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Computing

This could be Valve’s wireless VR headset, Deckard

A recently published U.S. patent application might provide a good preview of Valve’s wireless VR headset.

The rumor mill has been heating up recently with deep dives into Steam code, uncovering intriguing details that seem to suggest a new head-mounted display system, possibly called Deckard, is in development. So far most signs point to this being a stand-alone, wireless headset similar to Meta’s Quest 2 — or at least a device that has the option to be used without a PC connected.

Much of the patent discusses the headstrap and how it allows various adjustments for optimal comfort while still holding securely — as well as preventing outside light from leaking inside. The patent contains several drawings that show two dials at the back for adjusting the fit, allowing fine-tuning even in the middle of a game or other VR experience, without the need to use both hands or to remove the headset.

The design shown in the patent might not ever be manufactured; however, it’s interesting to see what Valve has been working on and it’s likely that at least some aspects of this design will be used in a future product. The ear speakers look quite similar to the current Valve Index and there is still a center strap that runs front to back with hook and loop straps for adjustment.

In addition to the center strap, the dials are described as a way to adjust both the top and the side tightness, so perhaps the added dial will make fine adjustments to the top strap more quickly and without having to unhook it before tightening. This can be critically important in the middle of an intense VR session if the headset is slipping, causing the image sharpness to suffer.

Valve VR headset back headstrap dials patent Deckard?

While fit and comfort are very important aspects of any VR headset, the hardware specifications are what is of most interest. Unfortunately, no details were provided in that regard. Earlier speculation suggests Valve’s rumored Deckard headset could have many of the same features as Meta’s Quest 2 while retaining the ability to connect to a PC to run higher quality games and more demanding apps.

With Meta’s Cambria and Apple’s first VR headset expected to arrive in 2022, it seems Valve might join the fray with Deckard as well, making this the biggest year ever for virtual reality hardware.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Razer Kaira headphones for PlayStation go pro with wired and wireless PS5 audio

Razer just revealed their top-tier headphone line for the Sony PlayStation 5, equipped with high-end audio and matching aesthetics. The Razer Kaira is a name you might’ve heard in the past, if you’re looking for high quality gaming-aimed headphones. Here the company has a few versions of the headphones/headsets with some key PlayStation features.

The company revealed two headsets this week, one Kaira Headset for PlayStation, one Kaira Pro for PlayStation. They also revealed a Razer Quick Charging Stand for PlayStation for DualSense controllers. If you’re looking for the least expensive Razer headphones made specifically for the PS5, you’ll want the previously released Razer Kaira X for PlayStation – that will give you just the basics!

The Razer Kaira Headset for PlayStation works with TriForce 50mm Drivers, while the Pro version works with TriForce Titanium Drivers. The Kaira works with a Razer HyperClear Cardiod Mic, while the Pro works with a similar mic that’s also detachable. Both headsets work with Razer SmartSwitch, enabling quick switching between 2.4GHz wireless connectivity and Bluetooth.

You might want to switch between devices – especially if you’re the sort of gamer who uses a PlayStation 5 some of the time, but switches to a cloud gaming or mobile gaming platform whilst on-the-go. Low-latency Bluetooth in the headset works with Quick Connect functionality for easy flipping between devices.

Both versions of the headset work with wireless connectivity as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. Both also have FlowKnit Memory Foam Cushions around each ear, and a set of external colors that match the colors of the PlayStation 5 – blue and white.

The Karia Pro for PlayStation also comes equipped with Razer Hypersense. Razer’s “Smart Haptic Technology” allows sound from the PlayStation 5 console to be paired with physical rumbling in the headphones.

The Razer Kaira for PlayStation will be released for a price of approximately $100 USD. The Razer Kaira Pro for PlayStation will cost around $200. There’ll also be a Razer Quick Charging Stand for PlayStation available in White, Black, and Red colors for approximately $40 USD. Each of these peripherals should be available this week (mid-November, 2021) from Razer’s online store and at retailers across the United States.

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Security

Logitech’s Bolt USB dongle bolsters encryption for its new wireless mice and keyboards

Logitech is known mostly for its consumer-facing products, but it’s making a big play to appeal more broadly to businesses that take privacy seriously. It’s launching a range of mice and keyboards that will include a new Logi Bolt USB-A dongle that aims to reduce latency in crowded workplaces and greatly boost security.

