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E3 2011: Mad Catz

by: John -
More On: E3 2011
I made my annual visit to Mad Catz at E3 and was greeted with a couple pretty cool products they are looking to release in the near future.

First up was a pretty unique headset for the Xbox 360. A while ago, they purchased Tritton, makers of some pretty good headsets. What Mad Catz and Tritton have for the Xbox 360 is going to be something that serious players will want to get their hands on.

The Tritton Warhead 7.1 the mack daddy of headsets for the Xbox 360. This is an all wireless headset that’s been made in conjunction with Microsoft. What that means is Tritton has access to the proprietary hardware that Microsoft uses for wireless audio. That brings forth a true wireless audio and chat solution for Xbox 360 owners.

While other competitors tout wireless chatting by using a Bluetooth dongle solution, the Warhead 7.1 connects with the Xbox 360 console wirelessly like the Xbox 360 Wireless headset. You just pair it up with the console and you’re good to go for both simulated 7.1 surround sound coming from two 50mm Neodymium drivers and chatting via a flexible and detachable boom mic. No more connecting to the controller with a wire or dongle if you want to chat, all working over 5.8GHz spectrum for minimal or no interference. That’s what partnering with Microsoft can do for you.

The Warhead 7.1 also lets you choose whether you want to hear your own voice when chatting. It’s a feature that some have desired and the headset has a switch to let you turn this on or off.

There are also two batteries that come with the headset so you can use one and have charging in the base unit constantly. Each battery should last around 8-10 hours, but with two in tow you won’t be running out of juice.

With the base unit, there are just two connectors: a USB connector for power and a digital audio connector for the sound. If you have an older unit, the Warhead 7.1 includes and adapter to connect a digital audio connector as well. The base unit also features a 3.5mm connector so if you want to plug in your iPod or some portable audio device to listen to with the Warhead, you can do so.

No official pricing has been announced but expect it to be somewhere under $300. That’s not to say it will be $299.99, but just to be somewhere under $300. Still, what Mad Catz shown looked pretty awesome for those that game a lot on the Xbox 360 and I’m anxious to get my ears on one of these to see how well they really work.

Two more headsets will be coming from Mad Catz and Tritton that will offer less features than the Warhead 7.1 The Devastator gives you wireless audio and chat like the Warhead, but without the surround sound option. It also runs on AA batteries instead of rechargeable batteries. For the low end model, there’s the Detonator, which is a wired solution. The Devastator and the Detonator will be priced accordingly.

Mad Catz is also coming out with a wireless Xbox 360 wheel that has both dual vibration and force feedback built in. Why both you ask? Well games like the upcoming Forza 4 will use both for different purposes. That’s pretty slick.

The wheel’s made with a metal chassis so it’ll be durable. There are pedal shifters on the back of the wheel and a gear shifter. What’s unique about the gear shifter is that you can put it on either the left or right side of the wheel so you can use either your left or right hand to shift. A dual pedal system connects to the base with an Ethernet cable.

The Ethernet connector on the base also servers a greater purpose. Mad Catz can update the firmware on the wheel through the connector so the wheel is future proof for those using slight variations of force feedback or vibration settings.

Again, no pricing but expect it to be out in time for Forza 4.

Finally, Mad Catz is going for a generic branding for their FPS controllers for the console. You might remember I reviewed the Black Ops version of the controller, but Mad Catz is just going to call their upcoming iteration the FPS Pro Gamepad.

There are LEDs that can change color in the base of each analog stick and the PS3 and the Xbox 360 each have different color selections. Like the Black Ops controller, they feature two buttons underneath that can be mapped to an action or thumbstick button. The Xbox 360 version is wired while the PS3 version uses a dongle. Both will be on sale for $39.99.

All in all, a great lineup coming out for Mad Catz on the console and the Warhead 7.1 headset was definitely the highlight of the visit. I can’t wait to check that bad boy out.

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