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Hands on with A50

Developer: Astro | Publisher: Astro
Players: N/A | Genre: Accessory

Release Date: July 2012

Our friends over at Astro showed us the new A50 wireless headsets that are coming out in a few weeks during E3. For those of you unaware, Astro is made up of many talented people who have created many amazing products. These products go back to the iPAQ from Compaq, all of the iconic Alienware desktops and laptops before Dell acquired them, the Xbox 360 controller, and even the micro console and controller from OnLive.

Astro has for years dominated the gaming industry with their award winning headsets. All professional gamers use the headsets exclusively. The classic A40 headsets offered removable sides that could be replaced with personal logos, clan logos, or other iconic images. And though Mad Catz just recently acquired the MLG license, I know most gamers still want to use Astro headsets.

Astro considers themselves to be the BMW of video game headsets. They want to continue this trend with their new A50 wireless headsets. Though still a little pricier than their competition, the value, technology, battery life, and overall sound performance far exceeds any of the competition in the category. We had a chance to see this first hand during our meeting with Astro at E3 2012.

The A40 is still the flagship product for Astro. It is their high-end headset that gamers love. The problem with the device is that there are a time of wires that come out of it. This can work well at home in a desktop or stationary laptop position. But if you want to take your gaming mobile, or move the A40's to a different TV, it can become difficult to transport due to all the wires.

The problem is, how do you take the incredible Mixamp, with all of the cables and performance surround sound and fit it inside a wireless headset, with awesome quality, incredible battery life, keep the iconic silhouette the same, and deliver on an affordable price? Astro has taken everything they have learned, in the pro space, with the A40's, over the past five years to create the new wireless A50's.

On one side of the new A50's, you will find the new wireless Mixamp--while the other side contains a wireless 5.8 gHz wireless radio in it. Just holding the product in your hands, you wouldn't believe that there is this much technology in your hands. This is truly a miracle of science!

To change the volume, you push either forward or back on the side ear cup. To help distinguish where you are, there are chimes for all the way forward, all the way back, and in the center. As Astro says, the wireless headset space is littered with poorly designed products that require you to take off the headset just to see where the buttons are. Astro has built the A50 so your hand goes exactly where the buttons are. No fiddling--no fussing--no worrying about anything but the action on the screen.

When you grab the A50 with your hand, your thumb ends up on the volume wheel everytime. Astro also has 3 different sound profiles: Astro Mode, Untuned Original, and Movies and Music. Astro says that these headsets will rival all wireless headsets out there and they are the first to use 5.8 gHz clearnet technology. What does this offer? 4 units can pair to a single base. In reality, they have paired up 16 units with a single base! Most impressive!

The most interesting design choice came with the microphone. Want to mute your audio? Simply flip the microphone up and it automatically silents your voice. The reason for this is why waste precious space with more buttons when if you don't want to talk you will flip up the microphone anyway?

Style and looks are one thing but how does it sound? Amazing. Though our session with Astro didn't last long, we listened as Gears of War 3 was being played. The 7.1 channel surround sound pounded my little ears as the comfy cushions surrounded me in some of the most amazing audio I have heard all year. These things are loud, the bass is great, and I can't wait to get my hands on them for our hands on review.

Charging the Astro A50 is as easy as plugging in a micro USB cable to the unit. The A50 will run for 10 to 12 hours on a single charge. When you deplete the battery, charging it back up will take 3 to 5 hours to complete.

The Astro A50 should be shipping out in July 2012 for a retail price of $299.95. Your ears will thank you! Check back soon for our full hands on review.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/26/12

Screenshots for Hands on with A50

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