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Great Value but Not for Everyone...
on March 8, 2011
Allow me to preface this with an apology for the length of this review. This bundle made up of four individual items, and as a result I wrote about them all. If you already know what all the individual items are and just want to know if this bundle is a good value then the simple answer is yes.
While I would like to give this Item a five star rating (for myself, it is a solid 4.5 stars) at best I can give it is a 3 for reasons stated in the descriptions of the items.
For those that want to know more about the individual items and the package itself please read on...
This bundle of item is only as useful as you make it. For myself, It is a great value but for you it may not be. It really depends on your online play style and what you do with it.
As an online gamer I enjoy talking to other players, and I am fairly active on my messaging. Not only that, but I do play online quite regularly, I buy games online, as well as additional content. For me, there is nothing in this bundle that I do not use, so the value is definitely there when compared to buying them separately (all prices are new products, not used).
1 year XBOX live subscription: $60 retail/$40-$50 online XBOX Live Chat Pad: $30 Retail/$20-25 Online XBOX Live Microphone: $20 Retail/$15 Online 400 Microsoft Points: $5 retail/$5 Online
As you can see, at best you are saving $55 off of retail, at worst about $20. And this is where the subjective part comes in. This is only a value if you actually take advantage of everything this has to offer. I can assure you that many people online don't. For those that do, if you can get it for less then $70 (I picked it up at $60) I would highly recommend it.
Now to the Actual products:
1) XBOX Live Gold Subscription 1 year: There is nothing to say here, other then you need it if you plan to play multiplayer games online. If you do not plan to play online then this package is not for you. <-- emphasize that period. If you don't plan to get online and play with other people then do not bother, just save your money.
The live service itself is great, and the Microsoft support is good. The problem with this premium service is the online games. The lack of dedicated servers results in a large host advantage, the lack of support in individual games (try calling Bungie to get help with a Halo Problem), and the childish (adult or otherwise) gamers out there who's only purpose in life is to bother other players.
XBOX live gold in my opinion is the best online gaming service out there for console gamers, but it is far from perfect.
2) Xbox Live Chat Pad: This package comes with the black chat pad (there is a white one out there also)and as I understand it, there are no real third party options for it. It is a bit of a pain to put on but it is very secure once locked in, and it melds into the controller. It does add a little bit of weight but, for myself, it is barely noticeable during extended gaming sessions. The keys click but don't have much throw to them, think of the mini-keyboards on cell phones. the number 1 and 0 are a bit wonky but work, maybe it's just the half size keys or their placement on the corners of the chat pad. Besides the shift key, you also have a Green Square and Orange Circle, for special characters used in European and Latin Countries. The Square and Circle only light up when they are toggled and it's easy to read.
This device is all about convenience and not needed in any way shape or form because you can just send voice messages, or use the soft keyboard. Having said that, voice recordings don't always come out clear and sometimes require multiple recordings, and using the soft keyboard takes a lot more time then the chat pad.
3) Xbox Live Headset Communicator: Easily the weakest part of this bundle, I have a love hate relationship with this thing. Quite honestly, it is a flimsy, cheap, microphone. The noise cancellation on it is worthless if you play with anything resembling a decent volume, and you will mute people online because of it, and many people just do not talk online. Quality wise, It's not worth 10 dollars, let alone the 20 retail people ask for it.
On the other hand... When you get a good group and are playing with friends online I can't imagine not having it. It's like the old days of playing the NES on the couch with a group of friends. The advantages of talking and co-coordinating with your group or just finding out what happened during a game or on your favorite tv show really outweigh the cons. You are able to get to know folk, even if it is only their online personality.
For those that are wondering why I don't just find an alternate headset, the truth is that I have been searching and it's been miss and miss. They don't fit into the controller right, stop working in the middle of a game, and in general are just to much of a hassle. I have used Jabra, Skull Candy, Bose, and Logitech mic/earbuds and not a one has just plugged in and worked. All required some type of adjustment to get it to work. Quite Simply, it's just easier to take care of the headset communicator then to have to fiddle with other devices.
4) 400 microsoft points: This is five dollars in microsoft money. Once on your live account they don't do away, and can be used to buy games, buy additional downloadable content, or buy little electronic gear for your avatar. With the constant specials MS has going on this can often get you a decent game (I bought Pac Man Championship Edition with it, very fun game).
As you can see there is a lot of hit and miss. Nothing here is needed, and all it does is make things more convenient for you. For those gamers like myself, it is truly worth the money, for the average gamer though, a gold subscription is all you really need, and that is anywhere from 15-30 dollars less. then this bundle.