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Consoles have always had sloppy text input functionality, even when they allow the usage of generic USB keyboards. The process is cumbersome when trying to find the right key with a D-pad, or inane when you need to put the controller down and pick up a keyboard.
Enter the Xbox One Chatpad, which looks to benefit players wanting a full keyboard on their controllers.
The Xbox One Chatpad is unassuming in size. The device plugs into the expansion port of any Xbox One controller and creates a bridge between the hand grips. Once attached, it adds a bit of weight to the controller, but only enough to be soon forgotten.
The device’s sleek design blends in the controller almost perfectly. The Chaptad includes a full QWERTY keyboard with numeric keys. It also contains a wide array of symbols, which are accessed by pressing either the green or orange keys that correlate to them. It reminds me of the old Nokia phones of the late 2000s released with full keypads.
Typing is relatively easy and will take around a day to master. At first, I found myself looking down at the keyboard so that my thumbs would tap the correct keys, but after a few hours of use, I was tapping away blindly without fuss. When I did glance at the Chatpad, it was generally to find a symbol, but it’s rare.
You’ll only use your thumbs for this keyboard thanks to the general placement closer to the Xbox One controller’s bottom, but it does include bumps on the F and J keys to help you find your way. Each key has a satisfying click when depressed.
All of the Chatpad keys light up thanks to a built-in backlight. It switches off after several seconds of inactivity, but springs to life when any key is tapped.
One of the most useful features on the keyboard — and one that’s made my life easier when reviewing video games — is the inclusion of the X1 and X2 buttons. These keys are mapped to take a screen shot or record a video clip of the running game. You’ll no longer need to double-tap the Xbox button and press Y, which was always a laborious and cumbersome task. It’s a welcomed addition.
The next major feature of the Chapad is the built-in audio support and a 3.5mm jack for microphone and audio out. The device allows you to stream and control the volume of both the game and microphone when a headset is connected to it. It’s a nifty feature for those living with roommates or family who want quiet time.
The Chatpad doesn’t have an expansion port, which means no other peripheral can be attached to the controller while the Chatpad is attached. You won’t be able to use any headsets that include the expansion port audio adapter either.
While using a headset and the Chatpad I didn’t notice any serious battery drainage, but it does decrease your usage time by a bit.
My only complaint with the Xbox One Chatpad is the price.
Locally it carries an RRP of R650 (US$34.99 on Amazon), which is quite a hefty number for a tiny, unsubstantial keyboard. Then again, you won’t need to displace yourself when reaching over to type with a large, standard keyboard. So even if the price is high, the Chatpad’s utility outweighs the penalty.
Verdict: The Xbox One Chatpad is highly recommended for any Xbox One MMO gamers, those who message a lot, or indulge in YouTube content. It’s a fantastic peripheral that I cannot recommend enough.