Monday, 4 November 2013

SteelSeries 3Hv2 Review

I'm a PC gamer through and through, while I've delved (and still do) in the console market at times during my life, the PC has always been a safe haven for me, providing me with an enormous catalog of gaming options and an even bigger amount of gaming hours.
What I never really understood or cared for was gaming on a laptop, tablets and handheld consoles is something I find easy and practical to use on a daily basis, laptops on the other hand just feel incredibly awkward to use as a gamer and a burden to carry around. While I understand why people use them I just don't find them a suitable replacement for my faithful and constantly upgraded desktop.
"But Mr. Reviewer, why are you telling us this?", you curiously ask. Well, because SteelSeries was kind enough to provide me with a review sample of the 3Hv2, one of their most portable gaming audio solutions. After using them for a while I discovered that they actually make gaming on the go a lot better simply because of their awesome folding capabilities.

The 3Hv2 besides being one of the most portable, is also one of the most affordable audio products from SteelSeries, costing at the time of this review 39.99€ or $39.99.
This tiny but sturdy headset comes packed very similarly to other products from the same company, a well designed black and orange box with lots of visual information regarding technical specifications and the appearance of the actual headset.
Unfortunately once you open this attractive looking box the content disappoints, first of all and because this is an audio product that focuses on portability, the lack of a carrying pouch/bag is strange and a bit of a let down considering how well SteelSeries usually performs in this department.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of an extension cable, if you plan on using the 3Hv2 on your desktop make sure that the 1,2m cable will actually reach its intended target. I understand that they are mainly for use with laptops and such, but a bit more versatility would have been nice.
On the plus side, it's nice to see included a much needed adapter, making the 3Hv2 compatible with tablets and phones as well.

But enough talking about the package and its contents, let's check out how the actual gaming headset performs.
I don't usually take this long to review a headset (around 2 weeks), the 3Hv2 however have a somewhat rough (on your ears) break-in period. On the first few days using them for more than a few hours would really punish my ears, this was caused by the tight grip they have on your head. While it is a nice feature to have on such a mobile headset, the break-in period is slightly more tough than usual. Stick with them though and you'll be surprised by how comfortable and light they actually are/become.
One of the most unique and interesting ideas behind the 3Hv2 is its foldable design, they twist, turn and once you're done they almost fit in your pocket, an interesting feat considering the decent size of the earcups and headband.

Finally the most important part in any headset, how they actually sound. In the case of the 3Hv2 I can say that while they are far from being the best audio solution SteelSeries has to offer, they do their job decently, especially when you consider their small size and low price point.
The leather padded cushions also help with this performance as the outside noises are extremely well isolated and the sound bleed is kept to a minimum.
Moving on to the microphone it's great to see that SteelSeries didn't neglect the quality here, when it comes to portable audio solutions it's not uncommon to see lower quality microphones accompanying great headsets, not here though, the 3Hv2 has a very competent retractable microphone that performs well and doesn't ruin the elegant look and design of the product.

Final Thoughts
This is a hard product to recommend if you don't plan on using them with either your laptop, handheld console or tablet. While they function as a desktop solution, they were not designed for that.
The 3Hv2 were clearly created with mobile gaming in mind, fortunately the general quality of this product is basically the same when compared with more traditional SteelSeries audio solutions. Sturdy construction, good looking design that is also functional and convenient, a very decent microphone and an attractive price all make this headset very recommendable, especially if you're under a tight budget.

The Good
-Foldable design
-Good quality microphone
-Very elegant
-Excellent quality-price ratio
-Leather padded cushions

The Bad
-Very tough on your ears in the first days
-No extension cable
-No carrying bag included

Thanks to SteelSeries for providing the review sample