by Ryan Perry on September 29, 2014 in Audio & Media
Gamers hate lag, and many of them think that it goes hand-in-hand with wireless peripherals. So when SteelSeries stepped-up with its H Wireless headset, it was hard to not take notice given the company’s passion for gaming and eSports. With a unit in the lab, let’s find out if it’s actually possible to have a gaming-worthy wireless headset.
A lot of gamers continue to pass over wireless peripherals because they think that since it’s a wireless device, it must suffer from excess latency, which will ultimately affect performance. I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the same way, and up until last month was a devout wired gamer.
After looking at the SteelSeries Sensei Wireless mouse however, all bets were off after it impressed me with outstanding, latency free operation. It was then that I knew another email to SteelSeries was in order to see if we could review the crème de la crème of its popular H-Series headsets, the H Wireless. Thankfully the fine folks there agreed, otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to write about, and you wouldn’t have anything to read.
All joking aside, the H Wireless stereo headset promises to be virtually latency free while providing some killer surround sound thanks to three separate Dolby virtual surround sound technologies. It’s also designed to work with any platform, whether it’s a PC or Mac, an XBox or Playstation, hooked up to your home theater system, or even a mobile device.
The H Wireless headset features some pretty understated styling that’s not far off from the rest of the H-Series. Unlike some headsets that can be taken on the road, but are so ugly that you’d probably never step out the door wearing them, the H Wireless looks like just another set of cups from the outside, and not a gaming headset.
There’s a lot to cover, so let’s start with the rather large over the ear cups. Each one features some very cushy foam wrapped in faux leather, while the laser straight orange stitching continues on with SteelSeries’ colour scheme, as does the interior lining.
Both cups rotate so that they can lay flat when worn around the neck, or if you’re like me most times, allows for one cup to be on the ear while the other sits behind so that I can still hear what’s going on in the house, like my young son falling out of his bed in the room above. Ouch!
The left cup contains the retractable, unidirectional microphone, which goes a long way in helping the H Wireless blend in when used on the go with a mobile device. The arm of the mic is flexible and when fully extended, sits at the corner of the mouth. The end of the mic is also wrapped with an LED ring that glows red when muted.
Moving over to the right cup we have the volume and menu control wheel. Simply rotate the wheel to control the volume, or push it in to access the menu on the transmitter/receiver. Once in the menu, rotating the wheel will navigate through the options and pushing in will make the selection.
Along the bottom edge of the right cup is the power button that fires up the headset with a long press, but also mutes the mic when pressed quickly. When powered on the white LED light set into the button will blink. Next to the power/mute button is a rubber capped set of ports that can share audio with a second device, and allows the XBox chat feature to be used.
Rotating the glossy cover on the left cup counter clockwise gives access to the reachable battery, which SteelSeries claims has a life of about 20 hours based on typical usage.
Behind the cover on the right cup is the port for the mini-USB cable so that the headset can be connected directly and to charge the battery.
The inside of the headband has more soft foam to help cushion any downward force. On the outside of the headband is some SteelSeries branding with the logo above each cup and SteelSeries embossed on the rubber insert across the top.
To match the clean styling of the headset, SteelSeries has gone with a similarly understated transmitter/receiver. This little black box houses an OLED display and shows the various menus and current status. Rotating the large nob moves through the current menu and pushing it in will select the current option. The small button next to it functions as the back button to move to the previous menu. Around the right side of the box is the battery charger, which has been integrated and helps to cut down on clutter.
On the back side are ports for analog in, chat out, the power connector, a mini-USB port, and optical in and out.
Included with the H Wireless is a USB cable, an optical cable, analog, chat and mobile cables, a second rechargeable battery, and a power adapter along with whatever type of plug you need to get this bad boy to work in your neck of the woods.
There’s also a manual and a SteelSeries sticker, but in order to fit all of that in we’d need to stretch things out over two pictures. Who has time for that? We don’t, so we decided to dive straight into the setup and testing.