Crowdfunding Campaign Hopes to Bring Rock Band 4 to PC

Remember when we reviewed Rock Band 4 review and we brought you the bad news that it would only be coming to consoles? Well, it looks like we might have been wrong, as Harmonix are pushing to find a way to bring the plastic instrument madness to PC! While the game didn’t rake in the cash as much as the company had hoped, or their partner MadCatz, who produce the games peripherals, they’re looking to set the record straight wit h a Fig crowd-funding campaign.

In order to bring the game to PC, they’ll need to raise a fairly staggering $1.5 million in the next 35 days, but if all goes well, we could see a release of the game on Steam in Fall 2016.

“With a PC version being released on Steam much of the infrastructure for adding songs to the game can be done via Steam Workshop, with no fees and less overhead. So we’re updating the authoring tools and documentation to help anyone with a song in their heart (and multi-track audio recordings, and some time….) to create playable Rock Band songs. Then, using Steam Workshop, you can submit those files to us—we’ll do a quick check to make sure they play properly and include music you own, and then put them into the game via the Rock Band 4 in-game store. Steam Workshop makes sure you get your cut of the revenues when they sell.” – Said Harmonix

The PC release is expected to have all of the same content we’ve seen released so far for consoles, so that’s certainly a nice perk, but will you be helping fund its development? Hit up the funding page here for more details.

  • World Tour Campaign Mode
  • Freestyle Guitar Solos
  • 65 songs included “out of the box” – and you can get up to 33 additional songs if you back us here on Fig!
  • 1700+ additional playable songs available as downloadable content
  • Supporting wireless guitar controller, drum kit and next generation microphone

Of course, Harmonix know what the PC market likes, so you can expect the PC release to enjoy a few extra features.

  • Tools to author your own songs for play in the PC version of Rock Band 4 – submit them to Rock Band Network via Steam Workshop and share with the rest of the Rock Band 4 PC community!
  • Mouse and computer keyboard support for menu navigation
  • All feature and content updates from the console game.  Rock Band 4 on the PC will have all of the updates released prior to its launch, and will continue to be updated alongside the console versions moving forward.

Rock Band 4 – A New Era of Rhythm Gaming

Plastic instruments around the world have been slowly working their way into people’s garages and lofts for the last couple of years, ever since the great rhythm game boom slowly died off and became stagnant. It was a great time, I owned many of the games and practically had an orchestra’s worth of pretend instruments, which saw hundreds of hours of usage between me and my friends when we were having house parties, or just kicking back with a few beers.

Now it seems those good times of jamming with your friends are back, for what feels like something of a reunion tour and hopefully not the last one. Harmonix is back with Rock Band 4, with new songs, new instruments and given the few years it has been since the last one, a new audience to entice into the rhythm game market.

There’s a notable omission from the game this time around, however, as there is a lack of online multiplayer, which is a big issue for those who live far from their friends. On the plus side, this game is locked and loaded for local co-op gaming, allowing you and your friends to play drums and guitars, as well as sing vocals. Whether or not online multiplayer being missing is a deal breaker for you will vary, but for me, it’s not a feature I would be using. The game is missing a few small features, but all that could change in the near future, as Harmonix has made it no secret that they’re using the base game as a content platform, with new features, songs and who knows what else coming through various updates, with several in the works already.

Setting up the instruments is easy enough, as they’re all intuitive as far as where all the components go and as a bonus, you’ll find batteries included, as all instruments bar the microphone are wireless. The drum controller has been massively updated, although it still keeps the look and shape you’ll be familiar with. It’s more responsive, durable and from what I can tell, a little quieter too! The pads are velocity sensitive, the kick pedal is durable and has a responsive spring that makes it feel natural and as a nice bonus, the included sticks are of a very nice quality; they’ll feel right at home in the hands of anyone who’s played a real drum kit.

The guitar looks stunning, a Stratocaster copy with dual neck buttons. The first five at the top of the neck, the rest above the 12th fret area for some solo and tapping action; if you’re feeling adept enough. I’ve been a Guitar Hero veteran for years and I can still hear the squeaky and clicky strum bar in my nightmares. Those days are gone, the MadCatz guitar is super quiet, and the buttons have a really nice action that’s forgiving for those who don’t hit them dead-center. Put simply, the partnership between Harmonix and MadCatz has paid off really well, as the instruments are the best this sector of the market has ever seen and they’re an absolute joy to use.

