Fed up of having to input lengthy codes, Gamertags and messages using the d-pad? Well, there is an easier way but it'll set you back £25...
Coming to a store near you this Friday (Sept. 7) is the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, which provides "thumb-stroke chat capabilities" to your 360 pad says Microsoft.
The Chatpad slots nicely onto the bottom of your 360 controller and allows you to input text much easier and quicker than if you were using the d-pad. It can also be used to input any text into your 360, and not just MSN messages. So if you're looking for a quicker way to type 'LOL' into an Xbox Live message, here it is.
There's no denying that the Chatpad is a great little device that looks good and is comfortable and easy to use (even if you've got two giant thumbs). More importantly though you can fit it to your 360 pad and almost forget it's there while playing games.
As a nice little bonus it even adds extra weight to the pad in your hand that SixAxis can only dream of. We blasted all the way through Bioshock - twice! - and didn't notice it was still there. But to be honest for something like Halo 3 multiplayer it's coming straight out. Nothing is going to get in the way of that...
The raised keys of the miniature Qwerty board are easy enough to hit but it feels a little strange to be typing on a keyboard using just your thumbs. You won't be getting crumbs or dead skin down the cracks of the keypad either, as there aren't any.
We spend our lives hammering away at a keyboard but for some reason our thumbs haven't yet memorised where all the letters are. We can hit the space bar without looking though.
You needn't worry about contracting RSI from the Chatpad and if you like to type in the dark, and let's face it who doesn't, you'll be pleased to know that it comes fully backlit.
The illuminations will turn themselves off after a few seconds of being idle but, yes, this is going to eat into your battery life. And you'll feel it more if you haven't taken the leap and forked out for the Plug and Play kit. It's getting a bit expensive all this, isn't it?
Because the Chatpad slots into that little hole that was previously saved exclusively for a head-set, the package comes with a new set of headphones and another little hole to plug them into.
These slot into the back of the Chatpad and feature a trendy volume control box on the wires like you get with a fancy pair of MP3 headphones. Apart from that it's exactly the same as a bog-standard pair you get with the Live pack.
The Chatpad is a great piece of kit but you only really need it if you're the type that uses MSN too much. It offers an easier and more practical way to chat to your MSN contacts but don't forget that 360 is a games console first...
A handy little piece of kit that's only really worth it is you abuse MSN on your 360