PlayStation 3 Wireless Keypad
Microsoft had one and with the increase in text input in consoles, it was only a matter of time before Sony came out with an attachment as well to facilitate typing for the PlayStation 3. In comes the PlayStation 3 Wireless Keypad, a peripheral that has good intentions but fails to live up to the Microsoft counterpart.
The Wireless Keypad for the PlayStation 3 is an add-on for the Sixaxis or the Dual Shock 3 giving you a full QWERTY keyboard on hand. It snaps onto the center of the controller and wraps around underneath as well. There are holes on the bottom of the unit where the start, select, and PS3 button sit in so that the top of the Wireless Keypad can push on them in since they are covered by the unit. The buttons are slightly raised from surface and rounded. They are also spaced well so you won't likely have the problem of mistyping another letter. It's got nice feedback when pressing the buttons as well. There is a colored button on each corner to access the symbols that are associated with some of the letters. A nice feature is there are two dedicated buttons that take you straight to messages or take you to the friends list. This makes accessing those areas pretty quick and easy and if you have a lot of friends that talk to you, it's a pretty handy option.
Something unique is the ability to change the center area of the Wireless Keypad into a touchpad like control. This part of the controller contains a capacitive touch area allowing you to glide your finger over and control the mouse pointer say on the PlayStation Store or the web browser. In theory it sounded like it would work well and from my testing it was just OK. The non-smooth surface does make it a little bit of a hindrance in gliding around with the finger and performance was OK. It did lag sometimes and there were some inconsistent areas where it would stop working for a bit and then start up again.
With how the peripheral sits on the controller, it is a hassle to type on just for the fact you have to move your hand up and tilt the controller a little to access the buttons. Unlike the Xbox 360 Chatpad where the keys sat in an area that's easily accessible to the thumbs, the Wireless Keypad's location is a detriment to the usability of the product. It's still faster than using the controller to enter in text but you'll constantly be moving the position of your hand around to type on it. With the 360 Chatpad, I am still able to keep my hands in the same position whether I am playing a game or using the Chatpad. No dice with the Wireless Keypad and that's what makes this product fall short.
I didn't have any issues though playing games with the Wireless Keypad mounted on the controller. In fact, it does a good job of being out of the way; even a little better than the Chatpad for the 360. I also didn't feel that the item made the controller top heavy as the weight is pretty light. But, those are about the only things going for it though as the position makes typing a hassle.
Also, whereas the 360 Chatpad integrated into the controller and didn't require any power, the Wireless Keypad actually has a separate battery and mini-USB port for charging. Yes, you'll need two mini-USB cables if you want to charge both the Wireless Keypad and the PlayStation 3 controller at the same time. I don't know if there was an issue getting the Wireless Keypad to work with the controller's port to supply power and a pass through to charge both at the same time so the design seems a little odd to me. The one caveat is that you can use the keypad separately with other Bluetooth capable products such as smartphones but typing on it without being attached to a controller is a little uncomfortable due to the shape and design.
Sony tried to do something different with their texting solution and it just didn't turn out too well. Typing just isn't as natural as it could be and compared to Microsoft's product it doesn't feel right. You have to move your thumbs and position of your hands too much to access the keyboard. It does sit out of the way though when attached so all buttons and sticks are accessible without any issues. I guess if you don't want to use a keyboard this is an option but it's as well thought out I think as it could be. A better place would be below the two analog sticks but I don't know why Sony decided to have the Wireless Keypad sit in the opposite area instead. Having to charge it separately from the controller is a little hassle as well. It's definitely not one of the better first party products offered by Sony and one that needed to go back to the drawing board to make it more usable.
It's hard to type with the product and you have to move your hand out of position to access the keys. The capacitive mouse control is an interesting concept but overall doesn't work as well as you think it does. It also needs a separate USB connection to recharge.
Rating: 7 Average
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.