A Necessity –
Taking a note from the well-designed Xbox 360 Chatpad, Microsoft is giving Xbox One gamers an easier way to communicate hanks to the Xbox One Chatpad. As great as the texting functionality is, the best feature about this mini keyboard isn’t necessarily the typing factor but rather the included 3.5mm headset jack, included headset, and included USB cable. That’s right, the Chatpad allows you to use your favorite headset with Xbox One without the need for the adapter accessory.
Opening the Xbox One Chatpad is like opening a Christmas present; it is wrapped nicely, there is tons of excitement, but you really don’t know what exactly is in the box. The buyer will obviously know that the keyboard is included but I was amazed to find so much more in the box especially since there are no major callouts on the packaging.
The big kicker about the Xbox One Chatpad that is drastically important is the included 3.5mm headset jack located at the bottom of the keyboard itself, very similar to the Xbox 360 model. This jack alone is worth the price of admission because it allows gamers to continue to use their favorite headset from the last gen era as Xbox One controllers do not have a 3.5mm input. Buying this Chatpad for $35 eliminates the need to purchase the $20 headset adapter altogether.
Microsoft went above and beyond by including a new headset with each Chatpad. Sure, it is simply a mono headset that gamers have been using forever but this opens the door for new headset opportunity. Personally, I am excited because I get to continue to use the spectacular Astro A50 model that I prominently used during the 360 generation simply because of this Chatpad.
Making things even more convenient, the system prompts the user with a controller firmware update as soon as the Chatpad is plugged in. Using the included USB cable, which Microsoft did not have to include but did anyway, make updating your controller as easy as can be. Sure, the USB cable is only a foot long but now you don’t have to rummage around the junk drawer to find one. Updating the firmware only took about 1-2 minutes as well and was simple as can be – just follow the onscreen prompts.
Once the controller’s firmware has been updated, the user is free to start typing away. Want to send your friend a text message through Xbox Live? No problem. Want to quickly type in that 12-month Xbox Live code you got as a gift this year? The Chatpad makes it a snap. Want to make Bing or YouTube searches as easy as can be? Just type like you are using your phone. The Chatpad makes using the Xbox One so much intuitive and faster.
Besides typing messages, the shortcut keys on this mini keyboard make using your headset and Xbox One even easier. The buttons on the left and right side of the unit control in-game volume and headset volume with a simple tap. Even muting your mic is easily used because it is stationed in the lower right of the pad, making it mindless to find in the dark. And speaking of gaming in the dark, each tap of the pad causes the entire unit to light up making it easy to type even when no light is available. The keypad will glow only for a few seconds after the last tap too, which reduces the battery consumption of the controller.
The pad itself snaps into the bottom of the controller without the need for any tools. It is literally plug and play. The good news is, the pad is very light and doesn’t really add any weight to the controller. The unit also does not require external batteries as it draws its juice from the power of the controller.
Because the pad fits so snuggly within the base of the controller, removing it is the most difficult aspect. The user basically has to hold the controller sideways and pull it apart using two hands. But in order to get a firm grip, the user will probably have to hit buttons on the keyboard which could cause prompts to appear on screen during the removing process. On the other hand, once this thing is installed, you probably won’t never need to remove it as the user still has full access to the battery compartment of the controller itself.
Typing on the pad is also comfortable. It is difficult to tell from looking at a picture of the pad but each button is slightly bubbled in shape to make each key easy to tap even with fatter fingers. The pad is also made of the same black material as the standard Xbox One controller so it seamlessly merges together. Keep in mind if you are using a different colored controller, the Xbox One ChatPad is only available in black.
The Xbox One Chatpad also has two extra hotkeys located in the bottom row next to the space bar: the X1 and X2 buttons. According to the instruction manual that comes with the unit, these buttons are supposed to be programmable via the Settings app on the Xbox One dashboard. Unfortunately, no such feature is available, at least at this time; perhaps a firmware update will include this feature in the future. It would be cool to boot up the NetFlix app or Achievement list with one touch though.
In the meantime, these X1 and X2 buttons actually control in-game screenshots and video recording respectively which should especially handy for streamers and YouTubers.
Outside of needing a firm grip to remove the pad from the controller, my only other gripe is the pad makes it sort of difficult to tap down the D-Pad. While not a deal breaker, the slight lip of the pad could get in the way in heated matches, especially during fighting games like Killer Instinct. But fighting game pros are probably going to be using a fight stick anyway. The more time I spent with the pad, it became less of an issue.
For $35, the Chatpad is one of the best, if not THE best, accessory to purchase for your Xbox One (other than an external hard drive). Yes, this unit makes typing significantly easier but the other tremendous bullet point is the included 3.5mm headset jack, included mono headset, and USB cable. If you’re debating on buying the $20 headset accessory, don’t. Just buy this instead. Like the 360 Chatpad, once you use this you will never want to go back.
Similar To: the Xbox 360 Chatpad
Better Than: buying the headset adapter and using the analog stick to type
Also Try: using the Smartglass app
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com