Gameplay on Rock Band 4 is right where you would expect it to be, somehow everything is new and tweaked, but at the core, it still feels like the same old game. This is a good thing and a bad thing, those looking for a new dynamic will like the new improvisation sections, but at the end of it all, it’s the same core game we came to know and love in the past. The song selection is quite diverse, offering everything from System of a Down to Uptown Funk (like we’ve not had enough of that one already), but there’s enough in there for the music lovers and the karaoke addicts to blunder their way through and keep people entertained. Of course, there’s also a huge library of legacy songs, as well as DLC tracks that are already coming thick and fast, so there’s going to be no shortage to stuff to play anytime soon.

View the complete song list here and view the complete list of legacy song here

The main “quest” if you will is entertaining enough to warrant a play through, but doesn’t span the difficulty levels as well as previous games in the series. On the plus side, you can swap instruments and even difficulty levels mid-song, meaning you’re less inclined to quit the song when things go wrong. The higher difficulties are a hell of a challenge and a lot of fun, but those wanting something more authentic can invest in the Pro Cymbal kit which launches later this year, as this will unlock Pro mode for the drums.

What this game really lacks though it big hitting tracks, sure there are a few great bands, but they’re not usually the “hits” of their respective albums. This is likely due to most of the best songs being done already with previous entries in the series, but it’s still no excuse. The DLC and more so the legacy library does patch that up nicely, but there’s still no excuses for having two U2 songs here by any measure.

Overall, great fun, incredible new instruments and a good selection of fun to play tracks to get you started. It doesn’t feel as fresh as I was hoping, but with more songs on the way, the drum cymbal add-on now available for pre-order and the promise of plenty of updates to the core game, this is still the best entry in the Rock Band franchise to date and it’s going to be a big contender this holiday season. If you’re looking to get back into rhythm gaming, you’ll not find anything better.

Rock Band 4 – Band in a Box comes with the guitar, microphone, drums and the game for $249.99, while the Triple Cymbal Expansion Kit will set you back an additional $49.99. The standalone game with the guitar is just $129.99. In the UK, the Band in a Box is £219.99, the Guitar and game is £109.99 and the drum cymbals are £39.99.

Pros

  • Exceptional quality instruments
  • All songs available to play without completing main quest
  • Drop in – drop out gameplay
  • Good range of musical styles available
  • Huge DLC library
  • Expandable drum kit
  • Virtually silent guitar

Cons

  • No online multiplay

Neutral

  • Drums expansion kit not available at launch
  • DLC prices can quickly add up to a small fortune, but with licencing rights, this is understandable
  • Not as many big hits in the base game as previous entries in the series

“Rock Band 4 is the best entry in the series so far, with the best instruments ever to bless rhythm gaming and a huge library of songs available to choose from. If you’re looking for the ultimate party game, this is it!”

 

 

MadCatz R.A.T. TE (Tournament Edition) Gaming Mouse Review

Introduction


MadCatz have been making gaming peripherals for many years now, and while the company used to have a bit of a reputation for cheaper third-party console peripherals, that is now a distant history for the company. MadCatz now make some of the hottest gaming accessories on the market and the R.A.T. gaming mice series is a prime example of what the company is capable of.

Today we’ll be taking a look at the MadCatz R.A.T. Tournament Edition (TE), which has been designed with competitive gaming in mind. With the ever-growing popularity of eSports, pro gaming, competitive gaming, online gaming or what ever you want to call it, there is a growing demand for premium grade peripherals that can help people win games.

“The R.A.T. TE has been designed to appeal to the e-sports professional. With a newly developed Phillips Doppler-laser sensor, the R.A.T. TE provides reference quality tracking with speeds up to 8200 DPI.”

The R.A.T. TE features some very promising specifications, such as the 8200 Phillips sensor, low lift-off height and 9 programmable buttons.

