The perfect wi-fi gaming headset is slowly driving me up the wall


For those who’re going to make the most effective product in the marketplace, please go all the way in which.

Working example: the SteelSeries Arctis Professional Wi-fi is likely one of the greatest wi-fi gaming headsets ever made. In 2018, I examined it towards each single competitor in the marketplace (seriously, all of them), and none might beat its mixture of fantastic audio high quality, a transparent microphone, unbelievable wi-fi vary, oodles of connectivity, and twin swappable batteries.

It’s an almost good gadget — however a few instances per week, that “practically” half makes me wish to scream.

Right here’s how I described residing with the Arctis Professional Wi-fi earlier this year:

If I’m gaming with buddies and desire a snack, I don’t must cease chatting — I simply stroll a number of rooms away to the kitchen and the audio by no means cuts out. When a too-loud recreation drowns out my buddies, I faucet the dial beneath the ear cup to rebalance the audio between “recreation” and “chat” — it offers you two completely different audio gadgets in Home windows. When the battery runs out, I can simply pop a spare battery pack out of the bottom station and swap it in underneath 15 seconds. I make a variety of calls with the Arctis Professional Wi-fi, too, due to its built-in Bluetooth.

It’s true! There’s only one tiny factor I uncared for to say: the act of preserving it powered on can contain common embarrassment.

Virtually each week, I’ll inevitably be on a Zoom or Groups or Skype or Slack or Discord name after I’ll hear the dreaded beep — the beep which means the battery is sort of useless. Not “25 % battery remaining” or “five-minute warning,” thoughts you. The beep means I in all probability have 90 seconds to apologize to my dialog companions, seize a freshly charged pack, flick the previous one out, pop the brand new one in, and maintain down the ability button for what appears like an eternity whereas frantically gesturing to my boss / colleagues / interviewees to allow them to know sure I’m okay and I’m terribly sorry for losing their time however isn’t expertise hilarious?

(Many Verge colleagues have witnessed me doing this dance. Miraculously, I’ve thus far escaped with out it changing into a meme.)

If all goes properly, my headset will come again to life, and I’ll fake it by no means occurred. However as typically as not, the embarrassing warmth of the second will result in much more embarrassment — I’ll press the ability button, however the headset nonetheless received’t activate as a result of I didn’t press it fairly lengthy sufficient.

The SteelSeries Arctis Professional Wi-fi’ twin energy buttons on the underside of the best ear cup.
Picture by Sean Hollister / The Verge

You see, the Arctis Professional Wi-fi has two energy buttons positioned proper subsequent to one another — one to connect with your PC or console, and one for the Bluetooth radio that lets it connect with your cellphone. To activate Bluetooth, you solely must briefly faucet the button. Like most different Bluetooth headsets, holding it down too lengthy throws the headset into pairing mode.

However the Arctis Professional Wi-fi’ main energy button is simply the other: you have to carry it to energy on. And whereas the product guide says you solely want to carry it down for 2 seconds, it truly takes 2.25 seconds… and a full 3.5 seconds earlier than you get any audible affirmation that the headset responded to your command.

That further second appears like an eternity whenever you’re miming an “virtually prepared, be proper there!” gesture in Zoom. And typically — between that delay and the concern that possibly I stabbed the Bluetooth button as a substitute of the ability button in my haste — I wind up letting go of the button too early and must repeat the cycle once more.

All of this assumes the headset truly warns me that it’s powering itself off, after all! The primary few months I used the headset, I by no means received any warning in any respect. Seems, if you stop the base station from beeping every time you switch menus, it turns off the low battery alert as properly. And as soon as each month or two, I’ll additionally expertise a sudden lack of energy with no warning in any respect — usually after I’m taking part in a recreation or listening to music at low quantity. My greatest guess is that the headset’s auto-power-off perform is a poor listener and doesn’t understand I’m nonetheless taking part in.

Would I eliminate my Arctis Professional Wi-fi? Under no circumstances. It’s a implausible gadget I exploit day-after-day for video games, conferences, and calls, even when I wasn’t gone the window for return. I’ve accepted that common embarrassment is the worth I’ll pay. However it’s so tantalizingly near being price its $330 worth in US {dollars} as properly — which, final I checked, made it the one most costly wi-fi gaming headset in the marketplace. If SteelSeries made it barely extra comfy / adjustable for bigger heads, ironed out these energy points, and reinforced the hinge, a future model could be price each penny.

In the intervening time, here are the best wireless and wired gaming headsets we’re truly recommending proper now.



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