As 2020 quickly sprints towards us, we, as consumers, have been pummeled by a tsunami of holiday sales, specials and deals, deals, deals!!! Peep this gamer’s guide for a glimpse at some choice gear to keep you video-gaming during the holidays and on through the New Year.
Here are our favorites in alphabetical order by company names. As a disclaimer, we do not receive any monetary compensation from any of the companies referred to within this article.
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Lucidsound's flagship headset, the LS50 ($249.99), is a premium wireless rig with some unique features that give it an edge over other top tier headsets. Coming in hot with 50mm custom tuned neodymium magnet drivers, light-weight metal headband construction, detachable dual mic, internal amplification with mic monitoring, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and cooling gel memory foam ear cups, the LS50 delivers the crispy crunchy thunderous goods with one of the easiest connectivity set-ups by way of Bluetooth. This means that you can connect with your console or your cellphone seamlessly without the need of any wires or dongles. Also included are the fan favorite ear cup volume and mute controllers along with active noise cancelling on the boom mic. And just when you didn't think it could get any better, all of the LS line of headsets, with the exception of the LS1, continue to transcend the “gamer” world with their stylish non-gamer designs, allowing users to abandon their controllers, leave the couch and let the music continue out in public.
Based on the flagship LS50, Snoop D-O-double-G has collaborated with Lucidsound to release a special limited edition headset ($299.99) for pre-order with a ship start date of December 20, 2019. Almost identical with the LS50, the Snoop edition will feature a few exclusive additions. This numbered LE headset will be packaged in a specially branded Snoop Dogg box, along with a certificate of authenticity, and will feature chrome polished arms, white and silver PU leather accents and the same high performance features of the LS50X. Bonus features, not available on the standard model, will be Snoop Dogg voice prompts and a custom equalizer "Snoopadelic" Mode, which is a sound profile custom tuned by Snoop himself. Battery life on both headsets will yield around 20 hours of continuous use and headsets can be used without battery power when plugged directly into your controller or audio device via the braided 3.5mm plug. Pre-orders are live so get yours before they're sold out.
Priced at $199.99, the LS41 is the cream of the crop for PS4 gamers and one of the higher priced headsets in our guide (the LS41 can also be used with PC and Xbox). With a bevy of high end accoutrements like the flagship LS50, minus the Bluetooth connectivity, the LS41 also delivers an audible experience as if you were sitting in a surround sound theater with 7.1 DTS X. After spending a few minutes with this headset, I have to say that I am hooked. Unlike some of the wired headsets that we tested, the sound balancing on the LS41 was solid and clean. For all you COD:MW players, this balance translates to no longer being plagued with a blanket of jet engine screams when a VTOL jet gets called in. With every headset we tested, whenever that kill streak was called in, a game-crippling loud “whooshing” was the only sound that could be heard, until the LS41 came around. I quickly realized that you could totally find separation and still hear footsteps of a creeping enemy. BRAVO!!! At the end of the day, with such a high premium, I wouldn’t expect less…but with the actual goods, I’m happy to say this is definitely a headset where you get what you pay for in aces.
Xbox and PC gamers rejoice! The LS35X has come to free you from the shackles of cables, dongles and the complexities of hooking up to your Xbox One. Who knew setting up your new wireless headsets could be as simple as a single-button push? Along with removing the hassle of added cables and/or base stations, the LS35X inherits the many top tier features as the LS flagship headsets but at a more affordable price of $179.99. Upon firing up the Xbox and getting Call of Duty: Modern Warfare going, the LS35 delivered clean highs and bass booming lows and made our game play a recognizable joy. With a rechargeable 15 hour battery, it will be hard to not be prepared for an all day long couch killing session. The final cherry on the top of this audible sundae is a hard case to keep your headset protected from damage and dust (also included with the flagship LS50).
Priced at an attractive $59.99 (this is one of the first times LS has released a non-amplified headset as they venture into the "wired market." Powered with 50mm drivers similar to the higher end models, the LS10 delivers the audible goods with a lightweight snug fit, super cushy ear cups, mutable mic and the innovative rotating volume control located on the left ear cup. At first I was hesitant towards this non-amped headset but after many hours I can honestly say, I’m impressed. Highs and lows come in crispy and deep and even though I do miss the ability to hear myself in these headsets, I do like how light these budget headsets are. Another added plus to the LS10, if you’re in the mood to listen to music during some gaming downtime, go ahead and plug these into your phone or stereo… you won’t regret it.
