Creative’s latest Wireless Headset creates no end of conflict: while it's very good at what it should do, it also fails to be desirable at the same time. With excellent sound quality, an easy installation process and a great weight and feeling, there's also a lot of annoying junk that comes with the WoW Wireless headset - perhaps Creative got too wrapped up in the WoW culture when it was designing it?
We’ll reel back to the start though: installation. It was a breeze. We can't emphasise enough that this is how any new piece of hardware should work. Once we'd plugged in the wireless dongle, Windows 7 automatically recognised the headset and downloaded a 3.1MB driver which then self-installed. The headset even told Windows 7 to set it as the default sound device, and put a little picture of the headset in the sound level option on the taskbar for us.
Click to enlarge
Now comes the crappy part: the WoW-branded Creative software that adds all the extra features. We realise that it completes the theme of the product, and we were even told that Blizzard was very fussy about what exactly the software should look like, so at least it’s authentic for those in the know. For those of us just after a simple, clean, minimal-overhead interface, you can forget it.
Anyone looking for incredible WoW integration can step right up, however. The software lets you tailor the colour of the side headphone lights to ‘suit your guild’, and this matches the replaceable side clips for all the clans as well. You can even use the mic to make your voice sound like a WoW Village Elder or an Elf if you like, but after the novelty value had worn off, we tried to avoid using the Wow-skinned software at all.
Click to enlarge
As we said, the 'THX TruStudio PC' sound quality is fantastic. Even cranking up the volume didn't introduce sound distortion, and though the headphones are pretty powerful, they lack ear-bleeding potential. The Creative software includes options for enabling the X-Fi Crystaliser, Dolby Digital and extra bass or 'Surround' features, but really the headset doesn't need any of it. Your personal tastes may vary, so the extra options are always a bonus, but to us the quality of audio was excellent without needing to tweak it. Being wireless didn't detract from the quality either, and the reception range was excellent. We walked most of the way across the office (some 30m) and even got down a floor of Dennis HQ before we lost signal.
Having 40mm large Neodymium drivers in the ear cups helps the sound quality, but as the cans cover your ear, both the sweat and sound are locked to your head. The plastic-leather of the cans is nice and soft, but is pain to reattach after cleaning. This is a bit of an oversight, as even after just a couple of days putting the headset back on had that cold clammy feeling. Eurgh!
You are able to wear this headset for ages too, because the in-built battery lasts a fair while. At moderate sound levels I’ve managed to get two and a half working days listening to music and playing games after one charge. Cranking the sound to full did drain the battery notably faster though. The headset does have an auto-off function, but it's only activated when the wireless dongle is off or out of range - if your PC is on, so is the headset. It takes the beautifully braided mini-USB cable to charge the set, and you can charge the battery while using the headset too, so there's no need to wait.