if your just considering getting a new headsets, they run $19.99; pitch in an extra $10 and you'll get hooked up with Microsoft's newest addition to the Xbox 360 family, the Xbox Live Messenger Kit.

Note from DM: I have the Chat Pad as well, and I just want to add something that is another great feature of this unit. For those of you who play in clan matches on XBox Live, the Chat Pad is indispensible. It takes all of 5 seconds to use the Chat Pad to type messages like "FLAG 1" or "DEFEND" and send it. This is as opposed to the 20-30 seconds it would take to do the same with a voice message, not to mention the 15 seconds the voice message takes to listen to. Just another great feature of this neat unit. And for those of you wondering if the mini-kb gets in the way of your fingers, I can say that it does not. If you have huge hands you might have an issue, but otherwise it is more than fine. It also adds a nice bit of weight to the pad, which many gamers, including me, prefer to a light control pad.

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