Specifications 

  • DPI Levels: 4
  • DPI Range: 100 – 8200 (in 25 DPI increments)
  • Acceleration: 50G
  • Polling Rate: Dynamic up to 1000Hz
  • Tracking Speed: Up to 6m/sec (240ips)
  • Lift-off Height: 0.2mm – 1mm
  • Programmable Controls: 9
  • Profile Modes: 3
  • Weight: 90g (without cable)
  • Always On: Yes
  • “Slick” PTFE Feet: Yes
  • Gold-plated Connector: Yes
  • L.E.D. Colours for each Mode: Red, Blue, Purple

Features

  • 8200 DPI Laser Doppler Sensor – High-speed motion detection and 4 customizable DPI settings
  • Adjustable Lift-Off Height – Avoids issues with tracking on the Z-axis
  • Oversized Precision Aim Button – Enables on-the-fly cursor sensitivity adjustment
  • Intuitive Drag-and-Drop Software – 27 user-definable commands via 9 programmable buttons over 3 modes
  • Quick & Lightweight – Weighs only 90 grams excluding the cable
  • Reliable & Long-Lasting – L and R mouse buttons, those used the most in gaming, have OMRON switches rated at 5,000,000 cycles

The packaging is really nicely designed and there is a clear image of the mouse on the front of the box, as well as the technical specifications on the right side.

Around the back you’ll find a quick run down of some of the major features; like the programmable buttons and the precision aim mode.

The mouse is fitted snug inside a protective mould, while the interior of the box lid is padded with foam.

In the box you’ll find a hard-wired mouse and a quick start guide.

Tritton Kama PlayStation 4 / Vita Gaming Headset Review

Introduction


Time after time I have been blown away by the high quality headsets that come from the Mad Catz camp. They’ve got several great ranges to their name such as Tritton, Cyborg and their own branded stuff, but no matter which I’ve tested, I’ve always come away smiling. Their headsets range from the spectacular 7.1 Warhead, which will set you back around £250! To the award-winning mid-ranges such as the 720+ for a little over £100, all the way down to the model we’ll be taking a look at today, the Tritton Kama.

The Kama is the budget end of the Tritton range and it’s a tempting bargain at a mere £20. A lot of retailers sell it closer to £30, but you don’t have to be a genius to know how to use Google Shopping search and grab yourself a better deal. What I want to find out today is just how much of the high quality and performance that we’ve come to know and love from the brand has been lost (if any) from the focus on affordability. Based around their popular Kunai series of headsets the Kama should have a strong head start, especially given we’ve reviewed no less than three different models of the Kunai and all of them have been award winners.

At the budget end of the range we’re not expecting record-breaking performance from the Kama, but Mad Catz have surprised us before with their budget friendly models and it certainly would be nice to see something similar happen today. As you can see from the specifications below we have a decent length cable, 40mm drivers and a standard 3.5mm connector (4-pole). So let’s get right to it and take a closer look at what else the Kama have to offer.

  • Cable Length: 3.3ft/1m
  • Speaker Diameter: 40mm
  • Ear Coupling: Supra-aural (On-ear)
  • Magnet Type: Neodymium
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz–20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): <1%
  • Resistance: 16 ohms
  • Audio Input Type: 3.5mm Connector

The packaging features a nice clear image of the headset on the front, detailing the support for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.

Around the back we have a few details about the specifications (see above) as well as some information about the in-line controller, but of course we’ll be taking a closer look at that in a moment.

The only thing you’ll find in the box is the headset, which comes hard-wired. Obviously you don’t need anything else and extras will no doubt have been avoided to keep costs down.

EA Reveal Huge Range Of Titalfall Merchandise Ahead Of Launch Date

With Titanfall just weeks away from release on the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and of course PC, it couldn’t be a better time to reveal that there will be a huge range of merchandise released alongside the game, and we wouldn’t have expected anything less given that it is a game created by people who worked on Call of Duty titles and of course Electronic Arts are in charge, two teams that are well known to cash in as much as possible on each franchise.

Titanfall is one of this years most hotly anticipated titles, with already 80 awards from around the world to its name without even having been released yet, it will be the first original shooter that hits ones of the new generation of consoles. The prospect of frantic FPS action and having heavily-armoured 24ft Titans at your disposal is a tempting proposal, and we really can’t wait to see how this game plays.

