Sony PS3 Wireless Keypad
We recently took a look at the Xbox 360 Messenger Kit, which includes a chatpad that snaps into the bottom of an Xbox 360 controller. While the chatpad was released over a year ago, the PS3 keypad just saw a release in Decemeber of 2008. While it does suffer from a few functional omissions and ergonomic irritations, the PS3 Wireless Keypad is the best way to chat with friends and browse the Internet on the PS3.
Unlike the chatpad, the PS3 keypad does not electronically connect to your Sixaxis or DualShock 3 controller. Instead, the pad is fitted with a retractable clamp that attaches to the controller. This not only means that the keypad requires a separate battery charge, but it also will need to be paired independently from the controller itself. You'll need a USB cable (not provided) to initially set up the device and pair it to your PS3. You'll also need it for charging the internal battery.
The keypad is small, and its buttons are very cluttered. We'd imagine people with thicker fingers will have a hard time typing away on it. During our testing, we found the QWERTY keys responsive and we liked how the buttons are angled like a conventional laptop or desktop keyboard. When connected to your controller, the keypad rests raised and above the L and R buttons. While the pad doesn't affect gameplay at all, you will find it a bit awkward trying to reach the keys when it is time to type--you'll basically have to regrip the controller from the top. We found removing the pad altogether from the controller led to a more comfortable typing experience.
There's plenty that can be done from the keypad buttons as most have dual functionality that can be accessed via the blue and orange shift buttons on either side of the pad. There's also a friends button that will shoot you directly to your PlayStation Network buddy list in addition to a button that'll allow you to bring up a message box at any time. Unfortunately there is no backlight for the keys, which was a feature we really liked on the Xbox 360 chatpad.
There's a power switch on the side of the keypad which allows you to conserve energy when you're not typing. An LED indictor light on the side of the device will let you know when it's done charging.
The most interesting feature of the keypad is undoubtedly its "touch pad" mode. When enabled, this mode allows you to use three rows of keys as a virtual touch pad (think of the mouse touch pad on a laptop). This feature is very useful when browsing the Web as it essentially turns your keypad into a mouse. We were very impressed with the touch-pad mode performance as the responsiveness is spot-on. We'd definitely recommend you calibrate the mode first, which takes all of two seconds.
Priced around $50, the PS3 Wireless Keypad is a bit more expensive than we would have preferred. However, you are getting a keyboard that can act as a mouse and can also be paired with any other compatible Bluetooth advice. If you're someone who makes use of the PS3 chat features, browses the Web, or uses the newly launched PlayStation Home, the keypad is the best accessory for text-based communication.