These accessories can securely connect to computers and mobile devices via Bluetooth Low Energy — no dongle necessary. Though the Bolt USB dongle is also based on Bluetooth, it will enable a far more secure tether (security mode 1, level 4). Opting for Bluetooth should make the Bolt far less prone to hacking than Logitech’s Unifying 2.4GHz receiver, which was vulnerable to the “MouseJack” hack.

In Logitech’s white paper for the Bolt, it says that security mode 1, level 4 utilizes Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman P-256 (ECDH) and AES-CCM encryption. The company says these measures ensure that “a Logi Bolt wireless product and its Logi Bolt receiver can only communicate with each other.” Logitech is going as far as ensuring that its direct Bolt wireless connections are Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) compliant. These are the standards created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for use within the federal government. If you’re curious about Bluetooth security, the NIST wrote a guide on it.

Logi Bolt

Curiously, Logitech didn’t opt for a USB-C option for the Bolt dongle.
Image: Logitech

Logitech says its Bolt USB dongle offers a stronger connection, too, at up to 33 feet (10 meters), even if you’re in a congested work environment. One Bolt dongle can connect up to six accessories to your computer. It’s compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android.

Logitech’s listing for the Bolt dongle says it’s “coming soon” and will cost $14.99. But don’t expect your current Logitech accessories to work with it. Devices that are compatible with Logi Bolt will have a Bolt logo on their underside, according to Logitech’s FAQ.

The first accessories that offer enhanced security via Bluetooth LE and include the Bolt USB dongle will launch in September, according to ZDNet. The early lineup includes Logitech’s MX Master Series for Business, comprised of an MX Master 3 and MX Keys. There are also webpages up for business editions of Logitech’s Ergo K860 split keyboard, the MX Anywhere 3, and the Ergo M575 wireless trackball mouse.

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Computing

Why I Can’t Stop Using the SteelSeries Prime Wireless

There’s a serious problem with choosing gaming peripherals these days.

With all the options available, we all tend to rely on specs and technical features when choosing products as we search for “the best.” But unlike a graphics card or processor, there’s precious little that’s objective about something like a gaming mouse.

I found this out when I took the SteelSeries Prime out for a test spin. It quickly became my go-to option, and now I can’t go back to using anything else. It’s not because it’s the best. It’s because when it comes to choosing a gaming mouse, fit and feel are king.

Staying objective

There are a few key specs to pay attention to when looking at a gaming mouse: The sensor and its maximum DPI, the switches and their technology and longevity, and the buttons and how practical they are to use. Wireless connection also plays a role, though honestly, most major mouse makers have fast wireless protocols that offer plenty of battery life.

Taken together, those specs tell you … well, nothing. Sure, I can tell you that a switch lasts for 50 million or 100 million clicks, but that doesn’t say anything about the mouse. You’ll probably replace it long before a switch fails. Similarly, a sensor may sport a resolution of 26K DPI, but only a microscopic fraction of players will ever notice the benefits of such a high resolution.

I certainly can’t, and I’ve used most of the best gaming mice you can buy. The SteelSeries Prime Wireless has an 18K DPI sensor, while the $110 Corsair Sabre Pro Wireless comes with a 26K DPI sensor. The Corsair sensor is objectively better and cheaper, but that just doesn’t translate into real-world use.

Specs are important when comparing the wide range of gaming mice you can buy. But when you’re dealing with devices from major brands like SteelSeries, Corsair, Razer, and Logitech, most gaming mice are more alike than they are different on the inside. The differences come down to form, functionality, and above all else, preference.

Making the difference

Steelseries Prime Wireless on a mousepad.

I recently reviewed the SteelSeries Prime Mini Wireless. It’s a decent gaming mouse, but perhaps not good enough to earn a spot among the best gaming mice on the market, though. The weaker sensor, relatively high price, and annoying wireless dongle just didn’t cut it.

Even more, the Prime Mini wasn’t right for me in particular. It just wasn’t the right size for my hand. After having used the more standard-sized SteelSeries Prime Wireless, it became even clearer how much the ergonomics mattered.

The SteelSeries Prime Wireless is my favorite gaming mouse right now because I like using it. It’s not because of the sensor, which lags behind the competition, and it’s not because of the wireless technology, which is just as fast as the wireless tech from Corsair, Logitech, and Razer. It’s because the SteelSeries Prime Wireless feels good in my hand.

When choosing a gaming mouse, it’s all about the subjective bits: How the mouse is shaped, what the left- and right-clicks feel like, how the mouse looks. Performance is the least important thing to worry about when dealing with high-end gaming mice. I’d choose a mouse from a major brand that has RGB I like over one with a better sensor every time.