A wide range of licensed merchandise will be available including the Titanfall standard and collector’s edition strategy guides from Prima Games, premium gaming peripherals from Turtle Beach and MadCatz, apparel from Jinx! and Level Up Wear and Titan constructions sets from K’NEX. The full line of Titanfall licensed products consists of:

  • Turtle Beach Xbox One Headset
  • MadCatz PC gaming peripherals including Keyboard, Xbox 360 headset, PC/MAC/Smart Device Headset, Mouse and Mouse Pad
  • Prima Standard and Collector’s Edition Strategy Guides
  • Titan Publishing Art Book
  • JINX! Apparel & Accessories
  • Level Up Wear Apparel and Accessories
  • Posters by Trends and GB Eye
  • EP Memory USB Drives and Cases
  • K’NEX Construction Sets

Titanfall will be available for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC on March 11, 2014 in North America, and beginning March 13, 2014 in Europe.

Thank you Titanfall for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Titanfall.

Mad Catz, EA & Respawn Join Forces To Create Range Of “Titanfall” Peripherals

Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. have announced that it has joined forces with Electronic Arts to create a new range of Titanfall branded gaming products in time for the the games release later this year.

Expected to be in stores for the launch of Titanfall, the Titanfall branded product range includes TRITTON gaming headsets, R.A.T. mice, S.T.R.I.K.E. keyboards, F.R.E.Q. gaming headsets and G.L.I.D.E. gaming surfaces. All of which has walked away with a multitude of awards from us here at eTeknix, as well many other awards around the world.

“Titanfall has earned critical acclaim and won numerous awards, including Best of Show, Best Original Game, and Best Online Multiplayer at this year’s E3 conference. Mad Catz is excited to bring a range of cutting-edge, innovative, Titanfall-branded products to gamers in connection with one of the most anticipated game launches in recent history,” said Darren Richardson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. “The Titanfall license builds on Mad Catz’ strategy to align our product portfolio with AAA content that appeals to passionate gamers.”

Unfortunately, MadCatz are being super sneaky, not releasing any images of the new designs or perhaps maybe even new features on these products. I’m sure details will come soon enough, but for now we can at least have a refresh of what the current product range looks like.

Stay tuned for more information as we approach the release of Titanfall.

Thank you MadCatz for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of MadCatz.

Five Of The Best PC Headsets Available For Under £100 ($150)

When it comes to picking the right peripherals for your system, it is safe to say that you are going to be spoilt for choice and regardless of your budget it will be hard to narrow down your choices for each component. While the keyboard and mouse options out there may be seemingly limitless, so too are the choices for audio equipment.

Today we are taking a quick look at five of the best headsets on the market for £100 or less (for our American friends that’s approx $150 at time of writing), hopefully offering something to suit many different budgets and while we do know of a few great headsets well above £100, even well above £200! They’re not often the play thing of your average consumer or gamer.

Budget is important, but so is performance and while I can’t admit to having tried every PC headset on the market, I have certainly seen more than a fair share of them. All the headsets I list in this article are ones that I have personally owned, tested and have written full reviews of here on eTeknix, so full review links will be provided. I’m not going to tell you these are the five best headsets on the market, these are my personal choices, if you think you know of a better headset for the same price range, by all means post it as a comment below and help others by sharing your advice in a constructive manner.

Were going to be looking specifically at PC headsets today and it doesn’t matter if you just want to game, watch movies in peace or Skype call your friends, I’m sure we have something here that will suit you. All prices were taken as approximate from Google Shopping and were correct at time of writing.

Gamescom 2013 Gallery


This week we have been hard at work touring the booths of Gamescom 2013 and we hope to show you some of the sights and latest products from this years record breaking event. The now sold out event will host entertainment and madness for 330,000 people a day, with seemingly endless gargantuan halls that are filled to the brim with the latest games, technology and certainly a few surprises such as a beach, complete with deck chairs, cos-play, dry snowboarding, rock climbing and of course… next-gen gaming hardware.

Keep your eyes peeled on this page as we update you with photos of our coverage from the event between our regular articles.

This page will be split into pages for each manufacturer/booth/area that we cover, and at the bottom of the page will be a handy navigation bar so that you can check out pictures of exactly what you want to see.

