Since August I've been wondering how Sony's announced keypad add-on for the PlayStation 3 would fit into the average gamers' hands. The Xbox 360 keypad add-on nestles between the two prongs of that system's controller, allowing people to thumb-text below the controller's thumbstick as if they were using a Sidekick.
The PS3 version, however, connects above the sticks. I'm sure I'm not the only PS3 owner who has been wondering if that would force people to make an uncomfortable stretch.
At a meeting I had with Sony executives today in Manhattan, I saw a PS3 controller with the keypad attached. I asked to pick it up, to try it and to snap photos.
What you see above is the controller in my (very Italian) hands.
I snapped a few more photos of the device in my hands and those of Jack Buser, lead developer of the PS3's upcoming Home service. Jack is a bigger guy, with bigger hands. He's over six feet tall. I'm 5'6".
This is what it looked like when we started reaching for buttons to type on:
First, I asked Buser, who has used the add-on a lot and says he can blaze through typing with it, to reach for the hardest-to-reach keys, which he did here...
Here's me reaching for the keys without losing my grip...
...and these are Buser's hands again, for one more comparison.
I pretend-typed some messages using the device, but I did not have time to input anything into the PS3. Like the 360 keypad, the PS3 add-on is designed to ease console user's efforts to input messages and passwords. The add-on was light, adding no significant weight to the PS3 controller.
The device is scheduled to ship in November and is listed at online retailers for between $40 and $50.