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SteelSeries Freedom to Play FLUX Headset and FREE Mobile Controller Review

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SteelSeries Freedom to Play!

SteelSeries recently released a new line of products with the launch of their Freedom to Play mobile gaming peripherals. I had the chance to get my hands on two of their first items, the FLUX mobile gaming headset, and the SteelSeries FREE Mobile Controller and try them out for a test run.

FLUX Mobile Gaming Headset

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Practicality

Made of the same robust material that goes into most SteelSeries headsets, the arch can stretch almost flat without any sign of breaking or warping. In addition, SteelSeries has included a hinge on each side, allowing the earpieces to fold in to maximize portability.

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Rather than a fixed cord, the FLUX has a port on each side, allowing the cable to be plugged in or removed at will. This allows the user to decide which side of the head will have the cord, and comes with the unintended benefit of having the plug ripped out if the user catches the cord on anything, instead of having the whole headset jerked down. The FLUX also comes with two separate cords, one with a single plug for a mobile device, and the other with a split mic/headset plug for a PC. Again, SteelSeries was clearly thinking of the user with the design.

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Additionally, since the headset has two plugs, you can actually chain them, allowing a friend to plug into the second plug and listen to the same music.

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Comfort

With mobility in mind, SteelSeries designed the headset to be light and portable, and they’ve succeeded. While their Siberias retain the honor of being the most comfortable headset (mostly due to the strap that rests on top of the head), the FLUX are a close second. One of SteelSeries smallest headsets, they are also one of the lightest, and the pressure they exert on the side of the head is actually less than any other SS headset I’ve worn. SteelSeries intended this to be a headset that could be used for hours on end, and they've succeeded.

Quality

After playing games (both FPS and RTS), listening to Opera, Dubstep and K-Pop (don’t judge me), and watching videos with these headsets, I would rate them just shy of first tier headsets. The SteelSeries 7h remain as SteelSeries’ headset highest quality sound, and the FLUX comes just shy of matching them ending up on the same level as the Siberia v2. What surprised me the most about the FLUX was how much ambient sound was blocked when listening to music or playing games. With such small earpieces (not coming close to fully covering my ears) I was expecting lots of sound to bleed through. I was impressed to find that the material they used for the FLUX earpieces blocked sound better than the Siberias, despite the smaller size.

My only gripe with the FLUX comes from the microphone. Both cables have a microphone embedded a third of the way down the cord from the headset, for speaking over a VOIP (on PC) or taking a phone call (on mobile; also includes a button for ‘call mute’ or pause/play/skip track). In tests, the mic on the mobile cord allowed my voice to be both loud and clear, but like most mono-directional SteelSeries mics if it was rotated away from my body there was difficulty with sound pickup. The PC mic, on the other hand, gave me trouble. Even when pointed directly at my face, the sound pickup was low unless I held it right next to my mouth, not a position conducive to fast-pace gameplay.

Conclusion

With the launch of Freedom to Play, SteelSeries has set out to build and grow mobile gaming as its own gaming genre and they’ve set the standards for steps in that direction. The FLUX might not match the Siberia v2 or the 7h for gaming on a PC, but for listening to music, gaming on a mobile device, or talking on the phone (you know, everything you do on mobile), the FLUX is at the front of enjoying mobile entertainment. Anyone who spends time using a mobile device should have a pair of FLUX.

SteelSeries FREE Mobile Wireless Controller

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I will admit that I was inordinately excited when I first heard about this device. A controller is what defines console gaming, and the opportunity to use one on a mobile device struck me as brilliant. Suddenly I could turn my Samsung Nexus into a console and monitor together, and I could use it anywhere! I jumped at the chance to test and review one, and I was not disappointed.

Practicality

Ease of use was clearly a primary consideration during the design process. After a short battery charging period, I synced it with my phone and it was ready to use, instantly allowing me to navigate my phone menu and access apps. After a quick download of three or four controller-compatible games, I was off and playing!

With eight buttons, two joysticks and a d-pad, the controller had plenty of controls for any game I played, and the action was seamless. No lag or hesitancy, no awkward screen tapping or virtual controls. It was just like playing console titles, only on a smaller scale.

Comfort

Designed to be mobile, the controller is very miniature. This might be an issue for users with larger hands who might not find it comfortable to use this for long periods of time. I personally thought it was a perfect size, and found it reminiscent of playing games on my Gameboy Mini, only with more complexity available.

The only issue I had with the controller was the joysticks, which felt a little too short for me. Obviously this was intentional in order to make it easy to transport, but with such short leverage around the axis of each joystick it made them a little more difficult to move, a little less smooth.

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Conclusion

The SteelSeries FREE Mobile Wireless Controller is a unique and inspired addition to the field of mobile gaming. Working in tandem with a mobile device (which everyone has on them always) and being so small and portable, this is far more natural to incorporate into mobile gaming and killing time than a full-fledged gaming system. In addition, the massive amount of games that are generated for mobile devices means this controller’s use will continue long into the future. The saddest part of something this awesome is that there aren’t yet mobile games that do justice to this controller!

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Both of those seem really great.

I might actually have to check out the headset. I really love that it has two ports and that it's travel ready. I've been needing a new one for my jams, too.

The controller seems awesome, I just can't see myself actually using it. I imagine people getting use out of it when they travel but 80% of the time when I travel, I sleep. Haha.

Great review!

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