Hardware Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – A Power House in a Small Device

Pros:
+Beautiful and bright AMOLED screen offering vibrant pictures and color depth
+Absurdly slim and chic for a tablet
+Batteries last quite a while even while streaming or gaming
+Upgraded memory up to 128GB via Micro SD card
+Lightning fast processing power

Cons:
-iPad Air is almost as cheap
-Comes suited with Microsoft Apps
-Plastic-ish build, going away from any form of metal
-Two speakers on bottom inhibit movie watching or gaming all together
-Headphones required to truly enjoy for media with sound


 

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When it comes to tablets we are familiar with the fact that Apple has taken that side of the market by storm. They have created some of the cheapest, most powerful, and fastest tablets on the Earth at an affordable cost. They have also offered up free OS upgrades to owners of older devices, while ensuring that performance gains to those older devices would be plausible with how the devices access apps, and even memory. Much like ACER preparing to enter the ring with their Predator performance line, we see Samsung once more entering the ring, but this time, they’re ready to yank the red carpet right from underneath everyone else and take it for their own.

Entering the ring is Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2, which launched last year, and remains fairly relative in the terms of technology performance and upgrades. This competitor comes packed with Android offering up Google Services and even a bit of Microsoft’s own apps to allow those needing instant access to their Microsoft accounts the ease of doing so. If you have Office 365 and One Drive? Much like Google your apps are at your finger tips and at your disposal if needed be. But how does this thing compare to the market that’s becoming over-saturated with devices claiming to be performance ones? The 8 inch version, which is the one we are reviewing is extremely light, weighing in at roughly .5 to .6 pounds, the device is extremely light weight, meaning that users don’t have to worry about weight being an issue unlike former iPad devices. For those that are familiar with the iPad Air, you already know the device is light for the 10 inch version, weighing in at roughly 1lb, which makes the device alone for a metal one, feathery in weight, but still with a bit of a draw in the sense of being a strain to hold. However, this doesn’t fix the issue that fans will be slight disappointed with the devices quality in the terms of sound.

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For many that are familiar with sound quality, HTC has been dominating the market with their Boom Sound technology, which adheres to the need of quality for both multimedia and even gaming. Unlike HTC’s newer line of phones and tablets, Samsung finds itself staggering a bit. With both of the speakers being right at the bottom of the device near the USB, the sound suffers a bit when trying to hold it from the sides to enjoy films or even games. This little bit of trouble will lead to upcoming owners to needing a pair of headphones to really enjoy what they are doing without any trouble or annoyances. Much like the speakers and the USB, the audio jack is housed near the speakers, but also the USB port, making this device struggle a bit in the terms of enjoyability since cords will get in the way depending on what owners are doing. If a Skype call or even a vine? The audio situation won’t be much trouble, but as stated. For those preparing for a binging session, don’t get too comfy, you’ll want to find your headset first, which means don’t plan on sharing with others.

But even with that minor nuance, the Tab S2 is a powerful device, offering up a unique security that Apple users have been enjoying, which allows for fingerprint recognition so that the tablet can’t be unlocked by anyone, but you via the home button. The downside? Your fingerprint is stored and if someone really wanted it? It’s there for the taking. For those wondering though, the fingerprint recognition setup is rather easy, and takes only a few minutes while the S6 was a bit more of a hassle to do. Don’t want kids accessing the tablet or someone accessing work files? You can easily lock it down via the fingerprint security and make it so that it’s yours and yours only. However, when looking at the device? We aren’t looking at just the devices security, but also its overall performance.

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When looking at the Tab S2 via performance, this is where the tablet itself truly shines, and for my use? I stress tested it with games, and lots of them. The most demanding one of the lot? This War of Mine, which many fans have become familiar with on consoles and steam, but for me? It was time to take on the Tablet twist to it. Like many games it and Vainglory are rather demanding games, both of them suiting themselves with heavy particle effects, and even animations. This means that Samsung has gone all out with ensuring the Exynos octacore processor would be doing the job. To achieve this they combined both a quad-core chip at 1.9GHz with a second one sitting around 1.3GHz quad-core chip. With that ontop of it they packed the LTE or Wi-Fi versions both with 3GB’s of RAM, which is perfect to get the job done and this was perfectly exhibited while playing both This War of Mine and Vainglory as load times were quick, frames remained smooth, and both games acted just fine throughout my time with them to date.

But what Samsung does do right is packing this thing with an SD card slot so that 32GB’s doesn’t get quickly eaten by video’s, photo’s or even apps that can go on the SD card. If you’ve owned an Apple device, you know this becomes a problem, and quite quickly due to download sizes. All the while users can enjoy some built-in apps thanks to Samsung’s little bit of apps that they include, which is a popular and favorite one: Milk Music. This app allows users to customize radio stations based on their preference. For the test we decided to make a station that combined both EDM (Electronic Dance Music) with Chill, which included laid back EDM style music for those seeking to relax. For those that want a mix of say indie and techno? Have at it, this app makes just that possible. This is rather nice for those looking to have some music while playing their tablet based games or surfing the web. For a device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is powerful, beautiful, and offers up a lot of capabilities, but the price could be a bit steep for some.

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For a tablet that is powerful, beautiful, and extremely light weight, the Galaxy Tab S2 is by far one of the best ones I have used to date. It offers a good bit of flexibility, a nice warranty, and a bang for its buck. For those wondering what the prices are. Samsung has the devices sitting at 400 USD for the 8-inch model, and 500 USD for the 9.7-inch model. While looking at one, it is suggested to check around as both Best Buy and Amazon have been having some reasonable sales on them. Both having them promotional wise between 350-400 USD depending on the screen size. If you are looking for for a device that is sleek, light-weight, and easy for on the go? This device is the best on the market and it shows through the work done here on Blast Away the Game Review. After hours of testing, the device has earned its stay for the long haul and one that’ll be here for quite some time. Sorry Apple, you got bested this time around.


 

Our review is based upon the hardware we purchased ourselves.  For information about our ethics policy please click here.


 Final Score: 8 out of 10


 

About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on TwitterGoogle+, and or you can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

Review: V-MODA Crossfade M100 Headeset – A Killer App Above The Rest

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Review by Devon Day

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Hello fellow readers of Blast Away! This is Devon here; giving you a review of another gaming product in the V-MODA Crossfade M100. A crowd sourced headphone, V-MODA took all the lessons learned from its LP series to create their top of the line headphone. Designed to compete with the likes of Beats, Audio Technical, Sony and others, VMODA boasts true ‘Reference Class Sound For the Modern Audiophile’. Priced at $300, it is more than some would pay for in a headphone, but at the same time its an absolute steal. If you want to find out why the Crossfade M100 is easily the best $300 to spend, read on to find out!

