Friday, May 11, 2007

Madcatz Wireless Thumbpad (PS3)

- $30 at gamestop
- With the new 360 dashboard release with IM support I figured I'd give this a try.
- Comes with a tiny usb 2.4ghz dongle, the thumbpad, and 2 clear clips (one for the standard six axis controller and another for the madcatz line of ps3 controllers).
- Tested and works on ps3, xbox360, and pc. No drivers needed. On pc it shows up as a standard human interface device (HID).
- Uses 2XAAA batteries (NIMH rechargables work just fine)
- Keyboard goes to sleep after 10min of inactivity. There is also a power on/off switch on the side.
- Standard QWERTY Layout.
- The thumbpad works pretty well. The individual keys have a bit of space between them. It has a full set of function keys. I wish the backspace was a dedicated key instead of a two button combo. No esc key which is a bit odd. It's comfortable in the hands when used standalone. Construction feels fine. No windows key so you can't use any of the messenger shortcuts like windows+M on 360. Also, if you plan to use this with a PC take note that there are NO alt or ctrl keys.
- The clip for the ps3 controller works ok. It's very easy and quick to snap on and is quite sturdy. You can still get to all the controller buttons but it completely throws off the balance. It feels quite awkward with all that weight above the controller. Also, the middle keys are a bit hard to reach with your thumbs since the controller itself kind of gets in the way. For web browsing or maybe an MMO this would work ok but I wouldn't want to leave the thumbpad clipped on for say a game of Resistance.

Overall I'm pretty satisfied with the product. If you need a nice generic/universal thumbpad for you consoles or maybe even an HTPC, this works out nicely. It's something nice and small that could sit on a corner table or something instead of having to lug out a full size wireless keyboard. I plan to just leave it unclipped for the most part so I can just quickly pick it up and do some quick text entry. I'm betting the 360 dedicated thumbpad will be better but it will probably only work on the 360.

UPDATE: 5/15/07
- I've been using it lately on the 360 for IM chat. It works quite well. Here's a tip. If your messenger name is not what you want it to be go here:
And change it there. Using the latest windows client doesn't work but logging in through the web client and changing your display name there works.

UPDATE: 4/8/08
- I purchased another one of these more recently, and I've noticed they changed the design a bit. It's now thinner and has some sort of built in rechargeable battery (usb charging). It doesn't look to be user replaceable. Personally, I liked the older design better.

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