MMO Gaming Mouse Roundup

Over the last few weeks I’ve been lucky enough to use many of the best gaming mice on the market, putting them through their paces in many of today’s leading MMO games, trying to find out which offers the best performance, value for money and feature sets, in the hope that I can guide you to making a better purchase.

Like knights of the round table I am surrounded by awesome examples of what a gaming mouse can be, as you can see in the image above I have a fair few to choose from and those of you who keep a close eye on our reviews will realise that we’ve reviewed every single on of these mice in the past, some of the quite recently too. All of these products have proved themselves to be award winning, premium products that are worth your cash, but that doesn’t help you decide which one is best for you or your game.

In the collection today I have:

  • Steelseries World of Warcraft Wireless MMO
  • Steelseries World of Warcraft Legendary Edition
  • Corsair Vengeance M95 MMO
  • Mad Catz M.M.0.7
  • Razer Naga Molten
  • Razer Naga Hex
  • TteSports Black Element

A fine selection indeed, a solid mixture of low, mid and high-end solutions with the appropriate budgets to match, in a wide range of style choices, button configurations and specifications, so lets not hang around and we’ll get stuck into the good stuff.

Full details of each mouse and more extensive testing can be found in their full reviews, links provided at the bottom of each page that will open a new tab.

MadCatz M.O.U.S.9 Bluetooth Mouse Review

Today we’ll be taking a look at the latest mouse from Mad Catz, the Bluetooth enabled M.O.U.S.9 that is set to take the highly respected world of Mad Catz peripherals into the world of wireless tech.

Mad Catz are well regarded for making some of the finest gaming mice on the market, especially with their MMO and RAT ranges, and while they may not be to every ones taste in terms of design there is no doubt in my mind that they are unique, cool and pack some serious performance, but one does not normally associate such things with Bluetooth and a wireless mouse, so where does the MOUS9 fit into all this?

There has always been demand for wireless technology when it comes to PC’s and keyboards and mice are no different, but there is rarely anything exciting about them as gamers tend to shy away from wireless technology due to risk of input lag, so manufacturers generally don’t invest into much research on the tech and just put out (for the most part) fairly boring wireless peripherals, just look at the world of wireless keyboards to see what I mean.

Mad Catz have taken the unique styling of their gaming mice and no doubt some of the technology behind them too and fitted it our with Bluetooth technology, although before we get too ahead of ourselves, this isn’t designed to be a hardcore gaming mouse, the specs below tell us that much and I’m going to be looking for robust all round performance, not eSports grade accuracy, can’t judge something for not being something it wasn’t made to be.

  • DPI: 990
  • Acceleration: Up to 8g
  • Polling Rate: 125 Hz
  • Tracking Speed: Up to 0.8m/sec
  • Programmable Buttons: 10
  • Connectivity: USB Nano Dongle
  • Wireless Range: Up to 330ft / 10m
  • Power: 1x AA Battery (included)

The Mous9 comes in a compact perspex box that gives us a great view of the mouse its self but it’s also  very compact and presentable. As you can see on the front it tells us the mouse is both Mac and PC compatible via it’s Bluetooth Smart technology, it’s worth pointing out that there are no wired options for this mouse.

The box breaks open and you can see the mouse is secured on the case with a pull tab and clip, behind that we have a blue box that houses a few extra items.

Ok a few was an understatement and this little box hides several leaflets, instruction manuals, warrant information, some cool stickers, a cool little carry pouch and a battery, more than I expect and certainly everything you need to get you started.

Starting on the left side we see the Mous9 keeps many of the RAT / MMO mouse traits that Mad Catz are known for. the back palm rest can be extended out to provide a better fit for your hand, behind that we have a soft rubber coated horizontal scroll wheel and below that you have your standard back / forward switches and finally a button that drops your DPI to a configurable setting when held, a nice feature for FPS gaming or tricky Photoshop work.

Toward the front of the mouse we see that Mad Catz have fitted the mouse with what looks like the diffuser off the front of a race car, which looks very cool in my opinion. The main controls are made up of the left and right mouse buttons, a toggle switch in the middle and a really nice feeling, rubber coated and notched scroll wheel, there is also an extra button on the left wing, but we’ll see that better in a moment.

