Creative’s gaming headset offers sweet wireless performance but at a price.
No man has been hassled by headphone wires more than I have. I have had wires coming off, cans losing sound on either side and even the coveted gold-plated jacks dislodging straight off. It’s been hard for me managing my headphones and no matter how carefully I use it, it will eventually break. So, when we received Creative’s HS-1200 wireless gaming headset (powered by X-Fi technology) for review, my hands trembled with excitement and my belief soared in hope. Could this be the end of my woes? I took a closer look:
The HS-1200 sports a simplistic look with titanium colored ear-cups and matte black on pretty much everything else except the steel hinges. The headset is surprisingly small, especially as it is categorized as a ‘gaming headset’, and we all know how manufactures go bonkers on the size when it comes to that. The design is not stunning, and certainly lacks the stylish form factor and the usual jizz jazz of gaming sets, but is elegant enough to not feel embarrassed wearing them in front of your family without looking too much like a geek. That’s important.
On the left side of the headset you have the mic. The mic can be turned on by bringing it in front of the face, and turned off by placing it back in its place. A clever design had it only worked but more on that later. On the right side, you will find four control buttons: two volume keys, sync/power on-off button and an ‘answer’ button for applications like Skype. They are implemented really well and are relatively easy to distinguish and operate.
The headphones can be adjusted by sliding it up and down on the metal rails. While it does away with the usual plastic ‘tic-tac’ implementations, I am not sure if I like the design. I already have a loose right slide making it difficult to keep it on the perfect height. Fortunately, they don’t move while worn.
You also have the transceiver, a small rounded unit with two cables running from it. One connects to your computer USB, while the other plugs into the headset to charge it. The unit is constructed using matte-black plastic and has a rubber bottom for improved grip. In its center is a large button used for pairing the headset with a small blue LED in its front indicating the status of the connection.
||Proprietary 2.4GHz radio frequency for advanced 2-way transmission
||Up to 22m 1 (72ft)
||Up to 8hrs
||Up to 3 months
||Built-in Lithium-Ion battery (rechargeable)
|Audio Sampling Frequency:
||40mm Neodymium magnet
|Cord Length (USB Transceiver) :
||Headphones: 155g (without packaging)
USB Transceiver: 60g (without packaging)
Build and Comfort:
The HS-1200 feels quite rugged but a quick skim through user reviews indicated that the construction quality wasn’t rated too high. Numerous users complained of broken ear-cups after a fall, even from heights of one-two feet. I have never dropped the headsets in my use (I am extra careful with these things) and am certainly not adventurous enough to give it a go.
The headset felt comfortable after some use though they were still awkward at times. The round cups, measuring only 6.5cm, are quite small. This means they sit on the ear rather than around it. Despite the thick padding, and an overall weight of 150g, we found that the pressure on the ear to be a bit too much. Since the headset sits ‘on’ the ear, it was but necessary to adjust them in a comfortable position every time or go through a painful twist on the ear. Reminds me of school.
Installation and Software:
It’s a plug and play device on Windows 7 though we still recommend you grab the latest drivers from Creative’s website. Like for any USB powered headsets, you will have to go through the chore of setting the device as ‘default’ in your Windows sound settings (this is done by right clicking on the sound icon in the taskbar and selecting ‘Playback devices’). That means if you want to use your speakers again, you have to set that as the ‘default’. It gets quite irritating when you fire up a game with unskippable logo screens (I am looking at you Ubisoft) only to find out you have no sound. (Pro tip: Alt+F4 is your friend.)
The Creative Console Launcher, the bundled software with this Xi-Fi powered headsets, presents users with two of Creative’s proprietary sound technologies, the X-Fi CMSS-3D and X-Fi Crystalizer, among other usual settings. Let’s have a look at how they fared in the next section.
Upfront, let me admit I am no audiophile. For my untrained ears, the 40mm Neodymium magnets delivered a good rounded sound with plenty of depth, clarity and bass, if ever so sounding slightly processed, but occasionally.
However, that’s for music but what about gaming, the main purpose it was built for? We tested it on Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and 4a Games’ excellent sci-fi shooter Metro 2033 – the perfect benchmarks for any gaming headsets. The sound delivered was punchy and lacked any form of distortion even on high volume. Where the HS-1200 excels, however, is the sound positioning. It’s some of the best on stereo headsets. The superb sound placement delivered a terrifying experience with Metro 2033, managing to scare the soul out of me at every slight and even unintentional pop and grumble.
We tried the X-Fi CMSS 3D and X-Fi Crystalizer on both music and games. To be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference with the Crystalizer on. But I still kept it on because it sounds cool (we are all guilty of it, admit it!). X-Fi CMSS 3D delivers a ‘far away’ sound, as if you’re listening to a radio that’s…you know, far away. While there may be some buyers for that, most of the users will likely turn it off. It wasn’t useful during games either, sounding no different with it turned off.
Now, coming to the mic. It didn’t work. At all. We tried it on two Windows 7 machines, but the mic failed to pick any sound. The problem can be related to Creative’s infamous driver support for Windows 7. We even tried the beta drivers available but to no vain. This is a major shortcoming and practically goes straight off the list for online gamers and users looking to use it for VOIP.
Creative boasts up to 22m of wireless range but in our test we couldn’t pack in more than 15m without the sound going off completely. The battery lasts for up to 5-6 hours on full charge. Charging takes anywhere around 2-3 hours. These are decent numbers though it will require daily charging if you are heavy user.
Lastly, the noise cancelling. Have whiny kids/wife/mother/siblings/pets? The HS-1200 will block it all. Now only if they could make them invisible, it would have been perfect!
For the price of 499Dhs, the Creative HS-1200 is a bit steep. It delivers good sound but are not exceptional and certainly do not match up to other big names. The mic doesn’t work on Windows 7 making it practically useless for many users. The price is for the wireless technology alone. If you think you can afford it despite the shortcomings, these are certainly a good choice for wireless headsets.