For the gamer on a really tight budget who isn’t concerned with surround/stereo sound, the LS1 is an excellent option at an very affordable price of $24.99. This single left side only headset is equipped with a precision tuned chat-centric 50mm driver, ear cup volume control with push button mute and an LED lit stationary microphone. I found this headset great for gaming and chatting when I didn’t have to worry about foes creeping up behind me or around a corner. I also liked the idea that I could quickly disconnect from my ps4 controller and plug into my cellphone for a quick call. Quite honestly, I liked this headset best with my Nintendo Switch.
One of the mega-dominant forces in all-things gaming, Razer, continues to churn out new and ground-breaking releases that wow and awe the gaming community! With the introduction of top tier headsets this year, they have also released a plethora of additional peripherals all geared towards completing your gaming experience and Razer sharpening your competitive edges against your digital foes.
This just-released headset priced at $129.99, comes equipped with THX Spatial Audio, which allows users to be encompassed within a 360 audio sphere, while custom-tuned 50mm drivers and a pro-grade active noise canceling microphone complete your gaming audio experience. But wait, there’s more, as an added plus, the Ultimate is equipped with Razer Chroma ear cups that illuminate with underglow lighting to the shine of 16.8 million colors and a suite of effects, all of which can be customized for a one-of-a-kind look.
Breaking through the gender barriers, Razer has released the Kraken Kitty Edition. Gone are the days of masculine gaming headsets with extreme and military design cues. The Kitty is a huge leap towards making gaming peripherals fun as well as utilitarian. Designed with adorable kitty ears on top of a bauxite aluminum headband frame, femme fatales and feline lovin’ fellas can now separate themselves from the rest with LED lit kawaii looks when they fire up their Twitch and YouTube streams.
With Razer Chroma providing 16.8 million color variations along with Stream Reactive Lighting, to the ears and ear cups, Kraken Kitty users will be able to customize their own "purrsonalized" looks. But you can’t survive in the FPS/RPG/game streaming world on good looks alone, so to ensure you’re at your best, tucked beneath this meow-meow exterior are the innards similar to the Kraken Ultimate (50mm drivers, THX Spatial Audio & Active Noise Canceling microphone), which will guarantee your edge will be Razer sharp. Up until this time, we’ve only seen feminine colored headsets for the gals so this re-design is a welcomed sight for sore gaming eyes! The Kitty is priced at $149.99 and comes in pink and black. Grab one for your favorite kitty right Meow!
I don’t know about you but I hate being connected to anything wired, especially when it comes to my phone. Introducing the Hammerhead True Wireless Earbuds. Priced at $99.99, these are already a bargain compared to Samsung ($149) and iPhone ($249) offerings. At first glance, you’ll immediately recognize an amalgamation of different earbud designs in one. The HHTWE looks like an incestuous demon love child if the Apple Earpod and Airpod birthed an audible baby. But that’s where the similarities stop as further inspection reveal hefty custom-tuned 13mm dynamic drivers designed to fire off crispy highs, solid mids and cavernous lows. On top of the exquisite audio, the HHTWEs link up using Bluetooth 5.0 which drastically reduce latency issues when gaming or watching movies, no longer did I have to endure offbeat lip syncing while watching YouTube.
If you are a mobile gamer, then it is game changing whenever you are connected with proper audio on your phone. It’s an added bonus if those same gaming earbuds can playback your favorite DJ mixes and mashups with stellar sound quality. To further your user experience, the HHTWE offer touch controls and a charging case that gives you up to 12 hours total use time. I love the small form factor of the charging case and how easily it fit in the 5th pocket of my jeans but more importantly the audio playback during Call of Duty: Mobile was excellent with music playback surprisingly SOLID. My only wish is that they offered more robust options with silicon sleeves as my ear shape made it impossible for these to stay in my ear outside of sitting still. If you are looking for wireless earbuds then these are definitely ones to consider.
