Although the Xbox 360 has long enjoyed a dedicated keyboard peripheral from Microsoft, the Xbox One has gone two years without such a privilege. Owners of the newer system have had to type with standard USB keyboards or worse: the default controller. Ignoring the shoddy no-brand keyboard add-ons that popped up a while back, Nyko has just released the first proper keyboard accessory. But Microsoft's official Chatpad looms only a few weeks away.
The Nyko Type Pad is a small wireless keyboard that plugs into the Xbox One controller. It features a unique analog nub for navigation, dedicated shortcut buttons, and glow-in-the-dark keys. The Type Pad works with controllers featuring the standard headset jack and those without, and it still allows headsets to be used. But does this accessory have what it takes to compete against Microsoft's official keyboard? Read our detailed review with video to find out!
No wires needed, but…
The Nyko Type Pad consists of two pieces: the Type Pad itself and a tiny wireless adapter dongle. The dongle plugs into any of the Xbox One's three USB ports.
After plugging in the wireless dongle and connecting the Type Pad to a controller for the first time, you'll need to sync the Type Pad. Press and hold the Sync button on the bottom of the Type Pad to initiate the process. A Blue LED to the right of the button will blink during the syncing process and then turn solid blue for a moment when done. After that initial sync, you shouldn't need to re-sync again.
Requiring a wireless dongle would be no big deal, except for one thing. Microsoft's Chatpad doesn't need one. Going with Nyko's keyboard will occupy a USB port that the official version would leave free.
Headsets and plugging in
The Type Pad itself can be used with either the Mark I version of the Xbox One controller (no 3.5 mm headset jack) or the Mark II version (with 3.5mm headset jack) that replaced the first version in June 2015. At the bottom of the Type Pad you'll find a Mark I-style jack in the center and a 3.5 mm jack to the right of it.
Connecting the Type Pad will vary depending on which style of controller you have. The add-on has a collapsible 3.5mm headset plug that you'll need when pairing with a Mark II controller. The plug folds away into the Type Pad when not in use, and is covered by a piece of rubber on the rear of the device. The 3.5mm jack will not function when used with Mark I controllers, of course.
Although the Type Pad supports the use of headsets, it does not replicate the functions of the Xbox One Headset Adapter. You'll have to control headset volume the same way you would when not using the Type Pad. The official Chatpad, on the other hand, has headset volume control buttons.
Snapping the Type Pad into an Xbox One controller is a bit harder than you'd think, at least at first. Initially, it took several attempts to get the thing to go all the way in, even though I had lined it up right. But on subsequent attempts, it goes in with little resistance. Looks like it took some breaking in.
The Xbox One version of the Type Pad does not require any additional power source besides the controller.
Stick it to me
The Xbox One Type pad features an identical QWERTY keyboard and stick layout to the equivalent PlayStation 4 accessory, so the stick and keyboard portions of this review apply to that version as well.
The analog nub situated at the top-right corner of the keyboard is the Type Pad's standout feature. This tiny plastic nub features raised bumps for easy grip. It moves in the cardinal four directions but replicates the functionality of the right analog stick. Thus, it can be used for both navigation on the Xbox One dashboard and to move the cursor in text input fields.
Neither the official Chatpad nor other third-party keyboards include a navigation nub like the Type Pad. The nub actually proves quite useful when you're knee-deep in text entry. Instead of having to reach up and away from the keyboard, you can adjust the cursor right where your hand is. Not an essential feature, but still handy.
The Type Pad keyboard consists of 47 soft rubber keys. The keys are incandescent, meaning they glow in the dark. The actual key labels are printed on in black. That printing could potentially wear away somewhat after extended use, but it shouldn't erode to any great extent.
The three QWERTY rows have four keys in addition to the 26 letters of the alphabet: Backspace, period, comma, and colon. The bottom row has a Caps Lock key, Shift, an @ key, Spacebar, a .com key, a slash, and Enter. The @ and .com keys should be useful for inputting email addresses and URLs into games, messages, apps, and the web browser.
Oddly, only the Caps Lock key capitalizes letters – not the Shift key. The bad thing about Caps Lock is of course that users must remember to press the key again after typing a letter in order to turn off caps. Considering how infrequently we need to capitalize multiple letters in a row, it would be better if the Caps key only capitalized the next letter after being pressed.
The Shift key is used in combination with the top two rows of keys to type a variety of symbols. You have to press and hold Shift while pressing one of the top-row keys to type those symbols. That requires two fingers to do, which probably means you'll have to take both of your thumbs away from the actual controller when using Shift. A much better solution would be if Shift simply affected the next single key after being pressed, much as I wish the Caps key would do.
The other problem with typing symbols is that the symbols assigned to the top row of numbers don't match those of an actual keyboard. For example, Shift + 2 types a question mark on the Type Pad instead of @. Several characters that would be found on the top row of a real keyboard are instead mapped to the QWERTY row of the Type Pad. That makes no sense and introduces a learning curve that shouldn't be there.
While we're on the subject, why is an important character like question mark assigned to another key's secondary function instead of getting its own key? The Type Pad gives the colon its own key, and that's far less useful than question mark.
My final complaint with the Type Pad's keys is that of repeat rate. If you press a key down too long while typing, the character will repeat – so you'll type two or more characters instead of just one. Real keyboards work that way too, but I find it a bit too easy to repeat a character by mistake with this accessory.
There is no practical reason that key repeating would ever be needed with the Type Pad (outside of the highly unusual case of playing a Project Spark game that uses keyboard controls). Simply disabling key repeating would significantly cut down on typos caused by the Type Pad. That said, it's not too hard to learn to press the keys quickly in order to avoid repeated characters.
Last year I reviewed the Nyko Media Remote for Xbox One and found that not only was it cheaper than the equivalent Microsoft product, it was actually superior in some ways. I wish I could say the same for the Type Pad, but no such luck.
Comparing the Type Pad to the upcoming Microsoft ChatPad, Nyko's offering falls short in several ways. The Chatpad offers hard plastic keys, backlighting, headset volume controls, a greater range of alternate-function characters and more intuitive layout, and it doesn't require a wireless dongle.
Compared to that, the only feathers in the TypePad's cap are its navigation nub, a .com button, and Windows 7/8 support (the Chatpad works only with Windows 10). And worse, the TypePad costs anywhere from $29.99-34.99 at various retailers, putting it directly in competition with the Chatpad.
If Nyko's keyboard had beaten Microsoft's to market by months instead of weeks, it surely would have fared much better. As it stands, the Type Pad needs to drop to at least $24.99 (preferably $19.99) before it becomes a viable alternative to the Chatpad. And even then, I would still recommend the Chatpad instead. Check out our Chatpad review for a more detailed comparison.
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