Upon holding the Crossfade M100, I could easily tell how much V-MODA was out to prove this headphone was a cut above the rest; style and simplicity to boot. There is a tremendous amount of detail throughout, such as its fold in mechanism, stitched headband, dual sided 3.5mm input, kevlar braided cable and soft earpads. To top it all off, V-MODA has something called ‘Shield Plates’ on the sides of the headphone. They are accessories you can add onto the Crossfade M100 through just basic colors or through their official site using your own patterns. It is quite nice to have a company sympathize with the audience geared towards personalization. On top of the headband lies the V-MODA branding. In addition, inside the box, the headphone comes with its own weatherproof case that houses a 1/4 inch adapter for hi-fi gear and something known as a V-Cork to prevent dust and dirt build up from the side of the headphone you are not using. My only complaint is that were are not given the tool needed to remove the Shield Plates.

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The M100 looks just are not for show either. Tested beyond military standards according to VMODA, the M100 should easily be able to handle anything type of abuse. Even throwing these on the floor only resulted in the folding mechanism to fold one of the sides of the headphone. Not only is the headphone built like a tank, so is the cable. Using military grade Kevlar, bending this in any shape or form didn’t short any audio frequencies during testing. My only complaint with this is that the cables are partially exposed; potentially resulting into some snags on surfaces by accident. Much like the build quality though, the comfort is quite stellar. To my ears, the pads provide an generous amount of comfort without my ears touching the drivers. However, for others, the padding may not be enough. VMODA does offer an optional XL Earpad option for $20, but it would have been nice to include a thicker set of default pads or include this option to start out with.

The Crossfade M100 has quite an impressive feature set. Being able to connect to any 3.5mm compatible device isn’t impressive, but its dual inputs are. You can use either side as a source for your audio; adding more personalization from the headphones. For me, this is good because my preferred side is the right as opposed to the left. Furthermore, you can remove the V-Cork to add another headphone towards the mix for two or use VMODA’s provided SharePlay Cable to add length and add an additional headphone for three total. One thing of note though; check your headphones impedance rating. If your headphone has a higher impedance than 32, the Share-Play feature will not work properly. Moving along is something V-MODA calls a CLIQFOLD hinge; making it the most portable headphone we at Blast Away have tested. Essentially, both earcups can be folded into the headphone itself. This allows for excellent portability for any type of bag or other form of transportation.

Now for the most important piece of the review; sound performance. V-MODA claims that their patented dual diaphragm drivers for the Crossfade M100 are more well rounded and balanced out in sound than their LP series of headphones thanks to over 200 musical professionals and audio enthusiast feedback; using a port system for what they call ‘3D Airflow’ to increase sound-stage, detail and clarity as icing on the cake. While I didn’t have the LP series on hand, I was curious to see if the Crossfade M100 could live up towards my expectations.

I have to say, coming from headphones such as NADs HP 50, Sony’s recently released MDR1A, and Audio Technicas MSR7, the Crossfade M100 was exceptional and held its own quite well. Firing up Iron Maidens ‘The Number of The Beast’, the M100 delivered; handling the symbol crashes and violent guitar riffs with excellent clarity and separation. Dubstep tracks, such as ‘Kansas City Winter’, the Crossfade M100 handled the expansive bass drops and aggressive sound loops with ease. Stevie Wonders ‘Higher Ground’ was incredible. The sound stage made feel as if I could feel every symbol crash and guitar pick being played; Stevie handling the rhythmic tone as well. The sound signature of the M100 is laid back but retains enough detail, clarity, separation, and sound stage to make audio less fatuiging and pleasing to the ears. Using a Astro Mixamp using Dolby Pro Logic IIx for Advanced Warfare, the Crossfade M100s sweet, yet detailed and wide sound-stage allowed me to pick out enemies quite well even without Dolby Headphone. Engaging Dolby Headphone technology enabled me to pick up every detail possible; so much so that I was able to obtain victories for my team often in 1v4 situations. Other games such as Zone of the Enders HD Collection or Ni No Kuni also delivered beautifully pleasing results.

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While the aforementioned headphones do out place the Crossfade M100s in some areas, such as the HP50’s sound-stage and detail, MDR1As tonal balance, and MSR1’s clarity, they don’t provide enough of these superior qualities to knock the Crossfade M100s outright; their own problems to boot, such as the HP50s having excellent bass control, but lacking bass decay, the MDR1A’s well rounded sound signature or lack of clarity and detail, or the MSR7 excellent detail but poor harshness on violent tracks. All in all, the Crossfade V-MODA doesn’t have the perfect sound, but it also doesn’t have a headphone capable of countering it either.

To sum it up, the Crossfade M100 is V-MODA’s Killer App. Much like a US Army Combat Knife forged from the most pristine of materials, the M100 doesn’t aspire perfection towards one particular area, but does everything exceptionally well; so much so that the M100 is my go to headphone. $300 isn’t something people would consider, but considering the Beats Studio garners the same price tag, it isn’t too far off. With its impressive aesthetics, exceptional durability, great comfort, tremendous personalization, superb feature set, and well crafted sound, those who want the rare complete package need to look no further than the M100. That being said, we here at Blast Away The Game Review give the V-MODA Crossfade M100 a perfect 10/10. It is also the first gaming accessory at Blast Away the Game Review to ever earn this award.

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Thank you for reading! This has been Devon, giving you a product review. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask! Until next time, this Devon Day and I will catch you guys later.


Final Score: 10 out of 10


About the Writer:

Devon_Day_BATGRA man growing up between the gaming boundaries on the 5th generation Nintendo 64, but admiring the 3rd gen. Nintendo Entertainment System and 4th generation Sega Genesis for their contributions, Devon Day always has something on his mind regarding video games and the accessories they contain. His first was a microphone for the Nintendo 64 for the “Hey You, Pikachu!” video game, but expanded towards the next line up of gaming peripherals including the Astro A40, MadCatz MLG Pro Circiut Controller, MadCatz STRIKE 7, and many other gaming gadgets. Now loving gaming tech more than ever, he sees this generation crucial to bring the full circle of social connectivity that the 7th. generation of video game consoles started.

Review: Turtle Beach’s Marvel Seven Headset – A Sequel to the Budget Legends

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Review by Devon Day

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The Turtle Beach X12, is a headset regarded by many to be the pinnacle of Turtle Beach’s wired gaming audio systems. Ever since then, however, Turtle Beach couldn’t find a way to recapture the magic the X12 had. Their latest model in the XP Seven had the audio side down, but the longevity was gone. Turtle Beach took those criticisms to heart, teamed up with Marvel, and brought the Marvel Seven, a headset that uses the XP Seven build, but comes with a Dolby Stereo mixamp. Even with that said, how well does Turtle Beach improve, and, for $99.99, can it even match the spiritual success of the X12? Read on to find out!

Upon unpacking the box, I was very impressed with the way Turtle Beach had packed their headset this time around: much neater and more streamlined. After further revealing the contents, we get a Marvel themed headset, two Thor speaker tags, two marvel tags, an inline amp, and other accessories you will need. Simply put, it is one of the best offerings Turtle Beach has done so far, harkening back to the X12 days. All cords are well strong, and the Marvel Seven is well built, albeit for this price, I wish there would have been more metal components. Apart from that, the Marvel Seven is easily geared for the Marvel fans, and Thor’s speaker plates drive this cosmetic home. The inline amp is also streamlined: A much better cry than the nightmarish ACU Turtle Beach had. So, the Seven can easily deliver on the looks and retain the simplicity of its successor. However, build is something Turtle Beach has struggled with wired headphones. How does the build hold? Read on to find out!

