Last night Dan and I attended the GamerScoreBlog community event in Chicago. Besides getting the chance to check out some of Microsoft's upcoming titles (which we'll report on later today) we got the chance to check out Microsoft's new Chatpad add-on.
While the unit we got to check out last night was not the final version that will ship later this summer, it is a pretty close approximation of what will be shipped to stores. The ChatPad snaps snugly onto the bottom of the controller. It's a pretty tight fit so you don't have to worry about accidentally knocking it off during gameplay. The unit isn't really that heavy and doesn't really impact the weight or balance of the Xbox 360 controller. I think this is something that a lot of people will snap on and leave on.
Using the buttons will take a little getting used to but like any small QWERTY keyboard once you get used to it you'll be ripping off long diatribes in no time. The buttons have a good feeling to them and the keyboard is backlit so you'll be able to type in the dark if that's how you roll. The unit we saw did not have the final LED light installed so I can't really vouch for how bright it is. I asked the Microsoft guys if the backlight had a negative impact on battery life and they said it did but not too much as the backlight goes off when you're not typing.
We didn't really get a chance to use it in any games so I can't say how responsive the unit is but it looks great, feels great, and I think a lot of people are going to snap this sucker up (especially now that Live is hooked into Live Messenger). Pricing and availability haven't been announced yet but I think this is going to be another great Xbox accessory that a lot of people are going to want to pick up.