Plantronics Gamecom 777: the ultimate surround sound experience?

In the run-up to Christmas, Plantronics have launched the Gamecom 777 headset for PC Gamers. There have been many gaming headsets announced in the past weeks and it is interesting to see how the Gamecom 777 compares to its rivals.

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Most importantly, Plantronics Gamecom 777 connects to a plug-and-play Dolby USB sound card for a virtual 7.1 surround sound experience for pinpoint sound accuracy. To differentiate from its competitors, it also has a telescoping, noise-cancelling microphone so your teammates hear nothing but you. A unique feature to this headset is the in-line volume and microphone mute controls allowing for convenient use of the controls. The stereo sound is rich and provides a resonant bass through the 40mm speakers.

Although the headset is not wireless, it is designed with ergonomic benefits allowing you to play those marathon sessions to your heart’s content. The frame is lightweight and the soft foam padded ear pods are comfortable as they redistribute pressure around the ears. The microphone boom can be concealed when not in use as it stows completely into the headband, which is ideal when listening to music or watching DVDs. The Gamecom 777 is also compatible with the VoIP internet programs such as Skype and Google Voice.

Overall, it holds its own against the Logitech G-Series G930 and Sony DR-GA500 as it has some unique features to it. I quite like the Gamecom logo across the headband as it looks quite different from other headsets. The headset is currently available from selected electrical retailers at a reasonable £79.99.

Sony makes a stand – the new hidden home cinema range

If you want the benefits of surround sound, but can’t be bothered with the faff of setting it all up, the latest range of Sony home cinema stands could be the answer.

Acting a bit like an iPod dock, the stand connects to the television via built-in wires and – hey presto – you have virtual surround sound without the need for rear speakers. This keeps things simple and helps your living room stay wire-free while you enjoy the latest movies and games to their best advantage.

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The science in the stand that makes all this possible is a combination of Sony’s S-Force PRO technology, which creates the surround sound experience, and an S-Master digital amplifier to keep the signal clear. These are packed into a compact unit, ensuring that the stand – designed to match the Bravia monolithic styling – remains slimline.

Available in three sizes to suit TVs from 32” to 60”, the stands have plenty of shelf space to store a DVD or Blu-ray player, cable or satellite box and games console, with three HDMI inputs and one output to accommodate all these other pieces of kit. The stands also incorporate a radio tuner and a media port to connect to an iPod or similar device.

You can run everything via the new Bravia internet widget, which calls up control menus to the TV screen. You can also choose which sound field suits you best from a choice of nine, including movie, sports and games. The stands will be able to handle any future upgrades too, as they can pass through 3D video from the latest Blu-ray players to new generation TVs.

The RHT-G5 has been designed for 32-inch to 40-inch TVs, the RHT-G11 can accommodate 42-inch to 52-inch models, while the RHT-G15 is suitable for sets up to 60 inches.

The two larger stands will be launched in May 2010, with the RHT-G5 following in June, although prices are yet to be released.

Tunebug Shake: Play music in your bike helmet

There’s nothing nicer than the open road and some seriously corny tunes to free the mind and relax the spirit, but bicyclists tend to miss out on this pleasure. They need to be constantly aware of the surrounding traffic, so headphones are not an option, and stick on bike speakers tend to provide tinny audio when you can hear them at all, over the sounds of street. TuneBug aims to counter this problem with a rather innovative device, the TuneBug Shake, a speaker which attaches to the bike helmet for surround sound indulgence.

It does this by utilizing Surface sound technology, which let sound waves pass through any surface it’s attached too, making any surface a workable speaker. The TuneBug Shake connect to your MP3 player or mobile via Bluetooth (or a 3.5mm jack, should one be needed) and has a battery life of 5 hours. It comes packaged with a special strap and mount harness so you can secure it to your helmet, and will mean you get to spend your ride immersed with the likes of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith (my personal favourite riding accompaniments).

Check out this video review from Functionality.net

The TuneBug has a rubber moulded grip and is water-resistant so should fit quite snugly on the head. I’m a bit concerned about the ‘resistant’ aspect however, as the UK is not well known for its beautiful weather and I’d like to think this device could hold up under the random torrential downpours we’re subjected to.

It also features a handy touch sensitive on/off switch as well as a volume control button, so you can easily tune in to the outside world. As it’s compatible with Bluetooth mobiles there would be potential for a future version that comes with an inline mic to allow you to make calls, but then you probably shouldn’t ride and chat, even if it’s hands free.

Find out more at http://www.tunebug.com/products/shake/