One week: That’s the expectancy I have had with many of Turtle Beach’s wired products after the X12. I also have had this headset for one week as well. What do I think? I think that Turtle Beach FINALLY learned their lesson. I have had ZERO problems with this wired offering from Turtle Beach, nor did I find any problems with the inline amp either. This is phenomenal, to say the least. The whole “Left-Turtle” issue that Turtle Beach has had with other headphones? Throw that notion out of the park with the Marvel. Those days of shipping back your headset are GONE! Turtle Beach has hit this one out of the park, as it lives up to its predecessor in the X12. This headset does have the profile of the build-prone XP Seven, but is everything the XP Seven wasn’t: A nice piece of audio gear that can last you months or even years.

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Everything that sucked about other Turtle Beach wired headphones, especially the XP Seven, doesn’t on the Marvel Seven. Turtle Beach must have heard the complaints of the XP Seven and made it a point to add durability to make Marvel and the Asgardian God himself happy, along with the fans. What about comfort? Let’s continue on to that.

For comfort, while the inline amp is simple to use, the Marvel is good. While the neoprene mesh ear cushions are great, the clamping force is not. This thing is like vice-grips! They hurt that much, and it really is too bad, for the breathable ear-cups would make me wear these for hours on end. Thankfully though, if you do wear them enough, the clamping force does go away. The amp, as stated before, is simple, and that’s what you want out of such a high, expensive device. All the volume roller’s have good enough tension, and they are easy to use. In the end, the inline amp was great, but while the comfort of the Seven was good, it’s not what I have experienced with the X12 due to it’s heavy clamping force. Again, let it wear down for improved comfort, but you will have to weather the pinch on your head. How well are the Marvel’s features? Read on to find out!

All right. Now time for the meat ‘n potatoes of this. To get this out of the way: no. This isn’t much different from the ACU. I mean MUCH though. There are volume rulers for your mobile, treble, bass, and chat. There is also a switch to change your mobile settings from talk or music. While I am happy that these aren’t touch-sensitive, I am disappointed that you cannot tell how much volume there is upon each setting. Apart from that though, not much else. No Dolby Digital 5.1, which is a MAJOR disappointment at this price, but there is one good catch. You can use the Marvel Seven as normal headphones and to plug in to a mixamp, like Astro, but that is asking for a bite out of your wallet. You can also use these as mobile headphones on the go, and rest assured, just about every type of device can be powered by it. Although no other headphone in its price range, sans the Spectre, uses these features, there is just one problem: the PX22 does, and that headphone costs much less. Sure, you cannot remove the microphone from the PX22, but the inline amp is the EXACT SAME THING. I kid you not, they are virtually identical, minus their color palette. Well, the Marvel Seven has great features, but the price you are paying for them is too much. It’s cousin, the PX22, has the EXACT same features, and that headset is $70-80! Can the performance help? Find out!

The Marvel Seven performed up to its price tag. While I am still disappointed that there is no DD 5.1, the Pro Logic IIx did work well enough to create a good gaming experience, so much so that I felt like I was almost experiencing borderline DD 5.1. In games like Uncharted 2, dialogue, explosions, and gunshots were all defined and clear. The mobile chat/music was For other games like Black Ops 2, footsteps were good to discern, but that lack of DD 5.1 made it feel a bit awkward. It’s not that the Marvel doesn’t do Pro Logic IIx terrible, it is just that, without those other 3 channels of audio, you get a “left or right” direction. Again, not too hard, but won’t be easy. For music, the Marvel was really good, much to my surprise. Low end could use more definition, but mids and highs were great. Disturbeds album “Ten Thousand Fists” sounded awesome, with the Marvel easily handling the distortion and mixing of various instruments. Mozart’s Requiem, however, sounds awesome. These headphones aren’t analytic like the Sennheiser HD 595’s, but using these can be a good alternative. Trumpet cues, tympani beats, and vocals could be heard very well. If you do get the Astro Mixamp, the Marvel sounds phenomenal. Not as great as the MMX, but slightly better than the Astro A40. Everything got kicked up a notch, and games like Battlefield 3 showcase this with the Sevens easily handling high intensive sections of matches without blending in to the overall sound mix too much. While the driver size doesn’t matter, the distortion between the two is this: The Marvel Seven is better, but not by much. Bass wise, again, I wish that the Marvel Seven had I bit more decay, but that is okay since the sound-stage was very pleasing to, even for closed back headphones, which usually have problems due to the compression of audio going into your ears. For the inline amp, it performed flawlessly with no hitches. Not one time did I receive any static or distortion when using the call back feature. Turning up the treble and bass worked wonders, as clarity for those spectrum got even more so great. Clarity wise, the Marvel Seven does very well. I could easily pick off enemy footsteps in Black Ops II, and could hear dialogue in heavy intensive movie sections like what would be experienced in the movie 300.

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Overall, very pleased with the Marvel Seven. The sound sings better swan songs than the X12, and almost as good as the A40. With that done, time for the verdict!

The Marvel Seven: A love letter to Marvel Fans. Built for the fans, this headset encompass everything that Thor himself would be proud of: A piece of gaming audio that can handle many situations well without a hitch and can easily go up against its many foes. If you are a die-hard Marvel fan, and you need Marvel paraphernalia, the Marvel Seven is an excellent choice. Even if you aren’t a Marvel fan, the Marvel Seven is a sweet pair of headphones to have, and it is everything that the XP Seven should have been, but Turtle Beach got it right this time around.


Final Score: 9 out of 10


About the Writer:

Devon_Day_BATGRA man growing up between the gaming boundaries on the 5th generation Nintendo 64, but admiring the 3rd gen. Nintendo Entertainment System and 4th generation Sega Genesis for their contributions, Devon Day always has something on his mind regarding video games and the accessories they contain. His first was a microphone for the Nintendo 64 for the “Hey You, Pikachu!” video game, but expanded towards the next line up of gaming peripherals including the Astro A40, MadCatz MLG Pro Circiut Controller, MadCatz STRIKE 7, and many other gaming gadgets. Now loving gaming tech more than ever, he sees this generation crucial to bring the full circle of social connectivity that the 7th. generation of video game consoles started.

