As mentioned above, the buttons aren't the easiest to hit or the most responsive we've ever used, but typing with the Keypad is still infinitely better than entering text with the D-pad and on-screen virtual keyboard. The scrolling touchpad functionality, however, is rather less usable. The concept is a bit odd to begin with: you press a key on the bottom of the keypad (the one with a picture of a finger pressing a key), which suddenly turns the whole thing into a large, rather bumpy capacitive touchpad.
The idea is to sweep your finger nimbly across the keys to navigate the XMB or web browser, and while that is
a nice idea, in practice it just doesn't work very well. The precision is very poor (probably thanks to the gaping holes between the touch-sensitive keys) and your fingers tend to stick just a bit on the shiny buttons as they move from one to the next. It's only occasionally useful for running through long lists, but generally isn't even worth enabling.
So, is it a useful gadget and, more importantly, is it worth your $50? Despite its annoyances it does what it advertises: it makes the process of entering text much easier than the alternative of using the D-pad. For heavy users of the PS3's messaging system or for anyone who has already spent hours pimping out their pad at Home
in preparation of nights full of text-based discussions, it may be a worthwhile investment.
Compared to the Xbox 360's Chatpad it's a bit less comfortable and a bit more clumsy, but is much lighter and has less of an impact on the ergos of the controller. Ultimately we're not particularly fond of either
device, and we're guessing that love for one over the other will more or less fall along party lines -- as most console gaming discussions do. The real deal-breaker here is that $50 price, which seems steep compared to the Chatpad's $30. For that we'd rather buy ourselves (most of) a new game and stick with a wireless USB keyboard.