At the rear of the mouse there is a cylinder shaped chamber that houses the battery, this can be accessed via the round cap at the rear of the mouse and while it is out of the way when using the mouse, changing the battery feels awful, the cover is made from really cheap feeling plastic and I fear that cover may be susceptible to damage if you’re not careful with it.

A wing sticks out to the left of the LMB and this provides you with a third mouse button that is easily accessed yet still out of the way enough to prevent accidental clicks, the right side of the mouse features an ergonomic panel that gives you a good gripping point and while this does provide a good resting position for your hand, it also allows for easy lifting of the mouse as you can really get a hold of it thanks to its unique shape.

The bolted on panel look of the Mous9 looks fantastic and it’s one of the trademarks of Mad Catz mice and you can literally see through the mouse panel gaps in certain places.

The logo on the back adds some nice style and there are a soft touch and slightly gripped feel the mouse panels that help you keep a firm and comfortable hold on it.

The underside looks pretty awesome too and is divided up by 6 small Teflon slip mats, a metal chassis, the laser sensor, a power on/off switch and a nicely hidden USB dongle.

A perfect sneaky storage place for the Bluetooth dongle that uses a push/click push/pop mechanism to keep it safely in place.

Setup & installation

Setup was plug and play, but the real good stuff requires you to download two small files from the Mad Catz website, the Mous9 driver and the Mous9 software, having both of these installed allows you to fully customise the mouse settings and configurations.

A simple drag and drop system allows you to tailor each button to your liking, it couldn’t be much easier to set up the basic functions but you can also create custom buttons should you need them.

The battery life indication is at an enthusiastic 1 year! I don’t really have time to test this of course, that would be crazy but since the mouse only features a single LED indication and it’s not especially high in terms of performance, I have to assume it’s not wasting much power.

On this page you can adjust how much the sniper button slows the mouse when the button is held, as well as configure what button the horizontal scroll wheel controls, but surprisingly you cannot change DPI and this is locked at 990DPI, there is however a shortcut that takes you to Windows Mouse Control Panel to change the pointer speed and for more people, that is more than enough configuration.

Performance

The first issue with wireless tech is input lag and after a few tests I found the Mous9 has 20ms lag compared to a wired solution, with the Roccat Kone XTD scoring 254.2 average.

I performed a prediction test and couldn’t find any issues here, but the same could no be said about acceleration. Regardless of pointer speed settings I found quite considerable acceleration when turning in any FPS, things are ok at slow movement speeds, but if you make any sudden jolts in direction you may over shoot your turning, unless of course you like acceleration. This is typically something that will bother enthusiast FPS players more than it would an MMO player. Liftoff height wasn’t adjustable either but it’s set at a tidy area that appears to be just over 1mm and that’s pretty good in my opinion.

The mouse may not be equipped like the MMO7 or RAT7 to take on gaming at an enthusiast level, but it’s still an absolute joy to use none the less and it’s perfectly competent for playing League of Legends, The Witcher II and Battlefield 3 (my personal gaming choices for the week) and I can’t say it’s let me down, because it just hasn’t. The sniper button is nice, but I did miss the lack of DPI settings in Battlefield 3.

The real joy for this mouse is in day-to-day tasks, from browsing the web, doing work in Photoshop and other applications where the ergonomics of the mouse really make for a pleasurable experience. I often find my desk can become very busy very quickly when reviewing and having a wireless mouse that never lost signal once, not even at a range of 21ft, became a nice advantage as I often use my PC via a 15m HDMI cable so I can throw things up on the big screen.

Final Thoughts

It’s not the best mouse I’ve ever used, not by a long shot as I still personally prefer a wired solution over wireless and that’s fine, because that is my personal taste and it’s what works best for my system and my personal requirements, but that will not be true for everyone.

There is a large part of the market that isn’t bothered about eSports, or about high DPI mouse settings, in fact some people will never want to care about DPI settings, polling rates, or anything technical, they just want a brand they like, offering the features they understand and they want the build quality to be the best they can afford, something Mad Catz are clearly aware of.