Review: New Nintendo 3DS XL – 3D Gaming Gets a Fresh Breath of Air

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Review by Dustin Murphy

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Pros:
-3D Effects have had had a significant upgrade with 3D Face Tracking
-C-Stick functionality vastly improves gameplay on original 3DS titles
-Frame Rates in 3D on older titles heavily improved upon
-Button placements are much easier to adapt to and seem rather well planned
-Long sessions of gaming is now possible with how comfortable the NN3DS XL is made
-Vastly improved load times on some games*
-Battery life is significantly better on the NN3DS XL vs 3DS XL original
-amiibo functionality is there and allows for NFC to be used without any additional equipment

Cons:
-No wireless button to turn it on and off with
-Does not ship with a charger
-Migrating from previous 3DS or upgrading memory of the 3DS is a hassle
-Requires a screwdriver to remove black plate to upgrade or migrate memory cards
-Analog stick still feels cheaply made and still doesn’t seem Super Smash Bros. proof
-Friend codes are still intact and does not allow for Wii U style friends listing


With it’s launch on February 13th, 2015, the New Nintendo 3DS XL ushered in a new ‘era’ of enjoyability for Nintendo 3DS fans. This ‘era’ also ushered in a few small nuances that caused fans and newcomers to grumble as there have been a few limitations regarding the handheld. The nuances are ones that I, myself, have had to overcome and decide to acknowledge when it came down to trying to enjoy the handheld. Even with its new sleek form factor, which feels a lot more friendly to the diehard gamer who can use one entire battery charge in a single go, the New Nintendo 3DS XL is a vast improvement from its predecessors that seemed to stumble in the 3D realm itself. So this time? We’ve decided to go hands-on with the New Nintendo 3DS XL in order to bring you our hands-on impressions of it that will lead up to our review in the upcoming weeks.

/-/ The Good /-/

New and Gamer Friendly Control Layout:

When sitting down and placing the New Nintendo 3DS XL with the original 3DS XL, there are a few things that you need to take in note. One is that the New Nintendo 3DS XL has improved on the overall form-factor. This means that the handheld is sleeker, easier to hold, and doesn’t feel as top heavy as the previous one. Welcoming itself with this capability, it’s also hard to not notice that overall, there are a few big changes. Moving from having the start, home, and select buttons on the top near the touch pad on the bottom, Nintendo has vastly improved button placements; now you will find your buttons for the start as well as select to the right side under the ‘B’ button, whilst the power button can be found on the bottom of the handheld. A change that is actually a nice implementation and means that players won’t be accidentally bumping the power button during long hours of play or even downloading a rather large title.

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Another thing is the noticeable change in placement of the following. The overall changes here are huge and minor, which leaves us starting with the biggest one: Cartridge placement. Now gamers will no longer find themselves hassling with removing games from behind their 3DS screen, this is something that is a very welcomed sight and has made gaming on the handheld rather easy versus slightly meticulous when having to either, open your screen or close it based upon ease of access to ensure the top screen didn’t get scratched, damage, or just even in the way when swapping between games (for those of you who don’t prefer digital). With the game slot now being on the bottom of the handheld, the New Nintendo 3DS XL is a lot more user friendly on this note and allowed for ease of swapping out games and enjoying them without being slowed down at all.

Stylus placement is something that fans may or may not be concerned about. I for one have found the stylus placement a bit interesting thanks to the new design. The stylus placement has been moved from the top (original 3DS small), to the side (3DS XL) and now to the bottom (NN3DS XL). This has made for an interesting time when needing to constantly pull out the stylus during long sessions of gaming. So, if you are like me, you will find yourself constantly latching the rather snug stylus in and out of its slot, and unfortunately having to cope with the fact that the stylus is placed in a rather odd and almost annoying place on the new handhelds build. Though it’s a minor irritation, it’s one that seems to bug a few others out there. However, fear not, just grab a back-up stylus that you don’t mind laying around and use it as it will defeat the need to constantly latch and unlatch the stylus from its placement slot.

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Volume slider – now this is something that took a few people a moment to realize (if they didn’t read the booklet or have a sharp eye) to discover. With it no longer being placed on the side of the handheld, players will need to adjust to looking onto the left side of their top screen segment in order to find it. The slider, however, adjusts just as the 3D does, which is a nice thing seeing as where it is placed. Hopefully this means no broken screens, sliders, etc when having to quickly adjust the volume when in a car, on a train, on a plane, or just simply in some form of transit.

Adaptive Face Tracking 3D:

It’s no doubt that you have experienced the old Nintendo 3DS handheld and found yourself turning the 3D effect on many games off due to blurring 3D effects. This time around is a bit different. After having spent almost a literal 24 hours with the handheld, the New Nintendo 3DS is impressive let alone immersive compared to the past models. With Nintendo’s new implementation on face-tracking technologies, gamers can once more feel free to flick on those 3D tools, sit in a dim room (moderately lit near your face or it may/may not be able to track your face), and enjoy a session of full-on 3D gaming.

This time sitting for hours with 3D on is something that is quite immersive and worthwhile. Having sat and played games such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire, and even the smash hit Bravely Default just to experience the enhanced 3D capability and frame rates. Each of the games were noted to play better, not require the annoying circle pad pro attachment, and even allowed for us to find ourselves laying back in 3D while never once losing enjoyment of the systems newly implemented 3D upgrades.

Note that we did see small frame rate drops between 3D-less and 3D enabled gameplay on Majora’s Mask, but it was not significant enough to interrupt our gameplay.

The C-Stick/LZ/RZ Buttons or ‘Circle Pad Pro’:

Anyone that has played games such as Resident Evil: Revelations, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, it was hard not to take advantage of the C-Stick functionality, but also trying out the LZ and RZ button’s. For Kingdom Hearts, the buttons worked gracefully, allowing for better gameflow, but also allowing for an easier time adapting to combat scenarios versus having to manually brush through enemies.

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Though the buttons have little to no use at this time due to the unreleased “New Nintendo 3DS Exclusive Titles” gamers will find themselves a bit dumbfounded as to why the buttons even exist until these games launch, which will be a bit of a nuisance. Though the C-Stick is instantly usable and did allow for ease of controlling the games that were played. The most noticeable use was in games such as Resident Evil: Revelations, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and the Monster Hunter titles, which is where it was found that the c-stick made the games much easier to play and even more enjoyable. Though for Resident Evil: Revelations, it took a bit longer to adjust to the speed of the c-stick versus what we were used to with the Circle Pad Pro. This new model’s buttons easily put it on par with Sony’s PlayStation Vita and could even rival it in the upcoming days.

Faster Download Speeds:

With the new processors, new system, and even improved WiFi capability, there’s only one question that would be present: How fast are the downloads? With the ever-growing library of digital games that swarm the Nintendo eShop on a weekly basis, it’s not a surprise that downloading would be a concern, and with many gamers going digital – this is something very important. To test this I decided to take a regular 3DS XL, and compare it to the N3DS XL to compare times. Using a 50 mbps internet for both handhelds, it was time to test the download times. The title we used was Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D.

The Regular 3DS XL took a rather insane amount of time, clocking in at roughly 33.5 minutes of download time, which left a bit of a pit in the stomach while the eager want to play it was present. This meant that the wait was definitely a rather large one, which lead to a bit of a cringe worthy experience, but something that vastly changed was when it came down to the N3DS XL’s turn to run that same exact download, which clocked in at a much faster ratio. The time to download? 13.28 minutes, which put the console almost a whopping 20.22 minutes faster to complete the same exact download with the same network usage (meaning that the 3DS’s were the only thing online). So where does that lead the favor? Noticeably in the newly launched New Nintendo 3DS XL’s favor and puts the other one at a bit of a weak point.

