The following are my conclusions and observations following several hours of testing. It is possible that I missed a feature or two but I am quite confident that I was able to test all the major ones.
The setup and first impressions:
I don't know why, I imagined a bigger device. I am pleased to note that the keypad is a lot thinner than I imagined - about half an inch thick and pretty light.
It fits nicely on top of any standard PS3 controller thanks to a clamp that, once it clicks in, it makes the keypad appear as if it was part of the controller's body. The three controller buttons that it covers: PS3, Select and Start are present on the pad at their expected locations but they only work when the keypad is attached to the controller. All other buttons work regardless of the keypad being attached or detached.
The keyboard is okay but it's better suited for larger hands (or long thumbs). As a Blackberry user, I find this keyboard less comfortable than that of a classic Blackberry - but I've been using Blackberies for almost 10 years already so I may be a little bit spoiled or maybe biased toward their ergonomics.
As far as workmanship is concerned, my impression is one of a well-built, durable device. It integrates well, visually and functionally with the PS3 controllers.
After a couple of hours of charging through the USB port (cable not included), the keypad is ready to use. Once the On/Off switch is set to On, all that's needed is for the keypad to be connected to the PS3 through a USB cable and the pairing is done automatically.
The keypad operates in two modes: as a keyboard or, interestingly, as a touch pad.
In keyboard mode, you get a QWERTY keyboard with well separated, round little keys. The letters, numeric and punctuation keys are where you would expect them to be but the special keys are not exactly at their familiar places and some of the less essential ones (PgUp, PgDn, End, Home and the function keys) are missing. Special characters can be entered with the help of 2 modifier keys (the Blue and the Orange).
Three special keys allow you to enable the touch pad mode or quickly jump to your PS3 message box or friends list icons - I did not find the last 2 very useful.
Until you make yourself familiar with some of the less obvious key combinations it's a good idea to save the instructions pamphlet (a 17"x11" folded sheet) found in the package.
The touch pad mode is very interesting in that, after pressing the 'touch pad key', the keyboard is disabled and a section of the keyboard emulates a laptop's touch pad and the 2 cursor keys emulate mouse buttons and you can interact with your environment as if you were using a mouse.
I am a 'knob' person as far as mouse emulation is concerned but, based on my testing, the touch pad mode, while interesting and innovative, is not very well implemented. For example, while in Browser mode, it does not allow you to scroll down your browser window, something that is easily and intuitively accomplished with the R3/L3 analog sticks. The cursor, when controlled with the touch pad was jumpy, either moving from one corner of the window to another or, sometimes, not moving at all. The good news is that all the controller buttons, including the sticks, are fully functional all the time so, people like me, won't have to use the touch pad.
+ Bluetooth device, does not require dongles or wires
+ Replaces a full-size keyboard, well suited for entering passwords or brief messages
+ Perfectly integrated, physically and functionally with the PS3 controller - generally, it does not interfere with game play
+ Rechargeable battery
+ According to Sony (not tested by me) it can be paired with other Bluetooth devices (don't lose that manual)
- Adds weight to the controller
- Some of the special keys are placed at unfamiliar locations
- Keys 'real estate' wasted by assigning 2 keys to jump to the message box and the friends list
- Touch pad does not work very well
- Small hands may find it a bit uncomfortable
Before I started writing this review, I thought I was going to award this keypad 3 stars but, once I listed the pros and the cons I see that the negatives are relatively minor. The major disappointment is the touch pad but it's not something that I am going to miss because I am already happy with the R3/L3. 3.5 stars should be the fair score but I am rounding it up to 4 because my overall impression is positive.
With HOME now a reality, this is likely to become an increasingly useful add-on.