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CES 2011: SteelSeries

Posted by: John at 1/8/2011 3:23 PM
My first meeting for Friday at CES was with SteelSeries. Now these guys have been making PC products for a while now and are starting to get into the console area. They showed off two products to me that they announced at the show.

The SteelSeries Siberia Neckband headset is a white, behind the head headset that’s branded to match the iPhone, iPad, or iTouch. With these headphones, you stretch out the band as much as possible, put them around your ears, and let the band contract. As a person who enjoys this style of headphones instead of those that have the band over the top of the head, I was pretty comfortable wearing these.

The Siberia has a control unit that lets you control a music player that it’s attached to. You can also use the control unit the answer a call, with the Siberia featuring a retractable microphone that lets you talk and listen with the unit. The retractable microphone is very flexible and can be placed in a myriad of positions to bet suit your needs.

For $79.99, you can pick up the Siberia soon and they will even be available in the Apple Store, something that’s a nice little win for a smaller company like SteelSeries.

The other major headset that they talked about was the Spectrum 7XB headset for the Xbox 360. For starters, the 7XB comes apart in three pieces so you can pack them a little easier. The 7XB also has a flexible, retractable microphone that nicely stows away when not in use. For voice, the 7XB comes with a 360 connector that attaches to the audio port of the controller and connects to the headset via a micro-USB connector. I especially liked this design because micro-USB is made to be more durable and should hold up better.

Each ear piece features a 50-mm drivers and there are interchangeable cushions in both leather and cloth. If you’re going to be wearing the headset for a long time, cloth would be a better option as it won’t get as hot but it doesn’t block out as much sound as the leather ones. Controls are also on one of the earpieces with various modes to choose some to help improve sound quality based on the type of activity you are doing.

SteelSeries has put in some tweaks to help with online gaming. For example, when voice comes in from one of your partners, the headphones will subtly turn down the game sounds a tad so that the voice has a higher volume. This is done without making the voice louder and you’ll still be able to make out the sounds coming from the game even though it’s a little bit quieter. It’s a pretty intelligent way to handle audio and prioritizing what is important to you.

It is wireless so there’s a transmitter box that you plug into the 360 or a regular television and you’ll be able to pull audio from the source that way. Range should be around 32 feet and it has some automatic channel hoping capabilities to help give you clear audio throughout your gaming session. The 7XB needs two AA batteries and are not rechargeable, but should give you around 23 hours of usage. If you want a recharge solution, you’ll have to go with a set of rechargeable AA batteries.

I asked about any plans for a PlayStation 3 version, but they have none as of this time.

At a price of $149.99, the 7XB falls in line with many of the wireless headsets I’ve reviewed for the console. It was comfortable and quiet when using the leather cups and has some nice gaming features that should appeal to the hardcore gamers on the Xbox 360.