About a month ago, I reviewed a gaming mouse, headset, and mousepad from SteelSeries and promised that I would follow up with a review for the upcoming Freedom to Play line of products.
As promised, I am now here after testing out two of the new FTP products; the Flux Luxury Edition gaming headset, and the SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Controller. The Flux LE headset is pretty much the exact same thing as the Guild Wars headset in my last review, but with a few key differences that make this edition a far superior version. First off, unless you’re a huge, diehard Guild Wars fan, the GW edition probably isn’t the most attractive headset, with its loud white and orange decor. The Flux LE is a lot more muted, bringing you a nice matte black finish with a cool, grey circuit board design for the side plates on each ear cup.
Second, from a comfort standpoint, the Flux LE is far superior, as the ear pads themselves are made of a nice, thick, squishy (for lack of a better term), leather material. You ears essentially sink into the leather, almost like a pillow. Because the pads are thicker as well, it serves to cancel ambient noise much better than the many other headsets.
The Flux LE comes with two sets of cables; a mobile connection which is just a single cord (give or take 4 ft), and a PC connection, which has a split-off with an audio jack and a mic jack (also 4 ft). It also comes with a spare set of ear plates, this one a glossy black finish. A nice carrying pouch is included as well, even though I really won’t get a chance to use it much. If you travel or commute on a daily basis though, the pouch might come in handy.
The frame is the exact same thing as the one found in the Guild Wars headset, meaning it’s great. It’s made out of the same rubber/silicone “memory foam” material, and is just as comfortable. For those with bigger heads (like myself), you may find that the Flux LE rests more comfortably overall. I suspect this has to do with the fact that since the ear pads are thicker, the overall frame doesn’t “pinch” as much since it’s spread out more. Whatever the case may be, the Flux LE is an extremely comfortable headset.
Performance-wise, the Flux certainly gets the job done. While it may not come with 5.1 surround with a variety of sound angle options and whatnot, you’re certainly not going to be hurting when it comes to quality. My games of choice (Battlefield 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3) both sounded spectacular, with deep booming bass and various sounds coming from side to side. I also listened to some music (Van Halen, of course), and watched a couple of movies and TV shows on my tablet, and for each of those, the sound quality was excellent.
The SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Controller is an interesting device, as recently it seems that mobile gaming controllers are making a push for popularity. Those who have read my pieces in the past know that there is nothing I hate more than a touch screen controller overlay. You can’t mimic a button on a screen that is not an actually button; you just can’t.
With the Free Mobile Wireless Controller, you now don’t have to fake it. The controller is no bigger than a small smartphone. It’s extremely thin as well, about the thickness of a deck of cards. It was able to slide into my pocket along with my cell phone and keys without it feeling like too much of an obstruction. I was even able to slide it into my shirt pocket without it weighing the shirt down or looking like I had some weird growth coming out of my nipples.
As far as functionality goes, the controller worked with a good number of games. Obviously certain games where the primary means of locomotion or looking around involving tilting the phone wouldn’t work. Real Racing 2 did not work, neither did NFS Shift. However, games like Cordy, GTA III, Shadowgun, and Sonic CD all worked fine. Some games, like The Amazing Spider-Man, I felt should have worked, but the controller wasn’t supported. I suspect that more and more games will jump on the external controller bandwagon, as SteelSeries, PowerA, even the OnLive controller all work on many mobile games. A full list of compatible games can be found here.
Setting up the Free Mobile Wireless Controller was extremely easy as well. After charging it up, all that was needed was to hold down the A button until you see a white flash, then pair with your device via Bluetooth. The whole process took probably 2 minutes.
The controller is compatible with PC (with Bluetooth), Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android devices. It’ll get a full charge in 2 hours, and has a battery life of 10+ hours. The layout of the controller should look familiar to anyone who’s played a video game in the past few decades. It includes 2 analog joysticks, a dpad, 2 triggers, 4 face buttons, and “Start/Select” buttons.
The $79.99 price tag might be a little steep for something that is only compatible with a select number of mobile and PC games, but its value will be up to you. If you happen to be a heavy mobile gamer who hates using the touchscreen, then something like this may be exactly the sort of thing you’re look for. Smartphones and tablets are quickly becoming a viable gaming “console;” opinions on that will differ, yes, but the fact of the matter is that mobile gaming is HUGE right now. A controller can help make a usually tedious gaming experience much more smooth. With that in mind, the SteelSeries Free Mobile Wireless Controller is a very safe bet.