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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.
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on May 27, 2011
This bundle was awesome! I received 400 microsoft points, which I gave to my son & the keypad is so much easier than trying to use the controler. I love the headset, & for the price of the 12 months with all the extras, you can't beat that with a baseball bat!
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on July 10, 2011
Everything is plug and play, in every sense of the phrase.
-Points, simply enter the code written on the piece of paper, done!
-Xbox live membership, see prior
-Add your chat pad, just plug it into your controller, done!
-Headset, just plug it into your chat pad or controller, done!

I love the chat pad, it even has a backlit keyboard. No going letter by letter any more. The headset works perfectly, it is not a heavy gaming headset, just a speaker and a mic boom, but all you need. It is nice that it has an on/off switch through. Best of all, I bought this just for the xbox live membership, so the other 3 items were basically free, but all of good quality and things I would have needed to get anyway.
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on December 19, 2012
The Xbox LIVE 12 Month Gold Starter Kit is a really great value, for $69 bucks you get a the XBox ChatPad, a headset microphone, a 12 month XBox Gold Live account, and 400 Microsoft Points; purchased alone, a 12 month gold account subscription and 400 MS points will set you back $65.

The Chat Pad makes sending messages and entering info into the XBox a whole lot easier than the plinka, plinka, plinka, click method of the controller alone. However, the ChatPad does add weight, and changes the feel of the controller, making the Controller pad a little more awkward to use, and increasing fatigue during long gaming sessions.

The headset is a flimsy wired unpowered monaural (one ear) headset mic, which plugs into the hand Controller. The headset is fine for in-game chat, but not sound output; you will want a serious headset if you want sound and chat in the same product. One thing I noticed, is when you connect the ChatPad to the controller and then plug in the headset the connection is sometimes unreliable. Also the cord often gets in the way and I am always yanking the headset pin out of the jack, or off of my head.

Overall I would highly recommend this product.

Great Value
Useful if heavy ChatPad
Microphone headset
12 Month XBox Gold Live Account
400 Microsoft Points

Cheap Monaural headset, with annoyingly short cable, not always reliable connecting through the ChatPad.
ChatPad ads extra weight to the controller making it awkward and increasing fatigue over prolonged use.
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on December 10, 2011
You pretty much need to have this kit if you have an Xbox and want to do anything online, especially gaming but even Netflix or Hulu. The chatpad makes it much easier to search for players, games, movie titles, etc. than hunting around with the d-pad or stick on the controller. This is the best way to get online with the Xbox for the first time, or even to renew your subscription if you bust your headset or want the chatpad.
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on April 18, 2012
I am very happy with this product. This is a great deal for everything you get in this kit. I would recommend, however, purchasing this from Amazon as retail stores are selling this for the full retail price ($74.99).
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on May 21, 2011
I needed to renew my XBL membership, and also needed a new headset so I went with this.

-Little known fact, the chat pad works in the Netflix search field ;)
I was buying this more for the membership, XBL points, and headset and didn't really care about the chat pad, but now that I have it, I don't know how I ever lived without it. It doesn't add much weight to the gamepad, but it adds some length. It looks a little funny at first, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was rather comfortable in the hands.

-The headset is similar to the ones that come with the xbox (might be the same as the ones that come with the new model xboxes) It's kinda cheap, but not terrible, and it gets the job done.
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on April 23, 2013
This is honestly a great value for the casual gamer. A one-year subscription to Xbox Live already costs around $50. This starter kit isn't much more expensive and you get a headset and keyboard with it. It also came with 400 Microsoft Points that you can redeem to use on DLC's and other Marketplace purchases. Headset works great - I can hear my friends clearly and vice versa. The mic does have to be pretty close to your mouth for it to pick up your voice though (I just talk normally and have never had to shout). They keyboard works as it should. The keyboard has an input for the headset so you can use them simultaneously.

I've had this product for about a month now and everything is still working fine.
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on April 20, 2012
Chatpad: 5 stars. Back-lighted, allows me to search for movies, youtube videos, and set up recordings on media center extender very easily (works for entering various passwords too). I can still game with the controller with it on without issue (Battlefield 3) and I would argue it adds a nice weight to the controller. Its a little scary snapping it in place with so much force (plastic on plastic) so be careful, but once it is in hopefully you dont have to change it too often. Still has the 2.5mm headset port available on the bottom.

12 mo Xbox live card: Well it came as described, and the overall value was worth it in this package.

Headset: The worst of the bunch, but if you want to try out VOIP capabilities for the xbox without investing in a fancier wireless headset, this works just fine. It has a mute/unmute button which is useful (for the mic audio only). You can also swivel the mic to and from your face. Speaker quality is passable. The shirt clip is clumsy and takes a while for me to get on every time. I plug it into the chatpad. Another option would be to use a standard headset from a cell phone and plug it into the jack with a 2.5-3.5mm converter, but I doubt the mute capability would work (unless it was an in-line mute function).

The whole package was $49.99 and was well worth the extra $14 above the 12 month Xbox live gold card alone. As a bonus it also came with a 400 Xbox live point card.
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on April 20, 2012
when I set out looking to extend my xbox live membership, I didnt get very far before I happened upon this product.

I'll review in reverse, from least significant to most significant.

1- 400 ms points, ok, not really a whole lot you can do with only 400 points, but theres some good things out there on the xbl market place, so this one gets a nod in favor.

2- the chat pad, I cannot tell you enough how painful it can be trying to type out a message, or enter a prepaid code, via the onscreen gui.. 90% of the gamers I know who didnt have a chatpad would use the xbox website for code entries. this is a godsend.

it also adds some real estate in terms of areas to hold the controller, which I admit.. at times, feels positively tiny in my paw-like hands, so even if you do not use the chat pad for much? this adds some much needed space to hold onto.

3- the headset, I admit this is the one part of the product I worry about given its flimsy appearance, but if you're someone who takes care of their toys, I foresee this to have a VERY long and useful life.

4- the 12 month subscription card. possibly the most important item in the box.. 12 months of xbox live gold. I really dont think I can say anything that hasnt already been said.

considerations- sold seperately? you'd pay close to a hundred bucks, maybe more, depending where you shop, here? $63.24 as of today's price. a definite money savings here.

conclusion- worth the purchase.
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