This mouse could have been so much more but then we run into technical limitations of Bluetooth and batteries, sure you can have higher DPI but that would put the price of the sensor up, make transmitting the data quick enough more difficult, use more battery and you still wouldn’t address the issue with extra lag, so for this mouse 990 DPI is somewhat of a sweet spot between performance and power usage and for a large portion of the market this isn’t nothing to be ashamed off because the mouse feels snappy and precise, more so that any other wireless mouse I’ve used.

The build quality is 2nd to none and Mad Catz have used a mixture of high quality plastics and metals for the chassis and casing, plus the unique style that the Mad Catz brand has become known for not only looks great, but it also offers some very nice ergonomics and customisation options that make it very easy to use.

Little features such as the extending palm rest, the snug little hide for the USB dongle, plug and play compatibility, easy to use software with a drag and drop interface, a handy carry pouch are just some of the features I love about this mouse and while it’s gaming performance isn’t incredible it’s certainly better than most and it’s nothing to worry about when you consider that this mouse is a solid performer in day-to-day tasks too, as some extreme mice can be a nightmare to live with outside of a gaming environment, that simply isn’t the case here.

I still feel it’s worthy of our editors choice award, I would happily buy one of these today had I the need for a wireless mouse, it really is a joy to work with. Yet I must admit that Mad Catz need to improve the battery compartment cover in a future revision as for this price range there should be nothing that feels “cheap” about the build.

 

 

Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q.7 Headset Review

Mad Catz, Tritton, Saitek and Cyborg, you may know some of or all of these brand name, but one thing you may not know is that they’re all divisions of the same company. Mad Catz have been making quite a name for them selves recently and while they do have a strong history and some great products that span many years and several gaming generations, its their latest brands and products that have been taking the gaming world by storm.

Over the last year we’ve seen a few entries to the F.R.E.Q headset range, first up we had the F.R.E.Q.5 headset, the F.R.E.Q.5 Red and now the F.R.E.Q.7 which have come under the various brands such as Saitek, but are all fundamentally Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. Headsets. the F.R.E.Q.5 has long been my number 1 personal headset of choice, ever since I wrote the original review for the product it literally hasn’t gone a day without being used for my daily gaming, music and skype activities.

I was ecstatic to find out I would have the opportunity to review this headset, and there was only one question in my mind when I saw it “do I finally have a contender that could temp me away from the F.R.E.Q.5?” Well that is what I hope to find out today, but given the performance of the previous model, the F.R.E.Q.7 certainly has its work cut out.

Mad Catz have a very clear cut product naming strategy, one that is well demonstrated by their R.A.T. mouse range, the R.A.T3, R.A.T.5, .RA.T.7 and R.A.T9 rank in order of low to high in terms of features, performance and price. Starting with the 3, the most budget friendly and the 9 being the most feature-laden premium product. The same principle is applied to the F.R.E.Q.7 and while it looks almost exactly like the previous model it does have some upgraded hardware which we’ll be taking a closer look at in just a moment.

Even the packaging for the new headset bares a striking resemblance to the previous model, very little is different here, the only tell tale signs that we have a new product are the Dolby Digital Pro Logic II badge on the box and of course the new product name.

around the back of the box we have a quick run down of the major features of the set, the most notable being 7.1 surround sound and 50mm drivers. You can also see here the detachable microphone and a photograph of a headset stand that is now included with the device.

In the box I found a well written instruction booklet, detachable microphone, 3.5mm to USB braided cable, USB to USB braided cable and of course the headset its self.

The microphone feels very well made and features a highly adjustable boom, red LED mute indicator, and as you can see it’s also fully detachable from the headset.

The new headset features near identical construction to the F.R.E.Q.5 and this is no bad thing, the mixture of high quality metal and plastics still makes this one of the best made headsets on the market.

Each ear cup is finish a mixture of plastics, the softer looking main body and the glossy black which features the Mad Catz graphic. Here you can also see a small plastic circle on the ear cup, this is a removable cap to protect the microphone socket, Mad Catz have nicely included a little notch on the headset stand which will hold the plastic peg when you don’t require it.

The left ear cup features the Dolby and Microphone buttons, while the right holds a high quality, metal construction volume toggle wheel.

Exposed wire from the headband to the drivers has been lovingly covered with a black and red braiding that will help protect the cable, but also adds an extra styling touch.