Battery Life:

There’s nothing really to say here. The battery life is very extensive and allowed for a solid 6 hours of Pokémon Alpha Sapphire to be played (3D on) and a good 5.5 to 6 hours of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to be played between charges, which means Nintendo has lived up to the extended battery life with all hardware on (this included the 3D, WiFi, sound at full, and even auto-brightness turned on). This is a heavy improvement over the unfortunate 3-5 hours of battery I had experienced with the Nintendo 3DS XL when playing the same games. The charge time, however, was long. I timed it in at almost 4 hours to a full charge from a dead battery (to test the battery, we had to kill it), which left us in our just short of 24 hours having experienced two full battery lifes of the New Nintendo 3DS this far.

We will update this section in the future if this changes. For now, the battery life is spectacular for gamers on the go, something that the PlayStation Vita does need to take a note from.

/-/ The Bad /-/

Fingerprint/Smudge Central:

If you intend on being like many collectors and or gamers out there, there is one thing anyone hates more than having smudges on the screen, which is smudges ALL over that beautiful and glossy plastic. Unfortunately, Nintendo went back to the same route that we saw with the DS Lite’s, which was a glossy material used on the outside of the handheld in order to make it flashy. The downside? This means scratches (eventually), smearing all over the handheld, and even minor mental irritation for those who want to keep their handheld showroom worthy. This means Nintendo faltered a little bit on the outer material design and will hopefully (we can only cross our fingers) will eventually release those ‘crystal’ or even plastic based ‘armours’ that they released for the previous titles. 

Analog Stick Annoyances:

If there is anything that should have been upgraded when it came to buttons, it was definitely the analog stick. Unfortunately, there are reports that the slide pad for the analog stick has broke and this can be a problem for those of you who love to slap it in directions in order to smack your foe around in Super Smash Bros. Hopefully Nintendo will alter this in the future and give a true analog stick a change. If the one on the Wii U works, why not implement something like it to the handheld? Till them, players will need to take it easy on their analog sticks and just go easy with them until something else changes in the handheld family of the Nintendo 3DS.

/-/ The Ugly /-/

A Screw…Driver is required?!:

New_Nintendo_3DS_XL06

When first migrating over to the New Nintendo 3DS XL, there was a bit of work that had to be done. For those of you who have, are going to, or are intending to buy a New Nintendo 3DS XL, you may want to take a bit of heed when it comes to getting your New Nintendo 3DS XL ready to go so that you may enjoy it to the fullest. First off, you’ll want to head over to IGN’s guide on how to transfer content to the New Nintendo 3DS XL before actually doing this. Why? Because it does require a screw driver, a little bit of tact, and a heck of a lot of patience for those of you who want things done quick.

 Why Nintendo did this, was beyond us, but the thing that was good out of it? This means the battery can be replaced if Nintendo were to release replacement batteries to the public, and allow us to even buy new ones on an as-needed basis.

That Same Damn Friend Code System:

With us now being in 2015, there’s no surprise that the friend code system should be long gone and we should be embracing the ways of the Nintendo ID friend system that the Wii U uses. Guess what? Don’t hold your breath just yet, that same damned code system is back, and yes it’s still annoying for those of you who don’t want to be bothered with it. This is part of why this damn annoying ‘system transfer’ is actually required since Nintendo has yet to join the cloud-base friends system that companies like Sony, Microsoft, Blizzard, and many other companies have already been using. Granted Blizzard is a PC and tablet based (only for Hearthstone) company, they still embraced the Battletag and Blizzard ID.

Sadly, I’ve already questioned as to why we are required to do this since they do require a Nintendo Network ID and well – an account to even access things such as the eShop now. So why can’t we do this yet? Your guess is just as good as ours at this time. It’s not surprising that Nintendo has yet to embrace this methodology of system transferring, but it is quite disappointing in this day and age.

Basic Consumers.. Be Warned:

It’s hard not to love Nintendo, but in the recent years, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed due to the lack of support that the Wii U has received, and well the fact that many consider it a commercial failure. Something that the Wii was not until the hype for it died out and everyone had one. This time around? Nintendo has proven, again, that they don’t know how to name, market, or even help get a growing fanbase to need their hardware or software. Unfortunately, the name of the New Nintendo 3DS XL is another shining approach to this. Why couldn’t they just have called it something new, pushed out to a newer audience versus the mainstream 3DS gamer? Well, this is something we will all have to be stumped by until someone gives that answer to us all.

Though there is a few things that will lead to headaches for the consumer whom is searching for these as a gift, which will be problematic one the holiday seasons roll around and gamers start asking for these. So what’s the big deal? Well Nintendo has already started to ostracize those who don’t upgrade to the new hardware soon. This means that those who are casual to the handheld gaming market will begin to slowly get shunned when exclusive titles such as Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+ (out now), Xenoblade Chronicles 3D, the new Fire Emblem Entry (TBA), and many more titles begin to prepare their launch sometime this year. This means those gamers will begin to get left out as the games require higher functioning hardware to operate as well as play properly.

New_Nintendo_3DS_XL03

Where’s more of this confusion at? Unfortunately North America has been, more-or-less, in blunt words, been screwed out of the New Nintendo 3DS LL (the smaller model that has an odd name too), which has interchangeable faceplates and would allow for consumers to have their very own and unique look to their handhelds. This also is an issue with the New Nintendo 3DS XL since the handheld only released with two base colour’s out of the shoot: Red and Black. This can be a bit of a mind bender as well since the handhelds, well look almost identical when closed and sitting on a table. It’d take a sharp eye to notice that one is a different handheld than the other, which is dumbfounding.

The worst parts? We don’t know to what extent that Nintendo is going to oust the old handheld and go in with the new one. One thing is clear of this though, it may be fast since companies such as GameStop are pushing with their 100 USD buy back on used 3DS XL’s towards the purchase of a N3DS XL. This means we have no clue, but GameStop as a company might if the sales say anything about the N3DS. Several trips to stores such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Hastings (for those of you in the Midwest), and Target proved that the handheld sold fast, which means inventory levels were either low or not even enough to keep up with supply and demand.

The last of the worst parts? The handheld does not come with a charger, which puts people who want one as a new user will need one and those who have one will need to hang onto theirs if they don’t have a spare, which makes trading in their old hand-helds not an option. Luckily, for new consumers the chargers seem to be staying at affordable prices in the used market, but even the new market at this time. Sadly, these can be sparse at stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and even GameStop. Consumers, do note that the handheld comes with a 4GB memory card and will require one of two things. A bigger memory card (Micro-SDHC only) and a PC (if you are migrating) or simply just a lot of patience. The recommendation here? Chuck out the extra 20-60 bucks and grab a decent 32gb memory card and have at it!

/-/ Closing Thoughts /-/

This is where I’d like to take a moment and go into a spew of information as well as personal thoughts. The N3DS XL is a nice upgrade, one that has left me satisfied with my purchase, and left me handing over my old one to my dad for his upcoming 56th birthday in the upcoming days (surprise happy birthday chief!). This also has left me with an overall satisfaction with buying it even though I’ve found a few things that fill in the portions of the review you’ve read up to this point. The New Nintendo 3DS XL is a noticeable improvement over its predecessors and does a good job at making that known thanks to the new hardware Nintendo has put into it despite the few things that became minor irritations.

