How's it work?
Optical output from your Xbox 360, PS3 or PC (or auxiliary sound from a standard headphone-sized jack) feeds into the transmitter, which lives up to its name by transmitting the audio to the headset. The headset is wireless during use, except when you're using voice chat on the Xbox 360, which requires a thin cord from the left earcup to the controller. Whether Microsoft or Astro is to blame, it's an unfortunate oversight, and it starts to grate when the flimsy cord continually pops out of the controller during play.
Other than that, everything functions beautifully, though there are some things that will take getting used to for long-time Astro users and new adopters alike.
The mixamp's new home nestled in the headset's right earcup might be the biggest hurdle, as volume mixing is now handled by pressing on either side of the shell: front side for more game volume, rear for more voice. That might irk some, though we found it intuitive after a few minutes.
The microphone has some new functionality, though it's also a mixed bag of pros and cons. A new muting function—flip it up alongside the headband to turn your own voice off, flip it down to unmute—means the mic can no longer be detached. While some will miss the customization options, this supposedly has the added bonus of reducing ambient noise, and reports (over Xbox Live, no less) confirmed that our voice was coming through crystal-clear.
The integrated rechargeable battery lives up to the hype, lasting roughly half a day before requiring two to three hours of recharging. And unless you're playing in a movie theatre, the transmitter's 30-foot range should have you covered.
Plus the transmitter's 5.8GHz Kleernet wireless connectivity means it's compatible with any Kleernet-equipped sound output device.