People sometimes make the mistake of equating value with being cheap. Folks in the know, however, know that there’s a key difference. Fixing up a romantic candlelit dinner for your special someone on Valentine’s Day? That, my friends, is value. Bringing your Valentine’s date to Taco Bell? Even chef Lorena Garcia and her Cantina Bowls will likely agree that you’re being cheap.
On that note, we now go to Performance Designed Products’ Afterglow Universal Wireless Headset. Designed for chatty video gamers who also like a premium sound experience, this light-up headset rings in at just 90 bucks. With many high-end gaming headsets going past the the $200 mark, the Afterglow’s under $100 pricing actually places it in the budget category for premium gaming cans. This brings us to the initial premise laid out at the beginning of this article: is the Afterglow headset a good value or is it cheap? To be honest, the answer surprised even me.
For starters, the audio quality of the Afterglow actually sounds pretty darn good. The headset comes with three sound settings: Pure Audio, Bass Boost and a surround-sound like Immersive Audio mode. Despite its lack of Dolby capabilities compared to more established competitors such as the Astro A30 Crossgaming Headset and the Turtle Beach Ear Force XP400, the Afterglow still manages to deliver crisp sound and a clean bass profile that isn’t muddy or too overpowering. Whether it be translating the sounds of game explosions and footsteps or even rap and rock songs from your MP3 player, the Afterglow delivers one of the better sounds I’ve heard from a set of cans. In addition to serving as a mic for gaming, the Afterglow works as a great headset for programs such as Skype on your computer as well.
Another big plus for the Afterglow is the fact that you can use it for several systems as-is. These range from computers and smartphones to gaming systems such as the PS3, Xbox 360 and even the Wii. Wireless range is also good and the Afterglow managed to work at a farther distance than the other gaming headsets I’ve tried so far. With an operating time of more than 10 hours, the headset is no slouch when it comes to battery life. In terms of durability, the Afterglow is pretty tough and its plastic band can withstand twisting and plenty of abuse.
Having said all that, the Afterglow also comes with its share of issues. Connection is made via red and white analog stereo inputs to lower costs, for example, which may disappoint folks looking for a digital-out connection. Fit can also be a bit tight for folks with big heads — at least until you break it in. Although you can turn of its multitude of lights, the plastic band and overall design won’t be universally liked. Some may dig its look overall but I can also see others thinking that the Afterglow makes users appear like sci-fi B-movie rejects. Also, while the headset sounds great for listening to music, its size and appearance make it not quite as practical for wearing on the street and can also cause ear fatigue when worn for extended periods.
Despite its issues, however, there’s no denying that the Afterglow is a solid product that works well. Sound quality is the raison d’etre for any headset and it certainly delivers on that end. Add the fact that it costs less than many of its premium competitors and this budget headset starts to look even better. If you’re a hardcore gamer with plenty of systems and want a good headset that works with all your devices but doesn’t break the bank, then the Afterglow is definitely a viable option.
FINAL RATING: 4.5 stars
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