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Gaming Accessories

Mad Catz Surfr is a gaming controller with a built-in QWERTY keyboard (hands-on)

If you've always hated using a separate Bluetooth keyboard just to enter search terms into your Android TV box, Mad Catz's Surfr may be just the thing.

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BARCELONA -- Mad Catz's latest Surfr is not the typical gaming controller you've come to expect from the company. For one, it doesn't look like your normal gaming controller. As you can see, it packs a QWERTY keyboard while still retaining the controls that you'll need for gameplay.

The keyboard is sandwiched between the controller sticks, and Mad Catz has cleverly tweaked the design by putting the buttons and D-pad around the sticks. This frees up some space, since you don't need to have the sticks at the bottom as you would with PlayStation controllers. For those with larger hands, you can extend the left and right sides outward for a more comfortable grip.

The grip at the bottom can be extended for those with larger hands. Aloysius Low/CNET

The keyboard is useful if you're using an Android TV box such as the Amazon Fire TV, as you can type with the controller to quickly find movie titles instead of having to use a separate keyboard. The Surfr also has a clip-on attachment that you can use with your Android device (instead of the TV box) if that's your preference.

While the basic idea of the Surfr sounds great, I wasn't too impressed with it during my hands-on. I don't have the largest of hands, but I found the controller sticks are a tad too small to use easily, which make it difficult to control the action onscreen. I suspect this will be even worse for those who have huge paws.

The Surfr will retail for €60 (that converts to around $67, £43 and AU$85) in April and will be available for purchase globally. Mad Catz also showed a cheaper, plastic version of the Lynx controller that the company debuted at CES earlier this year. Unlike the metal $300 Lynx though, the €60 version doesn't transform at all.

I love the idea of the Mad Catz Surfr, but it may be a bit hard to game with, at least for me. Aloysius Low/CNET

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