For nearly twenty years, Nyko has been supplying gamers with accessories that first party manufacturers refuse to make. This includes altered controllers, intercoolers and uniquely designed charger kits, just to name a few. With the current generation nearing its second year on the market, the American-based company is pumping out a handful of items that players would love to have in their collection. This includes a databank that allows for 3.5-inch hard drive to work on the PlayStation 4 and a modular power station extension for the Xbox One. With the success of online connectivity and games such as Final Fantasy XIV, there’s one piece of hardware we’re still missing, at least until now. Nyko has made a Type Pad that fits snuggly on the Dualshock 4, giving players an even quicker way to chat with friends who don’t own a headset.
In terms of form, the Nyko PS4 Type Pad fits nearly perfectly on the bottom of the DualShock 4. It does take a little effort to slide in as every angle counts, but for the most part it meshes with the controller. The material also coincides with the DualShock 4’s grips, so there’s a slightly textured back, which happens to be rougher than the standard material, and a shinier plastic front. In terms of placement, the Type Pad feels better than the official PlayStation 3 wireless keyboard released during the last generation as all your commands require hand movement only a little downwards instead of all the way upward.
The Type Pad comes in a QWERTY layout, although some of the button placement has been altered to adjust for the small design. For example, the backspace is in the middle, furthest to the right where the Enter button normally is, which can be a pain to use, the shift and capitalize buttons are on the very bottom next to the @ and Space bar, and there’s a dedicated .com for easy use. A number of the keys, such as the equals sign and greater than, have also been assigned to the top most letters (below the numbers) and only require the Shift key to be pushed to access them. While these are usable design changes, the shift key is pretty much non-functional from traditional use. As we’ve all come to expect, the Shift key plus a letter will capitalize this, but instead it doesn’t work like this here. It’s strictly meant for the 20 different symbols available, forcing the Cap Locks button to be pressed twice when you need even a singular capitalization. On that note, I also would have liked to have seen an indication when the cap locks button is on as there’s nothing to tell you otherwise, forcing some trial and error on the user’s behalf.
Unfortunately, this device can be a bit difficult to actually type on. The biggest problem the Nyko PS4 Type Pad has is its seemingly unresponsive buttons. Instead of going with solid plastic, Nyko has gone with a more rubberized material that when pressed, doesn’t give off much, if any feedback. There were countless times when I thought I had typed everything perfectly only to look up and see a number of the letters were missing. It’s a matter of, because of how different the button placement is, for example, how far the N is away from the edge, and how much pressure is required for these small keys, this does require users to try to learn a QWERTY keyboard scheme all over again. The button size seem fine enough, even for those with large fingers, but this as said before, requires a great deal of pressure to register.
Performance-wise, we did a number of tests to see how long the Type Pad would take to write out specific phrases in comparison to the DualShock 4’s thumbsticks and d-pad. This could very well be determinate on how well you know how to use the PS4’s chat interface, but we didn’t use the recommended/auto-fill ability and the results are a little disappointing. Typing “Don’t leave me hanging” took 14 seconds on the d-pad, while the Type Pad clocked in at 10 seconds. “It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter” took 25 seconds on the d-pad and 18 seconds on the Type Pad. This is roughly an increase of 30% in productivity, only if you don’t use the recommended word databank the standard controller interface has. Testing it with that feature, the two functions are comparable, with the Type Pad edging out the controller by a second or two.
It also should be noted that this doesn’t really work well with a number of applications. Netflix seems to work fine with the search function acting as normal, but the PlayStation 4’s Internet Browser is even more difficult to maneuver through with the Type Pad and its newly added thumbstick, and the PlayStation Store straight up doesn’t work. You’d think something like this would be beneficial for searching on the PlayStation Store, but it doesn’t function in the application. It could be the UI’s fault more than anything, but it makes the Type Pad useless in this area, something that could have easily benefited from it.
The Nyko PlayStation 4 Type Pad is a good idea in theory, but doesn’t work as well as it should in practice. It’s not like the Type Pad is unusable by any means, but there are a number of design choices that don’t seem to be in favor of the player. The design itself is well done as it blends in with the DualShock 4, only requiring players to move their hands down slightly to access the device, the headphone passthrough is a nice touch and there’s a dedicated batter so it won’t drain the already short-spanned controller. Unfortunately, that’s where the likeable elements stop. The keys don’t give off enough feedback to indicate a command has been registered, the button placement for many of the keys are questionable at best, and it doesn’t work in one of the most important areas: the PlayStation Store. If you’re a gamer who already knows how to use the PlayStation 4’s typing interface, then this won’t be beneficial to you in any means as it will only shave a couple of seconds off. If you’re someone who’s new to the interface and are in a group of people who don’t own headsets, then this could be a suitable replacement.