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Sony PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset review: Sony PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset

A telescoping boom mic juts out from the bottom of the left earcup, but while its length is adjustable, it doesn't bend like most microphones I've tested. Nevertheless, I didn't notice any real drop-off in clarity when it came to playing online multiplayer matches. From what I could gather, all of my teammates reported a clear performance from the PS3 headset.

For me, the most impressive feature of the PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset is without a doubt its simple-to-use-and-set-up interface. All players need to do is plug in the accompanying USB dongle, power on the device, and in a matter of seconds, you've got wireless sound from anything your PS3 is spitting out. It's not just games, either; Netflix, NHL Gamecenter, and any media file you play will stream to the headset.

Be careful with the included USB dongle. It looks a lot like any ordinary thumbdrive.

So how does the headset stack up in terms of actual sound performance? Well, here it's a mixed bag. Sure, I've been spoiled by the $200-plus wireless 5.1 surround-sound gaming headsets I've tested from brands like Astro and Turtle Beach that provide fantastic fidelity range and performance. The PS3 headset doesn't hit those notes, but it doesn't fall flat, either. Compared with every other similar product I've tested, the $100 headset performs far beyond what its price implies. It gives off an above-average sound with bass and treble seeming evenly mixed. It won't "wow" you with sound, but it also does a great job at handling a wide spectrum of noise.

Behind the top of the right earcup hides a virtual-surround-sound toggle switch, which Sony says will provide a virtual 7.1 effect. I'm going to have to recommend players steer clear of the effect. Not only does it probably drain the battery quicker, it just doesn't make that much of a difference where I wanted it on all the time. In fact, it really didn't seem to do anything except distort my spacial perception of objects on the screen. Long story short, the standard audio mode does a good enough job of sound location.

Finally, the internal rechargeable battery will net you around 5 to 7 hours of playback, which falls a bit shorter than I was hoping for. While that time seems like more than enough for a single session, there are a number of gamers out there who will want to use the headset for an extended period of time, and may find themselves needing to keep the headset charging when not in use. You'll need to bring your own USB cord for that, though; Sony doesn't include one in the box.

Overall the PS3 Wireless Stereo Headset is a surprisingly efficient and qualified entry into an already overcrowded gaming headset landscape. Its design is that of some really careful planning, and ease-of-use cannot be overstated. For $100, it really is worth considering for PS3 owners who want a foolproof way to play loud at night without waking the neighbors. Its virtual-surround function is mostly useless and it may be too late in its life cycle to dump $100 on a PS3 accessory, but this one performs well enough to justify a purchase.

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