Play Tested: Four Gaming Headsets Page 5

Sony PlayStation Wireless Surround headphones

Sony's graced a growing number of devices with the PlayStation name of late. But what used to stand as a mark of excellence is wearing away, as Sony seems intent on linking "PlayStation" with cheap, entry-level products.

With the PlayStation surround headset, the scant redeeming qualities are the price and how easy they are to set up. But, price is a double-edged sword; for $100, you can't expect much out of a pair or headphones. The simulated surround effect on these is okay, but far too much treble and a severe lack of bass sucks the drama out of even the most harrowing encounters. Climbing up the side of a train-car dangling over a cliff in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves lacked any sort of oomph as gusts of wind blended in with background music and later, the chatter of enemies as they closed in on treasure hunter Nathan Drake.

I've never had a headset work with my PS3 to 100% capacity out-of-the-box without a few snags. Whether it's the console not recognizing the headset's chat function or the console not outputting the audio format recognized by the headset, it's never been easy - until now. All you have to do for this pair of cans to work is plug the USB receiver into a USB drive on the console and turn the headset on. There's nothing to configure and no cables to plug in to get everything working and that's awesome. For once with the PS3, there's something simple.

The headset itself has a smart layout and design, despite a few flaws. The boom mic telescopes out of the left earcup, but the status light on the end reflected off my glasses, becoming enough of an annoyance that I covered it with electrical tape. Following the theme of "good enough," voice quality was serviceable, but nothing special. Tapping the left side of the headphones mutes the mic, and holding it powers the unit on and off. This was an elegant way to integrate a function into the form, eliminating the need for an obtrusive knob or button. On the other hand, sliders for volume and surround/voice ratio adjustment feel chintzy, without much resistance besides that offered by cheap plastic sliding over cheaper plastic. What I do like about the controls, though, is that adjusting either launches a pop-up prompt on my screen showing what I just moved, eliminating guesswork or the need to take the headphones off to see what's up.


* Super-easy setup; full * functionality out of the box* Build and sound quality parallels of headphones' low price
 * Surround doesn't work with Blu-rays, stereo only for non-game usage.