For the past several weeks, the Corsair M65 Ultra Wireless has been my daily driver. It’s a great mouse, and it comes with the best specs you can find right now. I like the shape, too, but I gravitated toward the M65 because of its listed performance, not because it was the best mouse for me. The Prime Wireless changed that in a matter of days, and I haven’t switched back.

That doesn’t mean the Prime Wireless is the best mouse for you — the point here is that there isn’t one mouse that’s best for everyone. Maybe you prefer the stubby shape of the M65, or you want to use something that’s as light as possible like the Logitech G Pro X Superlight. All three of these mice are wireless, performant, and cost around the same. So, which is the best? It comes down to what you like most.

Feel is so important that I would put it above specs, and in some cases, even looks. That’s the case with the Prime Wireless, which still has a lot of problems.

Compromise is OK

A hand on the Steelseries Prime Wireless mouse.

The Prime Wireless has some issues. I don’t like the chunky dongle that occupies the sole USB-C slot on my motherboard, the software is a couple of years behind Corsair’s iCue and Logitech’s G hub, and there’s only a thin, underwhelming strip of RGB lighting around the scroll wheel. If you laid out the 10 top gaming mice and I had to pick one without touching any of them, I wouldn’t choose the Prime Wireless.

Still, I continue to use it. It’s OK to compromise on specs, lighting, and even software support for a mouse you like to use. This should be obvious, but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the comprehensive view of a product — how it stacks up to the competition, and all the bits and bobs that contribute to the experience — while overlooking what’s most important.

Although I don’t have concrete numbers, my Destiny 2 clan said I was playing better with the Prime Wireless. And I felt better playing while using it. Even with my list of problems, I keep using the Prime Wireless. It might not be the best mouse for you, but it’s the best mouse for me.

The best for me is not the best for you

A pile of gaming mice.

The Prime Wireless lands in a strange spot in the world of gaming mice. It’s just enough below the competition to not stand out, but for a certain section of the gamers that appreciate the clicks and like the form factor, there’s nothing better. I haven’t gone back to my Razer Viper Ultimate or Corsair Sabre Pro.

It’s important, especially with peripherals, to find something you like, not something a review or roundup tells you to buy. I will scream until I’m blue in the face about how Cherry MX Brown key switches are the best for gaming and typing — but I don’t have a better argument than someone who likes Red switches. The same is true with gaming mice.

If you have a local Micro Center or Best Buy, make sure to put your hand on the mouse before buying one. Feel the form, click the switches, slide it across a mouse pad if you can. That will tell you more about if it’s the right mouse for you than a sensor or spec list ever could.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

What Is Wi-Fi 6? A Look at This Wireless Networking Standard

If your current Wi-Fi connection isn’t strong enough to support your growing number of devices, you might be on the lookout for a better solution. Perhaps you’re experiencing frequent connection errors, slowdowns, and other technical difficulties. Wi-Fi 6 can offer a faster, more reliable connection.

We’ll talk more about this next-generation standard in Wi-Fi technology, tell you what it has to offer, and give you tips on determining what devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6.

The dawn of generational Wi-Fi labels

The Wi-Fi Alliance is the organization in charge of deciding, developing, and designating Wi-Fi standards. As devices become more complex and internet connections evolve, the process of delivering wireless connections also changes. That means that Wi-Fi standards — the technical specifications that manufacturers use to create Wi-Fi — need to be periodically updated so that new technology can flourish and everything can remain compatible. So far, so good.

But the awkward naming of Wi-Fi standards has become a real annoyance for the average person who tries to figure out what those little letters at the end mean. The Wi-Fi Alliance is aware of this, which is why they announced a new way to label Wi-Fi standards by referring to the number of the generation. This will apply to the latest Wi-Fi 6/6E and be retroactive, applying to older standards. For example:

  • 802.11n (2009) = Wi-Fi 4
  • 802.11ac (2014) = Wi-Fi 5
  • 802.11ax (newly released) = Wi-Fi 6/6E

Easier, isn’t it? This will cause a period of confusion where some products are labeled with the old code, and some are just called Wi-Fi 4 or Wi-Fi 5 when it means the same thing. This should be resolved in time as older product labeling is phased out and everyone gets used to the new, friendly names when doing research.

What the Wi-Fi 6/6E standards bring

Now that we’ve covered the naming issue, you’re probably wondering just what Wi-Fi 6/6E brings to the table. Why was another update required? There are a lot of new Wi-Fi technologies on the rise, and Wi-Fi 6 helps standardize them. Here are the important new pieces and what they mean for your wireless network.

