Founded in 1979, Saitek specializes in chess simulators and other electronic games, as well as PC gamepads, joysticks, and racing wheels. The company also offers a few audio peripherals, including the lackluster A-350 wireless headphones. At first glance, these sleek, unique black and red neckband earbuds look promising, with their compact design and the included low-profile Bluetooth wireless transmitter (measuring 2.1 by 0.75 by 0.5 inches). But use the headphones for just a day with your portable device of choice, and you'll soon discover why we can't recommend them.
In terms of design, the Saitek A-350 is mediocre. The headset breaks down into three components: a left earpiece, a right earpiece, and a semiflexible, interchangeable band that connects the two. Saitek supplies several bands of different lengths, allowing you to choose whichever offers the best fit. Nonetheless, we found the headset more cumbersome and less comfortable than some nonadjustable neckband headsets. The headset's volume controls are intuitively located on the outside of the left and right earpieces. However, iPod users will get more functionality from the Logitech Wireless Headphones for the iPod, which include not only volume controls but also play/pause, next-track, and previous-track buttons.
The headset and the transmitter each have an on/off switch. The two automatically pair when they're powered on, and the transmitter has a Pair button to reestablish the link if it dies. A plastic clip is supplied to attach the transmitter module to its headphone plug, thereby preventing it from dangling loose from your portable audio player. You can connect an included 3.5-foot cord to the headset to convert it into a set of wired headphones, but unfortunately, battery power is required even in wired mode. Saitek says you can expect approximately 6 hours of battery life when the A-350 is fully charged, but we found that the batteries tended to die after less than 4 hours of use. When the Saitek A-350 runs out of juice, you can use the included power cable to charge it up, and it takes less than 2 hours to fully charge the headphones. A protective case measuring 6.5 by 4.5 by 1.5 inches rounds out the package.
In terms of audio quality, the Saitek A-350 Bluetooth headphones are decent. Treble and midrange sound reasonably clear without being abrasive, but bass response is fairly minimal. We also experienced frequent audio dropouts on occasions when we stashed the transmitter in a pants pocket and went for walks outdoors. Otherwise, we were generally able to stand across the room from the transmitter without issue (Saitek claims a range of up to 33 feet), but this takes away from the fact that the headphones are designed to be portable.
At $99, the Saitek A-350 is less expensive than competing products from Logitech, but we nonetheless prefer the latter's offerings, due to their superior performance and design.