Even with titles such as Ace Combat Assault Horizon Legacy+, amiibo functionality, Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, as well as Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate being the main draws to the handheld, this isn’t a huge and transformative jump that Nintendo needed in order to bring in new fans. Instead the handheld has already shown a few weaknesses in games such as The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask with its small frame-rate dips that occurred within just the first few minutes of playing it, but also the lack of consumer friendliness. Overall, Nintendo has strived hard to make up for what hole that the Circle Pad Pro left in our need as gamers, but still finds itself stumbling until more games come out, and those games will need to be rather exclusive to it.

Though it is hard to say that the New Nintendo 3DS XL isn’t an upgrade, the step feels like a half step in the right direction, and one that Nintendo needs to keep doing so that they can focus on this family of handhelds, and possibly even work on the Wii U in the process. Now only if they could do that with marketing this handheld as well as the Wii U in both commercials, flyers and sales ads.


Final Score: 7 out of 10


Disclosure Statement: The hardware, games, and equipment used as well as tested on were purchased by Blast Away the Game Review’s reviewers discretion and were not provided to us by Nintendo or the publishers. The review was done at our own discretion and team discussion. You can read our team ethics and policy guide to find out more information.


About the Writer:

Dustin_BATGRDustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, MMO’s, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable and can’t be softened by even the biggest names in the gaming industry. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. To follow Dustin, hit him up on Twitter over at @GamingAnomaly, find him on his Google+. Wanna game with him? You can find him on PSN with RaivynLyken.

Review: Avenger Reflex – A Cyborg Soldier with Unusual Firepower that Lives up to Promises

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Review by Devon Day

Avenger_Reflex_PS4

Chris “Parasite” Durate. Patrick “Aches” Price. Matt “NadeShot” Haag. Do these names sound familiar? If not, these names are some of the most storied names in competitive Call of Duty history; forever etched do to their unique styles of play. From Parasite’s deceptive movement in Search and Destroy, to NadeShot’s tenacity in Domination, these players compete to achieve one goal, win. However, as every great warrior wields their preferred weapon in combat, so do these players. No other weapon is more important than the gaming controller; gaming headsets being a close second.

While Scud Gaming’s controller forever changed the FPS landscape of Major League Gaming, one company in 2009 dared to challenge their rule. Their name was N-Control, and their Avenger Controller quietly became a revolutionary device that was underappreciated by the gaming and competitive communities. Fast forward to 2014, and both communities have taken notice in the Avenger Reflex; N-Control’s latest offering towards the current generation of consoles. This newest offering is a much more streamlined product from its predecessor; the Avenger DEFCON F4. However, Scuf Gaming has also armed themselves in the Scuf 4PS; their updated variant of their predecessor; the Scuf PS. Will the Reflex out-edge the 4PS? Or will the term “You get what you pay for” win with the 4PS beating out the Reflex being over $200 vs. $69.99? Find out today in our review!

Calling the Reflex a futuristic arachnid, preferably a spider, isn’t a bad thing. A streamlined look rocking jet black compliments the Dualshock 4 perfectly. Various appendages and dual trigger skis also further its cyborg look. In addition, not only does it look swell on the DualShock 4, it blends seamlessly with it as well. On top of that, there are small rectangular holes found in these “Trigger Skis.” What they do will be explained later on. As for the rest of the appearance, not much else. Not a bad thing, but nothing else to cover. Now, how does it fare against the Scuf 4PS?

Sadly for the Reflex, not good. While I do like the jet black decision made by N-Control, I just wish there were other color variations. For example, in the case of the Scuf 4PS, there are many options to customize the controller towards your liking. For this review, I had used the Digital Camo Green variant. In addition, custom LED lights for the PS button are also an added bonus. Also, the paddles on the back (I had tested the two paddle variation) blend well on the DualShock 4, but for the Reflex, they do not compare to their bionic arms. Even so, the overall appearance of the Reflex does not stand up towards the 4PS, so the Reflex loses this round, as style and representation are two keynotes for the competitive community. It still has a chance to come back, but not at the moment for the time being.

Using the Reflex on the DualShock is going to feel weird for newcomers. For veterans who have used the DEFCON F4, such as myself, you will feel right at home with the Reflex attached towards your controller. The bionic arm placement was a natural fit, but for newcomers, this could take some time getting used to; especially with the bionic edge placement near the X button, which requires some finesse from your right palm. Utilizing the design of the Trigger Skis also takes time. However, there is a work around. You can actually change these hair triggers into loops. Just take the rubber strip out of one of the holes and form a loop to insert it into that second hole. This does alleviate where your placement of either your index or middle fingers go; depending on your play style. This is a learning curve, and you will need to take some time to get your comfort levels in alignment with the Reflex. For the 4PS, if you own or have experience with the DualShock 4, you will nearly feel right at home.

The difference maker is those paddles on the back, and those may or may not take time: which is again, dependent on your playing preferences. Either way, the 4PS gets the nod due to its familiarity towards people who have used the DualShock 4 as opposed to utilizing said controller with a new form of grip and control, and in competitive gaming, even the slightest loss of grip can lead to a loss. At two losses already, the Reflex isn’t holding up towards its arch-enemy, and things will not get any easier for the cyborg warrior.

The Reflex’s build is much stronger than than its predecessor. The arms and triggers have a deceptive look to them; flimsy and breakable. However, these arms are much stronger; able to take greater forms of tension. In addition, the overall plastic body has also gotten a boost. Tosses on the coffee table or on the floor were no match for the Reflex, as tanking those hits were a cinch. For the 4PS, it is the same story in terms of its upgrades. However, Scuf Gaming claims these paddles are indestructible. Taking that into consideration, I decided to put the 4PS to the ultimate test; using the front end of a Philips Screwdriver. To my amazement, even after banging the front on the paddles only, the paddles had the same amount of tactile click and worked throughout testing. Other factors are mainly in part towards the DualShock 4.

Every form of build quality you would find on a normal DualShock 4 will be the same for the super charged variation Scuf Gaming provides. I can say with confidence that attempting to bang the Reflex with a Philips Screwdriver will cause some damage. Even though the gaming crowd or competitive players like F0rmal are not going to perform such a test, it is nice to see Scuf go to such lengths to ensure that your controller can survive such abuse. Therefore, mark it three rounds that N-Control’s product has lost. However, it may have found a fortunate change of events.

Those long arms, edge component, and ski attachments catapult the Reflex into a class that is yet matched. As a bonus, those small black screws on the arms can be twisted to change the sensitivity at which the buttons are pressed. However, even though the comfort will take getting used to, notice the position of your fingers. Each finger is connected towards either the arm or the ski (loops otherwise) in some form of way. After studying this myself with the help of a friend, this placement emulates the placement PC players use in the traditional WASD configuration for FPS shooters.

