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Microsoft Xbox 360 Messenger Kit review: Microsoft Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

Microsoft Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

Jeff Bakalar
Jeff Bakalar Editor at Large
Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.
3 min read

When the Xbox 360 was released in November 2005, owners of the previous console were delighted to see that the online element would not only be preserved, but it would also be vastly improved. Xbox Live on the 360 not only provided updated features across the board, but it also concentrated on the social environment, allowing gamers to message each other through text and voice.


Microsoft Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

The Good

Allows for chatting and messaging over Xbox Live; solid tactile buttons; light-up display; comes with headset.

The Bad

Chatpad attachment takes some getting used to on controller; backspace button location oddly placed.

The Bottom Line

The Xbox 360 Messenger Kit makes for the best text-entry option for chatting and messaging on the Xbox 360.

Unfortunately, the only way one could text message another user would be through the tedious process of typing through a virtual keyboard or physically attaching a USB keyboard to the console. With the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, users can now use a slick QWERTY keyboard attachment (called the chatpad) on their Xbox 360 controller for private messaging in-game via Xbox Live or Microsoft Messenger. While Sony just announced a similar device for the PlayStation 3, the chatpad has been available for the Xbox 360 since September 2007.

The Xbox 360 Messenger Kit comes with two pieces: a chatpad attachment for the 360 controller and a headset that plugs into the chatpad's base.

Attaching the chatpad is quick and easy. You simply line up the communication ports on the chatpad and click the outer pegs into the controller. Because the attachment occupies the port that the existing wired headset uses, the included modified headset plugs into the base of the chatpad so you can use both devices simultaneously.

The headset differs only slightly from the original, with a new volume slider and mute toggle that can clip onto your clothing. Other than that, the adjustable headset is nearly identical in looks and solid performance. Note that if you use the wireless headset, there is no change in operation when you attach the chatpad.

Once attached, the chatpad makes the controller noticeably heavier. While it doesn't directly compromise gameplay, its design certainly takes a bit of getting used to. Your fingers will feel the adapter below the rear triggers and you'll also feel the chatpad at the base of your thumbs. After some time playing, we began to get used to the new shape of the controller. That said, we decided to opt for leaving the chatpad disconnected until we needed to use it.

Using the chatpad is a very convenient experience. The buttons are great for thumb-typing and have a solid, tactile feel to them. We also really liked how the entire keyboard lights up when in use allowing you to clearly see when playing a dark room. We should also note that the controller's battery life was not noticeably affected by the chatpad's presence.

The chatpad also has Xbox 360-exclusive functionality including a shortcut key to Microsoft Messenger along with the ability to type symbols like the Microsoft Points currency symbol. Our only minor complaint about the alphanumeric keyboard is the odd location of the backspace button. Other than that, the chatpad works just as expected.

If you are an avid user of the messaging feature in Xbox Live, Microsoft Messenger, or play a game that supports in-game text chat, the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit will certainly make text-entry a whole lot easier. Some gamers may be turned off by the new shape your controller will take, but rest assured that it does not affect gameplay--and you always have the option of disconnecting it when not in use. At $30, the Messenger Kit is priced a bit higher than we'd like, but it is the best option for text entry on the Xbox 360.


Microsoft Xbox 360 Messenger Kit

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 7
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