SteelSeries H Wireless Headset Review: They thought of Everything
If you haven’t been shopping around for wireless devices in a while, you may be surprised at just how far they have come over the last few years. It took a while for me personally to adapt to the wireless push, as a now early-thirties editor, I still remember the beginning days of wireless everything, none of it was that terrific. There was the terrible battery-charges, annoying connections, the limited use, and it all wrapped-up with a large price-tag. Since those darkened, early days, Bluetooth technology solved almost all of those problems, but battery-life and low-functionality still couldn’t compete with the plug-in models. Now SteelSeries appeared to have a perfect solution for all of my complaints.
I would never talk about battery-life straight away when reviewing headsets, I’ve reviewed dozens upon dozens in the past, and even with previous wireless headsets battery-life wasn’t a topic I’d start with, but the H Series made it a point to be perfect, and I have to give them credit for it. Gaming and general movie-watching and internet use on headsets is measured in hours, not minutes; so even wireless headsets had to be plugged-in eventually, and they ultimately became what they set out to overtake, a wired-connection to your computer or device.
SteelSeries ingenious solution to the age-old problem? You need two batteries, one to use while the other charges, and both should come with the headset. So it was done, included in your purchase price are two hot-swappable Lithium-Ion batteries. It’s remarkably simple I know, but I couldn’t even find a comparable product that offers two-batteries and the same functions while I researched other headsets to shop. Take it one step further now. What if the batteries never needed wires to charge? Well they don’t. The battery that you are using is nestled under one of the ear-cuff covers in one simple snap, and the other simply slides into the same connection hub that you use as your input and control-center, it’s perfect. It’s a wireless headset that never needs wires (except for firmware updates I’m assuming, but this is for general use so I’m giving them the credit).
Moving on, I’m going to talk about the connections, another previous pitfall in wireless headsets from days past. As I said earlier, Bluetooth solved many of these problems, but there are still a few lingering issues with using third party software, or hardware in the case of consoles or PCs, to connect to the wireless headset. Other companies used USB dongles, or similar means to create the connection, and then the USB dongle would need compatible software to connect to the headset and work with the device.
Sometimes these worked without issue, other times you would spend hours holding down a button with flashing lights hoping that your console would ‘find’ what you were holding in your hands this whole time. SteelSeries went one step further and made the connection Hub that I talked about earlier, which provides a seamless connection right away to the headset, and a wired connection is established from the connection hub to the device, so there’s no pairing, just one SteelSeries device connecting to another.
This connection hub (or transmitter) is much more than a simple base to connect to, it offers an OLED display so you can easily maneuver from one audio or wireless configuration to another. You can adjust system settings, create unique profiles, change the volume from the station, or check on both batteries’ current charge. You can control the base station from the headset, or directly on the hub if it’s close by; like I said they thought of everything.
Staying with the connections for just a few more points, SteelSeries is sold all over the world, so it has to be compatible with quite a few devices and power supplies. Each box contains anything you need to connect to an Xbox 360, PS3/4, PC/Mac, AppleTV/Roku, home entertainment system, mobile devices, home-media centers, or other common electronic devices. There are even adapters depending on what voltage you use in your country. My favorite little touch, each cable came in a separate bag, marked with a sticker indicating if it was for PC, Xbox or so on.
All of these little facts are the solutions to previous issues, but how they perform at the end of the day is what will matter most. I was sad to see that the self-adjusting suspension design of the previous SteelSeries Elite didn’t continue with this headset but this new device is one of the lightest on the market. Wireless gaming and entertainment use is measured in hours after all, and these shouldn’t be any problem to wear during that time.
These offer 7.1 virtual surround sound, and I put it through every new game I had on my office desktop to test them out. From ‘Titanfall’ to ‘Elder Scrolls Online’ to even going back to ‘Call of Duty Ghosts,’ it was one of the best 7.1 virtualizers I have have ever tested. Having a retractable mic I consider standard now, so it existing on the headset doesn’t quite earn it points with me, but it was a perfect mic for all games. The mic can even glow red if you like when muted.
One great touch was the ChatMix controls from the transmitter, which allows you to control the voice-sound and the in-game sound, so if one is overpowering the other, you can adjust it on the fly, or create a profile. On the profile note, you can also add adjustments to the Five-band EQ, to maximize the sound emitting from the Dolby Digital, Dolby Headphone, and Dolby Pro Logic IIx technologies hidden away inside.
With a $299 pricetag, I know the H Series will be out of reach for some, but I do think they rank at the absolute top of the wireless gaming and entertainment spectrum, after I balanced out performance, compatibility and features. These aren’t just a pair of wireless headsets, they are a wireless solution to so many problems and setbacks that have plagued users in the past. You could save money and deal with these issues, or you could invest in something that is more convenient, more compatible and functions at more consistent level without as much hassell.
more info: steelseries, amazon