There were several headset manufacturers at PAX 08, many with elaborate booths in the middle of the show floor. Plantronics seemed to have gotten shafted a little bit, as they were shoved right up against the wall at the show floor. They may not have had a flashier booth, but they did have several models of gaming headsets to show off. The one “booth babe” they had was a member of the PMS Clan, who was busy playing an online game against some unfortunate soul.
Plantronics offers several headsets for PC gaming, all of which were piled up next to each other on a table. They all looked very similar, so it was difficult to tell them apart just from their initial appearance. Some of the headsets are standard no-frills stereo sets, while their top-of-the-line features Dolby Headphone technology and an in-line soundcard with EAX support.
Their GameCom 777 Surround Sound Gaming Headset features Dolby Headphone technology, which not only allows gamers to experience positional sound in games, but listen to music and watch movies in 5.1 surround. The headset uses only two drivers, and the in-line sound card does all the audio processing to simulate positional sounds. The headset is analog AND USB 2.0 (just plug the stereo cable into the included USB soundcard), and is completely driverless, so there is no lengthy install process.
The GameCom headsets were also designed to be extemely comfortable. Many of them are around-the-ear design and have lots of space between the temples. Many nerds (like myself) are glasses-wearers, and some headsets like to pinch them into my head. The large headphones fit comfortably around my ears, and use foam, which passively reduce noise. The show floor was much noisier than a typical LAN party, but ambient noise was still very noticable.
I asked if Plantronics is working on an active noise-cancelling technology, but they are not. It appears that no game headset manufacturers are interested in this technology, but as a gamer and industry analyst, I’m telling you that this is something gamers NEED.
Plantronics was also shogin off their GameCom 367 and GameCom 377 PC headsets. They are also built from lightweight materials and foam earpods which are very comfortable. The 367 has large 50mm stereo speakers and a closed-ear headset. The 377 has an open-ear design, which allows gamers to keep tabs on their surroundings. Both of these headsets are analog stereo, and have thick cables.
All of their headsets feature a unique ‘hide-away’ boom microphone, which tucks into the headband, giving the headset the appearance of DJ-style headphones. I mentioned in our Steelseries Siberia Neckband Headset review that more vendors need to implement a hide-away microphone, so they apparently listened. Of course, it also features in-line volume and microphone mute controls, which is standard fare on any gaming headset.
The GameCom 777 is priced at $99.99, the 367 costs $49.99, and the 367 is available for $39.99. I’m always a fan of things being cheaper, but from my experience you do get what you pay for, especailly when it comes to headphones. I didn’t get a chance to experience the sound quailty of these headsets, but review units are coming, so stay tuned, True Believers!