Intel

First off is lower latency. Reduced latency means that there are shorter or no delay times as data is sent (very similar to ping rate and other such measurements). Everyone wants low latency connections because it improves load times and helps avoid disconnects and other issues. Wi-Fi 6 lowers latency compared to older Wi-Fi standards, using more advanced technology like OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access). Basically, it’s better at packing data into a signal.

Of course, Wi-Fi 6 will also be faster. By offering full support for technologies like MU-MIMO, connection quality will vastly improve for compatible mobile devices, which should also speed up content delivery. Even if you don’t upgrade your internet speed, such improvements can improve your Wi-Fi data speed anyway, so you get more information faster. How much faster? Digital Trends tested a Wi-Fi 6 laptop and router in late December of 2019 and found a more than 60% increase in speed.

Believe it or not, Wi-Fi 6E promises to be even faster than Wi-Fi 6! While Wi-Fi 6 devices make use of the brand new 6GHz radio band, 6E devices offer “14 additional 80 MHz channels and [seven] additional 160 MHz channels,” according to the Wi-Fi Alliance. More impressively, these channels are designed to not overlap in order to reduce latency and improve congestion issues when using a device around multiple networks.

It also means fewer dead zones, thanks to some expanded beamforming capabilities. Beamforming is the trick your router uses to focus signals on a particular device, especially if it looks like that device is having trouble with a connection. The new standard expands the range of beamforming and improves its capabilities, making dead zones in your house even less likely.

Lastly, Wi-Fi 6 means better battery life. There’s a term called “TWT” or target wake time, a new technology that Wi-Fi 6 embraces. This helps connected devices customize when and how they “wake up” to receive Wi-Fi data signals. It makes it much easier for devices to “sleep” while waiting for the next necessary Wi-Fi transmission (this does not mean your device is turned off, just the parts used for Wi-Fi). In turn, this can save a significant amount of battery life for devices, which should make everyone happy.

Watch for the Wi-Fi 6/6E label

Table of various Wi-Fi logos that denote different generations of network connection.

So, how do you know if a router, phone, or other device works with the new 802.11ax standard? First, look for the phrase “Wi-Fi 6/6E” on the packaging, advertisements, labels, and so on. However, the Wi-Fi Alliance has also suggested using icons to show the Wi-Fi generation. These icons look like Wi-Fi signals with a circled number within the signal. Watch for these icons as well when picking out the right device.

Buying a Wi-Fi 6/6E device

Netgear Nighthawk AX8, a Wi-Fi 6 router.

The Wi-Fi Alliance launched its Wi-Fi 6E certification program on January 7, ahead of CES 2021 and coinciding with the official release of Wi-Fi 6/6E. CES 2021 introduced some impressive-looking Wi-Fi 6/6E routers and mesh routers from various well-known manufacturers, including Netgear, TP-Link, Arris, and Linksys, as well as a USB adapter from D-Link to add Wi-Fi 6 directly to your laptop. If you go shopping for a new router, you should check out our guide to the best Wi-Fi 6 routers. 

Mobile devices that are currently compatible with Wi-Fi 6 include products such as the iPhone 12, the Samsung Galaxy S10, and the OnePlus 8.

Laptops that support Wi-Fi 6 include the Dell XPS 13, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go, and the Asus Chromebook Flip c436.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Razer’s Barracuda X wireless headset is geared toward Switch and Android players

Between the enduring popularity of the Nintendo Switch, the increasing power of flagship phones and new services like Apple Arcade, portable gaming has finally moved to the forefront. However, the disappearance of 3.5mm ports on mobile devices has left many players bereft of premium audio — Bluetooth earbuds don’t quite cut it when you need your audio synced perfectly. If you want a rock-solid connection your best bet is an RF dongle, which usually uses USB-A in a world steadily being overtaken by USB-C ports. Razer has finally stepped up with a mobile-first headset that can connect to your Switch, Android phone or thin-and-light laptop, the $100 Barracuda X.

The Barracuda X is far from the first headset geared toward Nintendo Switch players; we’re big fans of SteelSeries’ Arctis 1 Wireless thanks to its comfort and superb audio quality, and have even included it in a few of our gift guides. It’s fair to say that this headset is the Barracuda’s primary competitor. Even the RF adapters look the same.