It is something to be commended for; an idea that borrows a concept that adjusts towards the reflexes enjoyed by PC gamers and one of the reasons why N-Control’s idea was so revolutionary back in 2009, and even to today. If this actually works will be explained later on. As for the 4PS, it applies much of what was used when the Scuf PS came out, but there are some new additions. You can adjust the trigger tensions internally via a screwdriver and a special tool, and there is a feature called EMR, or Electromagnetic Remapping. Essentially put, you place this key on the back of the 4PS, select which option or face button you want to map, and it automatically configures towards that option. Even though the paddles themselves are more ergonomically placed, and hey have added additional options, such as options via their website to increase the stick height of the controller, the Reflex goes beyond with how you can place the rubber strips on the skis, and KontrolFreek offers much better variations for your height preferences on the sticks. It is not docking the usage of electro magnetism of the controller. It is a really unique idea and one that is noteworthy in itself, but while it does change how fast you can map those buttons (how well will be explained later), it doesn’t challenge the traditional way of how you hold the controller and revolutionize it the way that the Reflex does. Something that changes a concept is a revolution, and the Reflex does just that. While players such as “Crimsix” may not consider this much of a bonus, other gamers can definitely find a benefit in it. With one round under its belt after three losses, the Reflex can still eek out another victory, but it will not be easy.

Before I get into how each performed, keep in mind that these products offer two distinct traits; reaction time and reflexes. We already went over what the differences are earlier, but now it is time to see how both performed against one another, and the Reflex will start us out. Firing up its preferred genre in FPS games in Advanced Warfare, I saw impressive results. Much like the DEFCON F4, my reaction speeds were faster than without, but with the upgraded sensitivity of the arms and the edge, my KD soared dramatically and was able to gain faster reaction times than I was with the F4. Face-Offs were won roughly 70% thanks in part towards the Reflex, which is an increase of 10% from 60%, and run and gun became more effective without; easily reloading, switching weapons, and jump shooting towards victory in gunfights. Trigger happy people like myself are also in for a rest treat, as those looped rubber strips actually benefit your index or middle fingers in conjunction with the skis, allowing for faster  or those of you new to the Avenger product line, prepare for some learning pains. My aforementioned friend had to play 3 matches before finally getting accustomed towards the overall feel of the device.

Other games such as Shadow of Mordor yielded similar results. Taleion’s moves never felt more fluid with the Reflex, and even inFAMOUS Second Son was more enjoyable with the Reflex than without, as soaring and gliding across the wide open landscape became more graceful with the usage of the Reflex. Against the 4PS, in other genres, the Reflex easily wins. Even when adjusting the trigger tension and paddles via the EMR feature In FPS? A tie. While I do like the usage of EMR and the paddles, it didn’t feel as fast or as fluid like the Reflex. However, those custom analog sticks that Scuf provides can be a difference maker. For those of you who live and die a sniper, the 4PS is your friend. An increased height in the sticks made lining up headshots that much easier, as I went on a tear with the Lynx. Burst-Fire and Semi-Auto users should also feel enlightened as well. From the IMR to the MK14, the heightened sticks will really help out.

Other than though, I did notice my gunfight winning percentage wasn’t has high as I had hoped. I did get a 65% score, up from 50% without, but down 5% frm the Reflex. The issue? Reflexes. The paddles do increase the speed of your reaction times, but not your reflexes. While I did map my paddles towards crouching and switching (I play clawgrip) and noticed better reaction speeds towards an enemy, my reflexes were no up to par, mainly due to the fact that a finger could still be on the controller itself and not being able able to transition accordingly with the paddles quickly enough; something that the Reflex does well. However, even with that said, I did see an improvement due towards accuracy and reaction time; two of three key elements in competitive gaming players need. The Reflex holds down reflexes and reaction speed while missing the mark on accuracy. That being said, it is a tie.

Before we get into the final verdict, price has to be talked about. You get more variations of colors, more additional performance tweaks, and more natural method of playing a game with a few notable differences. However, that does come at a price: $150-200 depending on your route. For someone like NadeShot, this is easy, as Optic Gaming has him covered. For many of you out there however, a steep price. For the Reflex, $70 that nabs you more performance in trade for a learning curve and looks. However you break it, your pockets will feel the burn. However, if I were to pick one, it would be the Relex. Despite its learning curve and lack of options, even though it ties performance wise with the 4PS, N-Control’s product was focused more on how the product functions. That is not to say that Scuf Gaming didn’t have that focus, but they also have to appeal towards an audience who want to represent their respective teams and doing so requires compromise, so the Reflex takes this one.

With that being said, what is B.A.T.G.R.’s final thoughts on the Reflex? At $70, you will get a product that may not have the glamour and require some learning, but if those two criticisms are not factors, this Cyborg enhanced controller add-on will help you increase your reaction speeds and reflexes; ultimately winning you more gunfights or assisting you in other genres. You can find out more about the avenger at their official website: https://www.avengercontroller.com/


Review Score: 9 out of 10


What are your thoughts on the Reflex? Do you own any products from N-Control? What changes would you like to see in the Reflex’s successor? Sound off in the comments below! As always, on behalf of all writers of B.A.T.G.R., thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Devon… Checking Out.

About the Writer:

Devon_Day_BATGRA man growing up between the gaming boundaries on the 5th generation Nintendo 64, but admiring the 3rd gen. Nintendo Entertainment System and 4th generation Sega Genesis for their contributions, Devon Day always has something on his mind regarding video games and the accessories they contain. His first was a microphone for the Nintendo 64 for the “Hey You, Pikachu!” video game, but expanded towards the next line up of gaming peripherals including the Astro A40, MadCatz MLG Pro Circiut Controller, MadCatz STRIKE 7, and many other gaming gadgets. Now loving gaming tech more than ever, he sees this generation crucial to bring the full circle of social connectivity that the 7th. generation of video game consoles started.

Review: Turtle Beach Elite 800 – Goes One Step Forward But Misses The Second Step at the Dance

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Written by Devon Day

Copyrighted by Turtle Beach 2015

Another year, another chance to showcase to the world what you can do. For Turtle Beach, their wireless offerings, sans their PX4, have proven to be effective audio systems, like their licensed Ghosts Phantom headset. However, always improving, Turtle Beach decided to introduce a new type of audio in DTS X: 7.1; an archetype of the newly issued DTS Neo X technology and pin hopes that this new tech. can win over buyers. So far, the 500p seems to be doing that, but as one final push, Turtle Beach threw every type of bell and whistle in the Elite 800; Turtle Beach’s new creme de la creme offering. However, at $300, is this really Turtle Beach’s latest offering? In addition, how does it stack up to the A50 from Astro or H Wireless from SteelSeries? Read on, fellow gamers to unlock the answer.

Turtle Beach made sure this headset is its prized jewel. Magnetic charging stand, durable TOSlink cable, premium appearance and usage of premium memory foam are all present here. That being said, all contents are expected of such a high offering, and it is comforting to see that Turtle Beach nailed the hammer on the head. Of course, its colored look was specifically designed for the PS4, but in practice, these can be used with mobile and other devices without making you look weird. In addition, the headset feels well built, even with plastic usage. However, comparing this to the A50 isn’t a contest. Astro Gaming continues to offer some of the best packaging around, and even though packing isn’t that important anymore, it is nice to see when a company takes pride in their products. That is nor a dock on the 800, but it shows just how different these companies are. For the H wireless comparison, same story. The H is packing some serious flare with its arrangement, and while the color palette on the two is very similar, SteelSeries decided to increase value with magnetic boxes housing each of the components; different from Turtle Beach’s use of thin cardboard one. All in all, it seems that the Elite 800 gets the basics down, but doesn’t stand up quite like it’s rivals.

