Despite the fact that the Messenger Kit is aimed primarily at the instant messenger functionality in Xbox Live, the Chat Pad also makes general text input far easier. So, if you're sending a message to a friend on Xbox Live, or typing in your details to retrieve a gamer tag (as I did before writing this review), or even typing in a character name within a game, the Chat Pad does away with the need to use a horrid on-screen virtual keyboard!
The Xbox Live instant messenger implementation is pretty good, and goes some way to Microsoft expanding its Windows Live service to another platform. You can decide whether you want to be automatically logged into MSN messenger when you switch your X360 on, much like you can choose whether you want to automatically connect to Xbox Live. Anyone on MSN will see you online, but will also be told what game you're playing - assuming that you're playing a game of course.
If you're playing a game and someone sends you an instant message it will flash up on the screen, just like when one of your Friends logs on. However, only the initial message will flash up, subsequent messages from the same person will not interrupt your play. With the Chat Pad though, the Messenger button flashes when you've received a message from anyone that you're currently talking to, so you can choose whether or not to have a look at what they have to say. Pressing the green function button and the arrow key will cycle through your active conversations, making it very easy to switch between chats.