Razer Barracuda X in black on a field of comic images

Kris Naudus / Engadget

However, while the Arctis 1 Wireless maintains the standard look of the line (as it should — it’s a great design), the Barracuda is a change of pace for Razer. Instead of the Kraken brand’s circular, grated look, the new headset resembles last year’s Opus headphones, which got a refresh last month. It’s not totally identical, with different joints on the cups, and cloth ear padding instead of fake leather. Here in New York, it’s 90 degrees as of this writing, and I can report that I haven’t felt the need to take off the Barracuda even after wearing it for a few hours. It’s still a bit warm, and I definitely feel cooler when I take the headset off, but it’s bearable.

The Barracuda X also weighs a very scant 250 grams, one of the lightest headsets I’ve tested. (I think it might be lighter than its own packaging.) In direct comparison it feels about the same in hand as similar models from Turtle Beach and Logitech, but there’s a balance in the Barracuda’s plastic build that makes it feel more ethereal. It’s not something I would mind keeping on my head for several hours or throwing it in my backpack so I can game on the train. Which is precisely the point: You shouldn’t feel that carrying this thing around is a burden.

Razer Barracuda X in black on a field of comic images

Kris Naudus / Engadget

While I wouldn’t go tossing this thing around casually in a rage, it does feel solidly built, capable of taking a few dings in your bag. I have mixed feelings about the detachable mic; being able to take it off means a more compact headset design, but it’s also another fiddly bit that I might lose. Then again, it’s unlikely you need voice functions while out and about. (Heck, the Switch console doesn’t even have real voice chat; it asks you to connect via the app on your phone.)

The Barracuda X excites me, mostly because of its USB-C compatibility. But that’s also where it falls short for me. The adapter is small, for sure, but it’s very wide. That means that if you happen to have a laptop with two USB-C ports next to each other like my 2017 MacBook, the Barracuda dongle will block the other completely. This is a hassle in my office setup, where I have an external monitor and USB hub connected on the other side. So while working I get to choose between the power cord and the headset. I’ve opted out of using the Barracuda with my laptop at all, preferring instead to listen to podcasts on my phone. However, that’s my unique situation, and on the go you might only need two ports: one for the headset and the other for power.

Razer Barracuda X in black on a field of comic images

Kris Naudus / Engadget

It’s exciting to see companies finally start to take mobile gaming seriously, and address the specific needs those gamers have. Mobile-friendly controllers are great, but many popular mobile games don’t really need them. Better audio, though? Almost everyone can appreciate that. The $100 price tag might seem a bit steep for some, but the Barracuda X seems versatile enough that you’ll more than get your money’s worth.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Categories
Computing

Staples is Practically Giving Away a Canon Wireless Printer

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No matter how digital business becomes, there’s still a need for printing — often a great deal of it — and that’s where our printer deals come in. If you’re looking for an all-around fantastic laser printer for your home office or small business, Staples is practically giving away the Canon ImageClass LBP6030w USB and Wireless Black and White Laser Printer, which is down to $110. That’s a huge drop of $50 off — or more than 30% — from its regular price of $160. Don’t let this one get away!

For all your basic printing needs, the Canon ImageClass LBP6030w Laser Printer will quickly become your go-to. This black and white laser printer is handy and compact and can fit into most home office spaces (or dorm rooms). This is for someone who doesn’t have overwhelming printing jobs to do but can appreciate an efficient, compact, reliable printer that only needs to be refilled sporadically.

Your workday will go so much more smoothly with the Canon ImageClass LBP6030w taking care of all the printing needs from your networked computers, mobile devices, and storage media. It only takes eight seconds for this printer to produce its first finished page, and at top speeds, it can produce 19 pages per minute. It features print resolution up to 600 x 600 dpi so that you can be sure that all your documents will be printed with professional quality and incredibly accurate detail. With 32MB RAM, this printer is stacked with memory, so you can depend on it for your most important work. Additionally, this printer’s input tray supports up to 150 sheets of paper, so you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it’s not about to run out or stall mid-job. Similarly, the output tray can handle up to 100 sheets; there’s no job too big for this printer.

While this printer may not have the scanning and copying features of more expensive devices, this single focus allows it to become your go-to printer and cuts down on complications. It can reach your devices by Wi-Fi or through a USB 2.0 connection, so you’re covered in terms of connectivity. And while it’s small, it’s mighty, designed to print 5,000 sheets per month. That means you and your office are covered for all your printing tasks.

Every office needs a printer, and there is no easier or more straightforward solution than the Canon ImageClass LBP6030w laser printer. Right now at Staples, it’s $50 off. It’s down to only $110, a steep drop from its regular price of $160. Don’t miss out!