I have had a love-love relationship with this monolithic beast-mode gaming phone since the beginning of this year. Razer was one of the first to release a dedicated refined “gaming smartphone” into the world and their latest release, the Razer 2 Phone, which made its debut at the end of 2018, has proven that mobile gaming is not to be neglected. As my work phone, the Razer 2 has been an entertainment champion through four comic cons, an anime expo and an E3. With its deliciously vibrant and 120hz zero-lag screen complete with front firing DECIBEL SHATTERING Dolby Atmos stereo speakers, I can’t tell you how many times this pocketable media center saved me from boredom while sitting in my hotel room, waiting for panels, waiting in any lines, sitting at the airport or waiting for a doctor’s appointment to start. With decent camera performance, which keeps getting better with updates, incredible IP67 water resistance and an internal vapor chamber cooling system, the Razer 2 phone is still one of my favorite devices to get my game on. Games like Guns of Boom, Fortnite, PubG and Vain Glory run super smoothly with pixel dense sharpness and vibrant colors. Next to my Samsung s10+, Note 10+, there’s no contest on which one is the one for gaming. You can get this media beast right now at an amazingly low price of $399.99!
If you’re hesitant in throwing down $200-269 for a Nintendo Switch, Razer has a way to wash away your “Switch blues.” Introducing the Junglecat (also known as the Razer Switch) mobile gaming controller. Priced at a meager $99, Android and iOS owners can unlock the ability to “console game” with a huge list of mobile games (compatible with the Junglecat). Being a Switch owner, the only grumbles that I have are 1) game cartridges COST TOO MUCH; 2) the Switch & Switch Lite are bulky even though they are not console-bulky; 3) they have terrible battery life; and 4) they are heavier than a cellphone.
With the Junglecat, a simple removal of your phone and the controller can fit in a pocket, plus games on both platforms are either free or inexpensive. The Junglecat is ready to go for Razer 2, iPhones and Samsung phones, so don't miss out on console style gaming in your pocket.
Recently acquired by Turtle Beach, Roccat is a German designed gaming peripherals company that continues to make eyebrows rise in the laptop/desktop gaming industry. In PC gaming, the right equipment makes the biggest difference in you becoming an effective dominator or a sub-par newb and Roccat is here to make sure you're properly equipped.
The Vulcan Titan keyboard is quite the stunner on top of being a beast-mode gaming keyboard and just released in time for your holiday gift list! With full RGB individually back-lit keys, one of the most unique features are the crystal clear keys, which allow a flood of vivid colors to drench your desktop. In our short time with this new keyboard, I loved the purr-like keyboard clicks and the German design aesthetic. With its seamless wrist rest and low profile, the Vulcan not only provides tactile performance but is also comfortable in its ergonomic design. Beautifully designed with a brushed aluminum face plate, this keyboard behemoth was made to destroy your opponent and also yield a pleasant typing experience when you break from the gaming world. With an amazing organic lighting ecosystem coupled with the Roccat Swarm software, users will have the power to unlock a world of customization whether it be individual keys or zoned lighting, with simple drag and drop controls.
Going back to the keyboard design, the keys are raised high enough to facilitate easy cleaning and are just as easy to remove for any deep cleaning needs. With a 1.8mm travel, Roccat claims that the Vulcan can pew pew 20% faster with hair trigger like keystroke performance. Out of the box, the Vulcan has a default reactive RGB mode that, in itself, is quite beautifully mesmerizing and activated by a simple key click mimicking LED ripples in a pool of color, then to a "breathing" mode when the keyboard is on stand by. This is hands down one of my favorite mechanical keyboards and most definitely should be on any PC gamer's most wanted list.
So you've got the keyboard...now what? Roccat has you covered with an extremely capable mouse that is sure to give you the edge. With a patented new mechanism, Kain promises to deliver faster clicks than its competitors at an affordable price of $69.99. Equipped with the AIMO RGB LED lighting system and being part of the AIMO ecosystem, this mouse can also be customized and will work serendipitously with your Vulcan keyboard using the Swarm software.
