When it comes to competitive online gaming, a good headset isn’t just an option; it’s a necessity. Microsoft knew this when they included a wired communicator with every Xbox 360 and Xbox Live subscription pack, but that’s little use for PlayStation 3 owners looking to take full advantage of Sony’s free PlayStation Network. Unlike its competitor, however, the PlayStation 3 doesn’t come bundled with any sort of voice-communications device, which means you’ll have to pick from several variations – and brands – if you want to experience the service’s full potential. Rather than sit quietly in the shadows and hope for the best, it’s time to jump right into the world of online voice-chat with one of the least-expensive and fully-functioning headsets on the market with the Rocketfish Bluetooth Mono Headset.
Unlike the company’s wired headset for the PlayStation 3, this Bluetooth-enabled version is a completely wireless experience that focuses on just one thing – voice communication. There’s certainly no shortage of Bluetooth devices for the console, thanks to Sony’s insistence on using the technology, but few offer the immediate price-break of Rocketfish’s relatively inexpensive option. After all, when Sony’s first-party headsets can run upwards of $50 or more, why bother with supposed ‘inferior’ options when you can simply pay the same amount and get the genuine article instead? Thankfully, that’s a niche that Rocketfish has always excelled at, and I’m happy to report their wireless headset is no exception. This is a geat little device that works almost perfectly, and is bundled with enough extras to more than justify exploring the brighter side of third-party alternatives.
Voice-chat can turn practically any online game into a fuller, more rich experience by the simple fact you’re communicating directly, and anything that helps make life – even virtual life – easier is fine by me. As I spend most of time online these days in the fighting game arena, having the ability to discuss gameplay, strategy, and most importantly, combos with friends and allies alike is crucial for helping to step up my own game. Not that a little post-frag taunting isn’t always a joy, but for a growing number of online games simply boasting and laying on the requisite smack-talk is no longer enough. This is especially true for any game that practically requires voice as part of its strategy, such as M.A.G., Halo, or any real competitive first-person shooter with cooperative gameplay.
If you’re familiar with synching Bluetooth devices to the PlayStation 3 you’ll be familiar with how to navigate the console’s menu system to ‘pair’ your device before using it for the first time. The company was nice enough to include generic earbuds for small, medium, and larger ears (like mine), and I’m happy to report that I was able to squeeze more than the suggested 8 hours of constant use before needing to recharge my device. Speaking of charging, also included are an AC wall charger and USB charging cable that’s capable of charging practically any USB device – iPods included. This is a nice bonus that’s practically worth the cost of the headset itself.
Rocketfish’s headset feels comfy enough when looped around your ear, and can be easily twisted to accommodate both left and right ear usage. The volume adjustment buttons are right on the side of the device, and are easy enough to reach (a quick-mute button is sadly missing). As the product name implies, this is a mono-only device, and the sound quality reflects this. Voices from other players sounded clear enough, although the actual quality of these transmissions will vary depending on your internet connection settings and distance from your game console. I like to sit a good 8 feet away from my HDTV while playing, and never experienced any vocal distortion that was bad enough to ruin the experience.
As with any Bluetooth device, whether this one will work with your non-PlayStation 3 device depends entirely on what your other non-PlayStation 3 device is. Rocketfish claims its running Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and is compatible with “most Bluetooth cell phones and audio devices.” I wasn’t able to test this for myself, and would recommend caution to anyone hoping to replace their current (non-gaming) set-up with this one.
Overall, the Rocketfish Bluetooth Mono Headset is exactly what its name implies; a relatively inexpensive, Bluetooth-compatible headset that easily pairs to the PlayStation 3 console and livens up the online experience with full voice-chat options. The headset was easy to use and incredibly comfy, and the sound quality coming through was clear throughout my extensive gameplay sessions. The lack of a quick-mute button was disappointing, but the ability to quickly turn on/off the device made up for it somewhat. The added bonus of having an extra USB wall charger only adds to the overall value, and I can easily say this is a great alternative that stands up to Sony’s more expensive Bluetooth options.
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