Thursday, November 09, 2006

Review: Xbox 360 Wireless Headset

The other day Maranda and I were in our local Toys R' Us laser tagging things for our baby registry. When we were finished we headed over to the "R Zone" (the video games department). After checking out any newly released DS games I strolled over to the XBOX accessories. There, much to my surprise, I saw one final wireless headset sitting there in all its glory.

Now, Maranda loves gaming gadgets as much as I, but even so I had a considerably difficult time explaining to her the value of a wireless headset. After all, the wired headset works well, and even though it has that evil wire... the controller doesn't. It's not like you NEED to have a wireless headset. In the end, I didn't win her over to believing it was a purchase of value... but I bought it anyway.

Probably the most critical aspect you need to worry about when purchasing any headset, aside from sound quality, is comfort. It you can't wear it during a long, drawn out gaming session then the value of the product is significantly lessened. After latching it on to my ear, I was surprised to discover that it held quite firmly. Even while messing with the volume buttons, it hardly ever moved. For Maranda, unfortunately, it was a different story. She is, well, rather diminutive (read: small) and has smaller ears to match. She couldn't get it to stabilize on her ear regardless of the positions we tried. In addition, she also pointed out that people whom wear glasses (as she does) may have problems wearing both at the same time. I concede that this could be a problem, so if you wear glasses... be wary of you purchase.

Included in the package is the charger. There are two important things to note. First, know that unlike the 360 controller, you cannot use the headset and charge it at the same time. Second, it charges via a wall outlet instead of using USB. Now, I've read other reviews that have called this an 'issue'. I'm going to blatantly disagree; I think it was a wise move. Since you can't use it while it's charging, there is no point in having it leach off of one of the three precious USB ports. Four hours of charging gives you about 20 to 30 hours of gameplay.

The sound quality is on par, and sometimes better, than the wired headset we've all become accustomed to. There really isn't too much to say here, since the old headset's quality wasn't all that bad to begin with in most cases.

The largest benefit this headset gives you is reliability. In the wired headset, the component most likely to break first is, in fact, the connections on either end of the wire. As any person with experience will tell you that a soldiered connection is always the weakest point in the wire. Personally, I've already had one of my wired headsets fall to this fate of the wire coming loose. Two of my friends have also reported the same problem.

To conclude, at such a high price point it is a difficult sell to anyone. The advantages it gives you are small but, in comparison, the negatives are just as small. I'm going to go ahead and recommend it, but only for its 'coolness factor' and only if you've got cash to spare.