Now, I always criticized Turtle Beach for not taking any thought into build. However, this was never a problem with their wireless models (sans the Tango in my experiences), and I am happy to report that the Elite 800 continues this tradition in the wireless models. Light tosses on the coffee table and flooring were no match for the Elite 800. Odd considering their is more plastic than other materials, but I’d imagine this plastic is much sturdier this time around. Even so, Astro’s A50 wins out yet again. Metal and plastic infused components will ensure a longevity that will not be less than a year. However, for the H Wireless comparison, both seemed to be equal. Both offer sturdy builds and never caused problems for me in testing, but that is to be expected for something that costs as much as Nintendo’s own Wii U. Again, Turtle Beach swings….. and misses. It tied with the H, but could not strike out the A50. Well, going for 0-1-1, Turtle Beach hasn’t impressed so far, but can it get any worse?

Turtle Beach has had a great history of a semi cloud feeling towards your noggin. From their X12, to their XP500, they have always found a way to hit the mark with the right amount of clamping force and excellent choice of materials in neoprene. However, the 800 ditches this material for protein leather; solid breathing room with great comfort thanks in part to the deep ear pads and generous amount of memory foam. Sadly, that is the good news. Clamping force on these are just not that good, and very disappointing as well. Prepare to feel the pinch, as these headphones are going to let you know that they are there. Well, that being said, I am not going to even compare this to either the H Wireless or the A50. If you haven’t already guessed it, those two beat this one soundly, especially in different ways; the A50 giving clamping force a punch to the face as a non-issue, and the H Wireless beating Turtle Beach at its own game with more deeper ear cups and more generous padding. Turtle Beach’s Elite 800 is not living up to its name…. so far. Things are about to take a turn for the better…. Albeit – slightly.

Charging stand? Check. Numerous Preset options? Check. Bluetooth compatibility? Check. Dual wireless signals for better connection? Check Did I miss anything? Yes. The Elite 800, as stated in the intro, uses a new type of sound called DTS X: 7.1. To not overwhelm anyone, think about it like this. Previous headsets allows you to hear in 5 or 7 different directions. Now, you can hear above the front and hear to the sides in a more wider, broader perspective. This enables a more 3D field of hearing. How it performs will be discussed later. For those yummy comparisons, it seems Astro’s mighty wire free warrior has finally met its match, although I still give it the wireless frequency nod for using Kleernet; essentially turbo charged wireless connectivty for those of you who do not understand. The H Wireless has dual Lithium ion batteries, so expect continued play, even though SteelSeries can thank Triton Technogies for that. Minus that though, neither have a clear cut advantage in terms of features to match what the 800 has, and it is something few other companies can compete directly against. That being said, a win finally goes into the Elite 800 stat column, bringing it to 1-1-1. Can it win a second straight? Well…

… Using DTS X: 7.1 for the first time was a treat. Bass was deep, with excellent decay, definition and clarity, while taking a hit on the separation side. Mids did not disappoint either, as hearing commentators on various sports programs or the exquisite dialogue between Ellie and Joel felt vibrant, but again, controlled so that the voicing isn’t too bright. However, the definition of clarity is a bit off for the 800. Yes, Ellie’s voice did sound natural, but it was a bit too amped in the pitching of her voice. Even so, this still was great for the 800. Highs?…. Well.. Excellent in some aspects but off on others. Even with DTS X: 7.1 used, for me, it depends on which game you are playing. For the Last of Us, gunshots had great depth, cluuarity and definition, but other games like Dynasty Warriors Xtreme Legends falls a bit short. Sword clashes sounded a bit tinny and abrasive for me, and the serperation of sounds heard in the treble region felt like Turtle Beach wanted to artificially enhance the definition of treble, but at the cost of losing some fidelity in the process. It isnt something that is new, because every company has to compromise, but it seems that with issues with the definition and lack of seperation, it seems that the 800 is dependant on the game you are playing rather than the whole sound experience, and that just doesn’t cut it within the price range, and yes, I am aware of the presets available. Sure, they are nice to use, but they only mitigate certain issues and create others. For example, Treble Boost provides more power towards the mids and highs, but bass definition and clarity suffer. Essentially, the presets are preferences, but it can be interpreted in the form of “Pick your Poison,” as there are trade offs to consider, and will only work in a specified area. As in the case for mobile usage, it does well. Taking calls provided little to no issues. Comparisons cannot be made for its competition, so it wins by default. However, for a gaming headset to be great, it should not excel in certain areas, but all of them, much like a game should play to its strengths and add additions for the player. To compare though, I would say that the A50 and Elite 800 are deadlocked. Voicing is the key here, and even though it is nice not to have a mic. next to your cheek, the A50 provided superior clarity, seperation, and defintion, whereas the 800 has the tonal balance down pact. This doesn’t go for the same on the audio side of things however. Tonal balance, definition, and separation are given to the A50, but clarity, impact and sound stage to to the 800, but not by much for either. Tonal balance and sound stage wise against the H Wireless? H Wireless takes it, along with clarity, but defintion and separation go to Turtle Beach. So at the end of the comparisons, it gets a win by default, but again ties with the other two, even though it had a superior sound scape at that. Ultimately, its final records are 2-1-2.

All that said, what are my final thoughts on the Elite 800? Well, Turtle Beach almost had a winner, but a clamping force that is just too obnoxious to ignore, and some oddities within its performance keel it out of of the race. If anything, I think Turtle Beach may have relied a but too much on its DTS X: 7.1 tech. to overcome many of these shortcomings. Even so, the Elite 800 is still a good buy if you are willing to tough it out against some headpains. Otherwise, look for other wireless options, like Astro’s A50 or SteelSeries H. That being said, what are we giving the Elite 800 headset? A well earned 9 out of 10.

What are your thoughts in Turtle Beach products? What are your thoughts on gaming headsets as a whole? What is your favorite one? Sound off in the comments below. As always, on behalf of the entire BATGR Staff, thank you for reading! Until next time, this is Devon Day; Checking Out.


Copyright Notice: The image(s) used are owned and protected by Turtle Beach. We do not own nor claim to have taken the picture(s).


About the Author:

Devon_Day_BATGRA man growing up between the gaming boundaries on the 5th generation Nintendo 64, but admiring the 3rd gen. Nintendo Entertainment System and 4th generation Sega Genesis for their contributions, Devon Day always has something on his mind regarding video games and the accessories they contain. His first was a microphone for the Nintendo 64 for the “Hey You, Pikachu!” video game, but expanded towards the next line up of gaming peripherals including the Astro A40, MadCatz MLG Pro Circiut Controller, MadCatz STRIKE 7, and many other gaming gadgets. Now loving gaming tech more than ever, he sees this generation crucial to bring the full circle of social connectivity that the 7th. generation of video game consoles started.