In 2004 SteelSeries released a headset designed for PC gaming known as the Siberia Neckband. This innovative design meant the player wore the band around the back of their neck and not over the top of their head — apparently designed for those European boys who like to spike their hair up.
Now Steelseries have reworked the Siberia Neckband to make it compatible with iPod, iPad and iPhones to bring their first headset specifically designed for mobile gaming.
When I reviewed the SteelSeries Spectrum 5xb headset for Xbox 360, one of my very few complaints was its design. It was massive and I looked like a Katamari cosplayer. However, the Siberia range appears much more eye-catching without being massive or over the top. If a headset is designed for mobile gaming then it needs to be a design that the wearer isn’t embarrassed to be seen in.
Luckily, the Siberia’s design is a good match for mobile needs and while travelling to work, two people actually stopped me to ask me where I got them from. The Siberia neckband has a retractable microphone that can be pulled out to make or take phone calls, although the problem with this is that no matter what you do, you look like a bit of a prick.
While the design itself great, comfort is also an important factor and sadly this is a problem. While the neck band was comfortable to put on, it never stayed on. No matter what angle I put the band around my neck or how tight I made it, the moment I started walking it would slip or if I turned my head it would catch on my hoodie.
The padded caps were comfortable and they didn’t hurt my ears, but the moment the neckband slipped the cups would fall off. Obviously this defeats the point of a good headset for a mobile device. On top of that, if someone wants to speak to you, you simply can’t just lower the cups from your ears because they just choke you. You actually need to remove the whole headset which means you then have to then precariously put the headset back on. It is annoying.
However, SteelSeries have done more than just re-release an old set. They have now added an in-line remote that is compatible with iPhones/iPads and iTouch. The remote is small and simple, doesn’t weight the headset down and is very responsive when used with iPod functions. Volume can be turned up and down, music started, stopped, skipped and calls answered. However, not only do I play lots of games on my iPhone4 but I play lots of music with the Spotify application.
If you don’t know it, Spotify is a music service that allows the streaming to millions of songs, it is a huge application that is used by millions and is apparently hated by the in-line remote. Sometimes is works, sometimes it doesn’t do anything at all and sometimes it stops Spotify and starts playing iTunes. This means I then have to actually get my iPhone out of my pocket or bag to use it, thus rendering the in-line remote as pointless and even irritating.
Finally, there is the sound quality and like any SteelSeries headset, it is good. The music and sounds are crisp and clear with beautifully deep bass. Playing games like Bit.Trip BEAT is just a fantastic experience, listening to music is amazing and even my own mother was impressed by how good my calls to her sounded. But, all of these are just as good as the Siberia headset for PC, the 5xb or their in-ear buds.
The Siberia neckband is a great looking headset, minus the silly microphone for public use and it sounds fantastic, but that is no different from any other headset they have made. However, the headset refuses to stay on my head thus rendering the headset pointless. I couldn’t help but wonder if a pair of in-ear buds with the in-line controls would have been a better option for mobile gaming, yes it would lack the visual impact of the neckband headset but at least I could use them.