The headset market is oversaturated with options, but Plantronics may have found an unexploited niche: multitasking gamers.
To reach that demographic of video game players who can juggle multiple activities at once, Plantronics has introduced the RIG headset, an accessory intended for those who want a little more out of their gaming head gear. The RIG offers typical headset features, like a stereo sound and a boom microphone, but it also includes a mixer that allows players to blend game, chat and phone calls.
The headset comes with the standard cables and mixer that allow for a balance of game and chat, so you can talk with your game-playing buddies online. But it adds one more cable that connects the mixer to a smartphone, so players can switch from a game to a phone call without hitting pause. Or mix the game and the call with a balance slider, so you can talk to your mother on the phone while staying alert for enemies in the game.
The mixer includes three equalizer profiles, including a "seismic" mode that builds up the bass. Plantronics also padded the ear cushions and headbands to make the headset more comfortable during marathon gaming sessions.
But the multifunctional RIG wasn't created to be tied to a console. The headset's removable boom mike is interchangeable with a cable that can be plugged into other devices, allowing on-the-go use. The cable includes an inline remote control and microphone for smartphones.
The RIG headset, which costs $130, is part of planned larger line of gaming accessories from Plantronics. It is compatible with PCs, smartphones, tablets and Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii consoles and will be available at retailers this fall.
Over all, the RIG is a versatile headset that offers great sound and comfort. I was impressed by the ease with which I could switch over to an incoming call. But I still found the call distracting. I guess I need to work on my multitasking skills.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.