More printer deals

Want some more printer options for your home office or small business? We have you covered with this roundup of the best printer deals below.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Choice




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Computing

Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT Review: Good Beyond Gaming

Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT

MSRP $269.00

“Corsair’s Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT isn’t perfect, but the way it offers the practicality needed to replace both your gaming headset and everyday headphones puts it in a league of its own.”

Pros

  • Great chic looks
  • Excellent build quality
  • Versatile connectivity
  • Can replace two headsets
  • Convenient RGB mic-mute indicator

Cons

  • Below-average battery life
  • Short wireless range
  • Expensive

Shopping for a gaming headset isn’t easy. It can be, if you set your expectations low, but if you’re shopping for something a little upmarket, then the thought of dropping $269 on a wireless gaming headset can be a bit daunting.

That’s the cost of Corsair’s latest flagship gaming headset, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT, and while it certainly looks worth its price tag, lets find out if the stuff you can’t see is good enough. Unlike many headsets, there’s a lot to cover with this one, so lets dig in.

Build quality and comfort

Build quality of the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is excellent, as expected. The headset uses a lavish amount of pleather and metal, giving it a highly chic look and feel. Corsair’s back-to-basics elemental design also plays well here, as it gives the headset a very ‘contemporary headphones’ look, rather than the look of many garishly styled offerings.

I quite like the design, actually, and because the microphone is removable and it supports Bluetooth with Apt-X, you can easily get away with using this set on the go, in public. The light bit of RGB might even draw in curious eyes.

When it comes to comfort, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is generally good, but a bit of a miss – that might be a personal observation, but I find the earcups too shallow. Of course, that’s done to keep a slimmer profile for the modern look, but it presses against my right ear a little, leading to discomfort with prolonged use.

That’s my only complaint with comfort – the pleather is soft, the cushions are … cushiony, and clamping force is minimal, so it’s not going to give you a headache. If your ears fit better than mine, which is more likely than it is not, you’ll find the Virtuoso XT plenty cozy. For bigger ears, Logitech’s G Pro X (Wireless) headsets are generally more comfortable thanks to more spacious earcups.

Control ergonomics are also excellent, with most buttons at the bottom of the right earcup. The only button that’s on the left cup is the mic-mute button, and actually, it’s on the microphone itself, right at its base where it connects to the headset.

The microphone even has an RGB light ring at the end of it, and I think it’s brilliant, even though it’s not strictly an ergonomics thing. It shines bright red when you mute the mic, and participates in whatever light show you have going when it’s not. That might seem like a small detail, and it is, but tell me, when’s the last time you forgot you muted yourself and found yourself wondering why your friends won’t respond? Yesterday? Today? Yeah, me too. Every headset needs to have this.

Connectivity

Most wireless PC gaming headsets come with two or three types of connectivity. First and foremost, there’s a wireless interface with its own dongle, then a 3.5mm jack for when you need the cable anyway, and they often work over their USB charging cable as well.

But Corsair throws in one extra goodie: Bluetooth with support for the Apt-X codec. On most gaming headsets, this wouldn’t be quite as important, but this one looks quite good, and it’s nice to be able to connect it to your phone for use on the go. Pull the mic off, and nobody would say it’s a gaming headset. The closest alternatives with this set of features are the Steelseries Arctis 9 and Arctis Pro Wireless headsets as they also support Bluetooth, but they don’t do Apt-X and still look very much like gaming headsets, making them less suitable for wearing in public.

The headset also supports multiple device inputs simultaneously, which is another nice practicality feature. Having the headset connected to your PC over the dongle, and to your phone over Bluethooth, is great not only for easy on-the-go switching, but you also don’t need to take the headset off when you receive calls. Music quality is also better over Apt-X.

A quick range test showed disappointing results. In my apartment, I have my office at one end, and most headsets can reach all the way to kitchen midway through while maintaining a stable connection. The very best headsets will stay connected all the way to the other side of my flat, but not the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT: I was barely able to take a step out of my office into the hallway.

Audio quality

Sound quality is always a bit of a mixed bag with gaming headsets, especially wireless units. Of course, this makes sense: The drivers are tuned to help you pick up the enemy’s footsteps and reloading noises, and to give an engaging amount of bass for explosions. And since the wireless connection is tuned more for low-latency than audio quality, you end up with sound that generally doesn’t please audiophiles.