Ergonomic in design, this mouse was easy for me to get used to as it was similar to my office mouse, but on steroids. I was delighted by the extremely responsive tactile buttons, 24 step scroll wheel and large skates underneath to ensure super smooth gliding and overall lightweight. LEDs illuminate the wheel and the rear (palm located) Roccat logo. Additionally, Kain delivers five DPI settings topping out at 16,000 DPI via its built in owl-eye sensor, which is a godsend for gaming and fine tuned graphic art.
Turtle Beach has long been one of the reigning kings in pro-gaming headsets since the early 2000s. Throughout the years they continue to be one of the most recognized and gamer-trusted brands in a now congested industry. I remember walking through many E3 conventions over the past 10 years and would always see Turtle Beach headsets throughout many gaming demo-stations from various publishers. TB was also the first company that introduced amplified headset gaming to me. Being in the rave scene since 1989, I’ve had my over abundant share of ear drum deafening bass lines and speaker-massive parties, so much so that my hearing ain’t what it used to be, so these amplified headsets are a godsend. With such a vast selection of varying headsets from different designs to gaming styles, here are some options for avid gamers to score this holiday.
This flagship wired headset coupled with the amplified “Superamp” is a force to be reckoned with. With an exposed metal headband and cushioned inner suspension headrest, the EP2 delivers on durability and hard edge styling. One of the most important things to note when you’re racking up hour after hour of non-stop game play are the ear cups, which MUST be comfortable and positioned well enough so that you don’t get the dreaded throbbing “ear-fatigue.” Fear not, the EP2 delivers comfort in spades and comes fitted with super fat, plush and soft cushy memory foam that allow any and all users to tirelessly continue onward and forward through double digit hours of non-stop play. Some of the beloved features on the EP2 are magnetic ear cups for easy removal and replacement, the highly innovative “Prospecs” feature which allows you to adjust each ear cup to accommodate eye glass arms, a unique independent cushion suspension system that adjusts to various ear sizes, a swivel flat design, detachable crystal clear “TruSpeak” pro gaming microphone and the super crispy and thunderous boom of the 50mm “Nanoclear” speakers (aka drivers). On its own the excellent performing EP2 can be had for $129.99 which can easily be plugged into your various console controllers but you’d be punching yourself in the face by missing out on the other feature-rich side of this system, which is the Superamp, an optional but necessary companion to the EP2.
Replacing the tried and true pro-level EP1 and TAC system, the EP2 Superamp combo, priced at $249.99, is the new kid on the gaming block with a feature packed app to give users absolute control. Where the TAC system provided users with analog slide controllers and knobs, the new generation Superamp only has a single large format volume wheel with LED light to show volume level and a center lit logo, which can be customized via the app. The real magic happens when you pair your Superamp with the Turtle Beach app and unlock a world of controls that are at your disposal to fine tune your audio desires. Once again, Turtle Beach knocks another home run out of the park.
If you're plagued with a really tight budget then the Recon 70 might be an ideal option, priced at $34.99. With various colors to choose from and a 3.5mm plug making it compatible across all console platforms (PS4, Xbox, Switch, etc.), this super light weight wallet friendly headset delivers good results with all plastic construction and good ear cup cushions mounted on swivels. 40mm drivers deliver every bomb blast and bullet whiz as a fold down mic, with fold up to mute feature, deliver your chat and heated troop commands. For the price range this headset is a good headset but if you demand “pro” audio, then you might want to keep saving your pennies.
The Recon Spark is another wired headset that is pretty much identical with the Recon 70 with a few added features such as, different textured design, upgraded ear cup cushions, exclusive white/lavender color wave, steel reinforced headband and an extended splitter cable. All this for an extra $10.00 priced at $49.99, why wouldn't you take the plunge?
One of the coolest things I found for this year's holiday guide wasn't really a “gaming” item but something that would definitely be a great gift for any late night digital ranger. Presenting E.P. Light, a company dedicated to creating amazing liquid artistry frozen in resin light bulbs designed to give any gamer-cave some instant mood lighting.
With a mesmerizing waltz of swirls and pirouettes of fluid, captured in a freeze frame moment, just like snowflakes, every single one is a unique work of art. The best part of these items, they can screw into any normal light bulb, but we liked the simple clean-lined wooden base available on the website. Grab one of these to light someone's life up.
And there you have it, another year and another collection of some amazing gear. See you next year!