Tuesday 16 April 2013

Game changing accessories  - treat yourself to some real game changers.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the chance to test out some very nice pieces of audio and visual kit. I’ve really enjoyed having them in the house and am certainly considering making them a permanent part of every review. 

So what are those products I hear you say! They are the ViewSonic VX2770smh- LED monitor and a pair of Astro’s A50 headphones.  I’ve had both these devices connected to the PS3 while reviewing and playing games and have really had a good time with them.
Check out my reviews of these two products
Let me tell you first about the 

Astro A50 headsets:

The packaging of the Astro A50 feels and looks great and when I commented on this it was described to me as ‘porn’ packaging and guess what? I have to agree!  It’s stylish black / slate grey outer cover slides off to reveal a heavy duty box which screams quality.  Opening up the box, reveals the headsets, several cables and the mixamp TX, which is used for charging and pairing the headphones and for switching the Dolby 7.1 function on and off.  

The headsets are matt black and look pretty cool, but to tell you something that is really cool is the fact that the ear pads twist – which doesn’t sound like ‘WOW’ but this allows you to wear them around your neck comfortably as they lay flat against your chest.
The right cup has one large button which enables the wearer to switch from game sounds to voice sound with ease.  It also has the power button, volume dial and a slider 1,2,3 which enables you to switch between modes for movies and gaming etc.

The left cup houses the foldaway microphone which when in the ‘up & away’ position automatically mutes. This ear cup is where the USB charging cable plugs in and if you’re playing on an XBOX the connector cable to the controller connects into the left ear cup too.

The headphones themselves are very comfortable and not too heavy. Although they really are ‘man’ headphones as they managed to dwarf my wife and kids ears.  In fact what we decided to do when my daughter was playing was to turn the headphones volume up to the max, turn the ear cups outwards and leave them on the floor – this worked perfectly.

But what about the performance, we tested the headsets with a variety of game genres and titles including F1, Assassins Creed and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

After a few days of testing them, I was informed that there was an update available, so this needed to happen first before a real up to date review could be done. This was easily done by connecting the headphones to the mix amp and then the mix amp to the laptop and accessing the update on the Astro site.

Once done, we got into some serious game time.  The Astro A50’s deliver a clear, crisp and loud sound that really do what headphones should do and that, is immerse the gamer.  First up was F1 and ''oh my god'' the race track was deafening to experience through these headphones, every gear change, road hump and turn was heard through the headset.  Then came the gentle sounds of Assassins Creed which  in contrast is a much quieter game,  the Astro A50’s handled this game with ease too – from the soft under foot branch breaks to the whispers of the enemies, the headphones delivered them with clarity.

Overall, I can’t fault these headphones, we tested them over several days with different game genres and a variety of differing background noises from kids playing to the washing machine and each time they delivered an experience that took you into the game.  
As you all know I have loved the Tritton headphones for some time now, yet since these Astro lovelies have appeared on the scene I’ve not taken a second look at the Tritton ones.  I should feel like I’m in a three-way relationship, but the truth is the wireless comfort of the Astro A50’s has completely turned my head.    

My advice is go out and treat yourself to some Astro’s, if you love your ears and your gaming, go buy these!

So now it’s time to tell you about the visual side of things, the ViewSonic VX2770smh-LED, is a 27” frameless  monitor. The monitor has multiple connectivity ports including HDMI, VGA and DVI.   I hooked it up the PS3 via HDMI and inserted the game disc.  The monitor instantly popped up with an optimum screen resolution recommendation for use with the games console.

In the settings menus, it was set to auto set resolution therefore I am assuming that it changed it for me (however whenever I changed the disc or started the console, the same message appeared which ultimately became annoying).

The VX2770 does have some touch buttons on the underside of the screen, which in itself is annoying, because by the time you have read the on screen instructions and then looked under the screen to make sure you’re touching the correct button – the on screen message has disappeared.  This is one issue that could easily be resolved simply by adding a remote control into the box!

The performance of the VX2770 was actually really good, its 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS panel offered some great image quality and was ideal for the F1 and Assassins Creed games.   All the colours of the cars in formation, the flags and the track were all alive on screen even the heat waves from the engines were clearly visible.   Then in Assassins Creed, which is much more a washed out game, when it comes to colours, it’s all dull greys, whites, and darks (even the trees are dark green), the clarity of the graphics were good – when inside the Animus the vision shards have strong, sharp lines which shows off the HD impressions of the VX2770.
Overall not a lot to say about the screen, apart from that if you’re looking for a monitor for your games console, then you could do much worse that spending a couple of hundred quid on the VX2770smh-LED from ViewSonic. 
So there you have it, two completely different products that together could greatly enhance your gaming experience.

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