And while the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is no exception to that set of premises, it actually fares quite well, especially over the Bluetooth connection when using a source device that supports the Apt-X codec. Music is enjoyable, voices are clear and there’s enough detail to please most listeners. It’s not going to compare to the best hi-fi headphones out there — it’s not even in the same league — but for a gaming headset that has the practicality to double as your everyday headphones, it’s more than adequate.

But again, keep in mind that audio quality will suffer a bit with the included 2.5 GHz dongle on PC – this isn’t something you’ll notice in game at all as most games don’t have rich enough audio quality anyway. The incoming voice streams from multiplayer chats also aren’t any good, but if you’re playing music for enjoyment, you may prefer to run that from your phone or using a wired connection. The only catch is that battery life on dual devices is quite limited – you’ll be lucky to reach 15 hours.

Our take

Corsair’s Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is a stunning wireless gaming headset that tries to achieve it all. And while it doesn’t do a perfect job, it offers up a ton of practicality with its excellent connectivity options, great control ergonomics, beautiful production quality, and decent comfort. If you’re asking whether the $269 price tag is worth it, I’d say probably — if you need one headset that can do it all. Just keep in mind that wired headsets often sound better, the battery life isn’t the best, and it has a very short wireless range.

Are there any alternatives?

There are always a ton of alternatives in the gaming headset space, but few look as good as Corsair’s cans and practicality remains an issue – Bluetooth often isn’t present on many models and a mic that isn’t removable, along with garish gamer styling, makes use as an everyday, outdoors headset a tough sell on many units. With this combination of connectivity features, the Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is in a league of its own. The closest alternative would be Steelseries’ Arctis 9 and Arctis Pro headsets, but they don’t carry the same visual appeal, nor do they support the Apt-X codec for high-quality sound over Bluetooth.

If you’re looking to save some money and don’t mind skipping Bluetooth altogether, Logitech’s G Pro X Wireless headset is a great alternative that’s more comfortable, but less practical.

How long will it last?

This headset should last you about three to four years, depending on your usage style. The delicate pleather is likely to fall apart first after intensive use, and I have my concerns about battery life over the years as it isn’t the best to begin with.

Should I buy it?

If you’re in the market for a new wireless gaming headset and want it to double as your everyday, go-to headphones, the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT is certainly worth considering. It’s a little pricey, but as it can replace multiple headphones, the price is justified.

Editors’ Choice




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Tech News

iPhone 13 rumor claims Apple may add reverse wireless charging

It seems like rumors concerning the next generation of Apple products never end. When the latest generation of devices like the iPhone launch, rumors about the next generation begin to surface. Some new rumors are making the rounds concerning the iPhone 13 and what we might be able to expect for the next-generation iPhone models.

One of the most interesting of the new rumors is that Apple is integrating larger wireless charging coils. One potential reason for the integration of larger wireless charging coils is to allow for reverse wireless charging. Reverse wireless charging is something that’s been available on the Galaxy line of smartphones for a while.

With the Galaxy line of smartphones, reverse charging allows users to turn their phone into a wireless charging device for someone else’s phone. That means you can use one fully charged Galaxy device to charge another that is about to go dead without needing an outlet or cables.

Larger wireless charging coils could also improve heat management and allow higher wattage, possibly leading to faster wireless charging. However, the source of the rumor, Max Weinbach, says the reason for the larger charging coils could be because the iPhones will feature stronger MagSafe magnets. Interestingly, filings that Apple made with the FCC for the current generation iPhone show that all iPhone 12 models have the ability to reverse wirelessly charge other devices. However, Apple didn’t roll that feature out.

Other reports have indicated that Apple intends to roll out reverse wireless charging on the next-generation iPad Pro expected in 2022. As for why the current generation iPhone models allegedly have support for reverse wireless charging, and it wasn’t implemented, it may be because of a significant battery drain. The larger battery inside an iPad Pro would allow the tablet to operate longer while sharing its power with an Apple Watch or AirPods.

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Categories
AI

Intel launches more silicon and software for 5G wireless networks

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Intel made the case today that its silicon chips and software are accelerating 5G wireless networks at the edge, and the big chipmaker is launching new chips to further improve its position in virtual radio access networks (vRAN) and other 5G technologies.

Intel VP Dan Rodriguez made the announcements in a keynote speech for the virtual Mobile World Congress event. By 2023, experts expect 75% of data will be created outside of the datacenter — at the edge in factories, hospitals, retail stores, and across cities. Developers want to converge various capabilities at the edge, such as AI, analytics, media, and networking, and Intel wants to be there with the right technology.

