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Wireless gaming headsets mix performance with functionality

Some wireless headphones are designed specifically to suit the needs of video game enthusiasts. Gaming headsets include microphones for chatting with virtual teammates, and usually feature several buttons and settings that don't appear on headphones intended for home theater use alone.

However, not all wireless gaming headphones will work with all gaming platforms. Some only work best with a specific video game console like the Microsoft Xbox 360; workarounds are possible, but often at the cost of missing features.

Heavy-duty gamers need a powerful, dynamic-sounding wireless headset that can be set up quickly so they can get into the action with little fuss. For Xbox 360 owners, the Tritton Warhead 7.1 (Est. $225) goes above and beyond to deliver the top-notch performance and ease of access players expect. Once the base station is set up, this headset syncs right to the Xbox 360 with a few quick button presses, which both critics and gamers appreciate.

The Warhead 7.1 also sounds amazing, reviewers say. "Audio is crisp, with clear distinction between low-, mid-, and high-tones, but bass still possesses nice warmth," says OXM (Official Xbox Magazine) editor Alaina Yee. "Audiophiles who dig this kind of precise tuning will like the Warhead; your chest will rattle with the deep boom of heavy artillery in military games like 'Call of Duty,' 'Gears' and 'Halo,' but the ping of bullet casings hitting the floor still comes through sharply."

IGN.com's Nic Vargus makes similar statements, noting that this premium wireless gaming headphone sounds great on any of its EQ settings.

Critics across the board love the Warhead's secondary battery pack that greatly extends its already excellent battery life. T3.com reviewer Steve Boxer commends the decision to include an extra battery, which can be charged on the base station when not in use for a quick swap to keep downtime to a minimum.

"Unlike all other wireless headsets, there's no need to wire it up temporarily while it recharges," he adds. While the Warhead is designed specifically for the Xbox 360, reviewers say it works with PCs and the Sony PlayStation 3, but you do lose the voice chat function.

For those who do most of their gaming on a PC or Mac, the Logitech G930 (Est. $110) also gets strong positive feedback. Its wireless signal is sent from a USB dongle transmitter that plugs into an available USB port on your computer, and experts say signal strength is a highlight.

"In practice, the wireless connection worked surprisingly well, letting us take our music all around a Wi-Fi-laden house with a minimum of static or noise, and when the connection did cease it was all at once, and always due to wandering outside the unit's range," Sean Hollister writes at Engadget.com. The Logitech wireless headphones also include a flip-down microphone and a number of controls on the left ear, many of which are programmable.

Sound quality can't be beat, reviewers say. "The G930 is one of the most superb PC headsets -- gaming or no -- that we've ever tried," Hollister adds. Both Engadget.com and PCMag.com test the G930's chops while playing "Team Fortress 2," and editors report clean, clear and distortion-free audio even with the volume maxed out. Similarly strong results are seen when listening to movies and television shows.

Critics do find a few flaws, however; as with many wireless headsets, the bass isn't the richest around. Engadget.com's Hollister says the claimed Dolby Pro Logic II 7.1 surround sound is "more novelty than reality," although he admits it doesn't take away from the audio quality. He wishes the battery issued an audible warning before dying outright, and users dislike the push-in design of the power button. The fact that this headset doesn't work with video gaming consoles also limits its appeal.

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