Soft leather padding should provide extra comfort during long gaming sessions,and a hollow rubber strip on the headband is extra soft to touch, but still feel supportive when on your head. The headset is fully adjustable and features high quality sliders that shouldn’t wear out over time. The addition of having rotatable ear cups allow you to wear the headset around your neck, handy for when you need to take a few moments rest between games.

The plastic moulded base may not look much but its a perfect way of keeping your headset stored on your desk and a welcome addition to the bundle.

As you can see, the headset clips onto the base nicely, serving as much as a presentation display as it does a storage device. Here you can also see the detachable boom microphone.

Setup & Installation

For use on the PC Setup was as easy as plug-and-play as windows found the basic drivers with ease for the USB connection. Of course this can be even easier if you only wish to use the 3.5mm jack plug, which is even compatible with smartphones to allow for use as a mobile headset, MP3 players or just about any 3.5mm equipped audio device.

The official software can be download from the Mad Catz website and this allows you to control volume, EQ and dolby on/off settings. Dolby mode only works via the USB cable and is not a feature you can use via the 3.5mm jack plug on something like an MP3 player.

Music

When I reviewed the F.R.E.Q.5 I put the headset through its paces with a whole range of music and was amazed by the quality and also the performance of the various EQ settings. Judging from the specification on the box the F.R.E.Q.7 features identical drivers but after just a few songs I am certain they have made some tweaks and changes to the performance. Bass, mid tones and high frequencies are clearer than ever and I’ll be damned if I can think of a headset that sounds this good at playing back my music, excluding maybe a few pro audio focused sets that cost several hundred pounds more.

Movies

Movies was much the same as music, simply jaw dropping clarity for stereo drivers and the Dolby mode does an impressive job of giving you a wide audio field, bringing the sound away from your ears and filling the virtual room. I tend to find that virtual Dolby tech can be a little disappointing and that it tends to hollow out the sound, yet it looses none of its punch here.

Gaming

Gaming is the real winner for the F.R.E.Q.7 as this is fundamentally what it was designed to do and its definitely where it shines through the most. The high quality microphone is perfect for online gaming, the powerful drivers manage to keep the low rumbles of bass in Battlefield 3 free of distortion and the wind in Skyrim can be heard roaring behind you with the Dolby mode enabled.

General Performance

I use my personal F.R.E.Q.5 every day and I decided to put the F.R.E.Q.7 through all my daily tasks, long Skype calls, listening to music, gaming, wasting time on YouTube and most importantly to me playing my guitar, which I have loopped through my PC. I have to wear a headset for about 6 hours a day and its important that its comfortable and performs to an enjoyable standard on a daily basis and The F.R.E.Q.7 didn’t fail me once.

 

I think its pretty obvious at this point that I really like the F.R.E.Q.7, and I fear I may have come across somewhat smitten with the headset yet even though that may be the case, its for good reason.

The quality of the materials used in their construction and the overall build quality here is second to none, the overall finish is of a premium, high quality and highly durable product, add the general attention to detail that has gone into their design and overall style, which I admit may not be to everyone liking, but that much is true of any product and your already an long way to justifying the three digit price tag that goes with them.

While build quality and style alone can be enough to tempt some people to make the purchase, the thing that really matters to me is the audio performance and best in class sound quality is something that the F.R.E.Q.7 seems to do with ease, its virtually faultless in its execution of even the most demanding audio selections right across their full volume range and that is a rare thing in any headset. Not that you would want to take these to max volume of course as the drivers are likely to blow your ear drums before long.

Priced at around £130 / $200 US the F.R.E.Q.7 is far from cheap, but you do get a lot for your money in terms of quality and performance, so much so that I would still say the headset is excellent value for money. If you want to be amazed I can’t recommend the F.R.E.Q.5 headset enough, it’s about 30% cheaper, looks near identical and out performs just about anything on the market today, but if you want to be blown away then you need to be saving up for this model, plus you get a free plastic stand to display them on, and every extra feature counts when your spending over a £100.

I’ve already upgraded my headset to a F.R.E.Q.7, and that makes this a true editors choice product, the question for me now is, will it ever be topped, maybe Mad Catz will make a F.R.E.Q.9 and change the rule book once again, but only time will tell.