I never caught on to the thumb-typing technique of our modern text message-obsessed society. My refusal to strengthen typing with my thumbs is that I was convinced, at one point, that the technique was a passing phase born of the Blackberry’s temporary boom in popularity (I got a lot of things wrong that day). Also, my thumbs are about as large as a pair of Polish sausages, forcing me to use more of a hunt n’ peck technique with my pointing finger instead of the dueling thumb war method people with normal hands have adopted.
Yet in the modern console world, where the living room machine resembles an entertainment PC, it would be nice to have a typing solution that is not navigating a slider over an onscreen keyboard. That means … sigh … we need to look toward thumb-typing as a solution. This is where Nyko’s PlayStation 4 Type Pad comes in.
What you’ll like
Above: Snaps right on.
Image Credit: Nyko
The Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad has a clever mold to its body, which features a cavity of firm plastic with a seam line that allows just enough pliability to snap the unit over a PlayStation 4 controller. The body partially wraps itself over the two lower handle nubs, placing the keypad in the dead space in the lower center of the Sony controller.
Get faster turnaround on creative, more testing, smarter improvements and better results. Learn how to apply agile marketing at our roadshow in SF.
I don’t get the impression that anyone actually wraps their fingers around those two lower nubs to cause a problem, as if they are handles. Still, the type pad features enough of a concavity on the back-end to allow fingers to comfortably rest in that area.
The button pad itself is a rounded-edge-rectangular shape, with buttons placed in a familiar QWERTY PC keyboard layout. I say buttons, and not keys, because the input is much more spongy than a click-heavy switch-based key. They’re black with bright orange silhouettes and lettering, which makes it convenient for my eyes to dart down and confirm which letter I am pressing.
One thing I definitely appreciate is a miniature joystick control at the upper right of the pad. You can use it to skip around a typed message or to navigate around the PlayStation 4’s U.I. It’s placed just in the right spot, and it’s just small enough that I haven’t accidentally knocked it during gameplay.
The bottom features an on-off switch, a slot to plug-in a USB cable, and a jack for headsets. The last is definitely a requirement, considering the unit plugs into the headset jack of the PlayStation 4 controller.
The Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad is also light, which didn’t make the controller feel cumbersome. It does add to the controller’s size, however, so that does take a little but of getting use to. However, I tossed this thing around playing at least 20 hours of playing Black Ops III, and it never felt completely awkward.
What you won’t like
Above: Bright orange contrasting the black plastic
Image Credit: Nyko
Loose with use
When the Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad hugs the controller at its tightest, it can still wiggle around a tiny bit. I’m talking hairs here, but it’s enough to be notice. My theory is that the mold needs to have some give, both to get it to snap on the controller and to try to accommodate some minor differences from one PlayStation 4 to another.
When it does get loose, the audio quality through the headset goes to the crapper. When this happens, sometimes shoving the unit up on the controller will help. But I found that when the audio starts cutting out, it was best to just take the unit completely off the controller and re-snap it back on.
Once I have a tight fit again, it’s for about two hours of hard playing before it eventually wiggles loose again. I just would not count on this being an accessory that gets installed once and stays put. I recommend during long play sessions to consider leaving it off altogether, but keeping it within reach so you’re good to go when you need to type something.
This is more a minor annoyance, but the USB connection on the bottom of the PlayStation 4 Type Pad only charges the type pad. In my tests, it didn’t seem to charge the controller or effect its connectivity to the console.
This isn’t a huge deal to me, since I use an external third-party charger for my controller, separate from the PlayStation 4. But if you don’t have an external charger and only have one USB cable, and both the type pad and the PlayStation 4 controller are dead — you’re stuck prioritizing charging one device over the other.
I crave feedback
This is a personal preference, but I need some sort of feedback on the keys I press. My mitts are larger than average, so my thumb does more of a mash than a press on the rubber buttons. Although I can type on a regular QWERTY keyboard without looking down, that’s all due to muscle memory developed on my entire hand. So I’m still in this phase where I have to look down at the pad, then look up at the screen, then look down at the pad again. I’m making a lot of key press mistakes, accidentally typing “ass” when I just wanted to hit “a.”
I also encountered times where I think I input a key, but I didn’t. I need something to contextually tell my hand that I’ve successfully input something.
I can also see, however, where people may not want a click. Maybe they’re thumb-typing at 100 words per minute as if they were sitting at a regular keyboard, and don’t need physical feedback to confidently compose a message.
It’s just something to consider if your preferences line up more with mine.
Typing messages with a console controller has sucked since the XBAND days. The last generation’s reliance on entering marketplace codes and sending hate mail to the strangers we play with created a need for a more comfortable typing solution. So it isn’t as if the Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad is something revolutionary or new. It’s a straight forward, utilitarian product in 2015.
The mold design of the unit is a great idea, but it eventually shakes loose from the controller through extended play. Although, I mean, who wants to keep any type pad attached to a controller for long periods of play?
Personally, I keep the Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad off the controller and charging in one of the spare USB ports on the console, but within reach so I can snap it on when I absolutely need to type something out. Considering that’s the extent of what type pads are designed for, I don’t think I can ask for anything more.