In a recent survey of 511 information technology decision-makers, over 78% said they believe 5G technology is crucial to keeping pace with innovation, and nearly 80% said 5G technologies will affect their businesses, Intel reported.

With this in mind, Rodriguez said Reliance Jio, Deutsche Telekom, and Dish Wireless are transforming their networks on Intel architecture. The vRAN promises cloud-like agility and automation capabilities that can help optimize the RAN performance and ultimately improve the experience for users.

Intel is also expanding its family of Agilex FPGA (field programmable gate array), or highly programmable chips. The company is adding a new FPGA with integrated cryptography acceleration that can support MACSec in 5G applications. This adds another layer of security to vRAN at the fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul levels.

Above: Intel is unveiling new 5G wireless network tech at MWC 2021.

Image Credit: Intel

Intel also said the Intel Ethernet 800 Series family is expanding with the company’s first SyncE capable Ethernet Adapter designed for space-constrained systems on the edge and well-suited for both high-bandwidth 4G and 5G RAN, as well as time- and latency-sensitive applications in industrial, financial, and energy sectors, among others.

Intel summed up the tech as its Intel Network Platform, a technology foundation that aims to reduce development complexity, accelerate time to market, and help customers and partners take advantage of features in Intel hardware — from core to access to edge. Intel says its Intel Network Platform includes system-level reference architectures, drivers, and software building blocks that enable rapid development and delivery of Intel-powered network solutions and an easier, faster path to developing and optimizing network software.

Rodriguez said nearly all commercial vRAN deployments are running on Intel technology. In the years ahead, Intel sees global vRAN base station deployments scaling from hundreds to “hundreds of thousands,” and eventually millions.

Why it matters

Above: Intel’s Mobile World Congress in 2018.

Intel said operators of 5G networks want a more agile, flexible infrastructure to unleash the full possibilities of 5G and edge as they address increased network demands from more connected devices. At the same time, global digitalization is creating new opportunities to use the potential of 5G, edge, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud to reshape industries ranging from manufacturing to retail, health care, education, and more.

Decision-makers also revealed that they view edge as one of the top three use cases for 5G in the next two years. With Intel’s portfolio delivering silicon and optimized software solutions, the company can tap into an estimated $65 billion edge silicon opportunity by 2025. Intel technology is already deployed in over 35,000 end customer edge implementations.

Network deployments

Operators like Deutsche Telekom, Dish Wireless, and Reliance Jio are relying on Intel technology. Reliance Jio announced it will participate in co-innovations with Intel in 5G radio and wireless core and collaborate in areas that include AI, cloud, and edge computing, which will help with 5G deployment.

Deutsche Telekom is using Intel FlexRAN technology with accelerators in O-RAN Town, in the O-RAN network it is deploying in Neubrandenburg, Germany — a city of 65,000 people spread out over 33 square miles. The company is relying on Intel as a technology partner to deliver high-performance RAN at scale.

Dish Wireless is relying on Intel’s contributions to the 5G ecosystem as it builds out the first cloud-native 5G network in the U.S. Its inaugural launch in Las Vegas, as well as its nationwide network, will be deployed on infrastructure powered by Intel technology in the network core, access, and edge.

Cohere is pioneering a new approach to improving spectrum utilization by leveraging capabilities in FlexRAN. It is integrating and optimizing spectrum multiplier software in the RAN intelligent controller. Cohere’s testing shows its Delay Doppler spatial multiplexing technology is improving channel estimation and delivering an up to 2 times improvement in spectrum utilization for operators. That’s what Vodafone has seen in 700Mhz testing in its labs.

And Cellnex Telecom — with support from Intel, Lenovo, and Nearby Computing — is delivering edge capabilities based on Intel Smart Edge Open. This will allow Cellnex to act faster on data, provide service-level management, improve quality of service, and deliver a more consistent experience to its end users. Deployed in Barcelona, this solution will extend to more markets using the blueprint developed with Intel and Nearby Computing.

Intel said its network business grew 20% between 2019 and 2020, from $5 billion to $6 billion. The company’s strong position is the result of early investments in hardware and software.

Intel predicted a bright future for the industry. As 5G blooms to meet its full potential alongside edge computing, experts expect artificial intelligence, the cloud, and smart cities will become the norm. Factory automation is also expected to flourish with Industry 4.0, and retail locations will redesign the shopping experience. For consumers, cloud gaming and virtual and augmented reality over mobile networks will become an everyday experience, Rodriguez said.

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