Review: Plantronics .Audio 480

I’ve always wanted earbuds with a boom mic. I’ve wished for years that they make one. Finally, Plantronics got around to it with the Plantronics .Audio 480.

I saw the package at BestBuy, and didn’t hesitate to pick it up. When I opened the package, however, I got a nice little surprise. The buds have two plugs at the end (mic and headphones), as expected. But, the nice thing is, it also came with a USB adapter. No more too-short cords… Just get a USB hub however close you might need, and you’re all set.

Also included are a stylish leather(ish?) case with magnetic clasp, a few different size support tabs, and additional sizes and styles for the buds themselves.

Because these are earbuds, there’s no discomfort while wearing glasses or a hat. If you’ve worn either for extended periods of time while wearing over-the-head headphones, you know what I mean. The left earbud is the one with the boom mic attached, so it weighs a tiny bit more, but it’s still extremely light.

Audio quality is excellent using the USB adapter or not. With XP Pro SP2, there were no drivers to install, it just worked moments after I plugged it in. I recently wore them at a LAN party, off and on for about 12 hours, with only mild discomfort at the event, and no problems the following day.




Plantronics GameCom X30 and XBox 360 Messenger Kit Review

Last week, I was in the middle of some Team Fortress 2 when everyone started yelling at me that my mic was producing nothing but static. It would seem that the frail little wire that connected it to the controller must have shorted out. It was time to get a new headset.

First I went and got the Plantronics GameCom X30. I love Plantronics headset quality, so I figured it would be perfect. It probably would have been, except that this headset grabs onto your ear from the bottom. Now, I don’t have ears like Will Smith, so it kept falling off. If I turned or tilted my head at all, it would end up half-hanging out of my ear.

I took it back to BestBuy, and figured I’d just get another one of the standard Microsoft headsets. When I got there, the price for the headset alone was $19, but the price for the XBox 360 Messenger Kit, which also comes with the same headset, was $29. I figured for $10, I might as well try it out. I’ve had it for a couple hours now, and I must say it’s not bad. It’s definitely faster and easier to type out messages. Connecting it was a tad tricky, but no big deal. The headset that comes with it is the “revised” headset. You can tell the difference by the connector… It’s just the plug. The volume and mute switch are actually halfway up the cord. This headset actually provides richer sound, better base response, and the microphone actually seems to pick up my voice more accurately.

By reading the manual (You’re surprised, aren’t you?), I discovered that this keyboard has another trick up it’s sleeve… You can hook up any standard 2.5mm headset. So now, you can actually get a nice telephone headset (not the cheap-o ones for wireless phones, but ones actually designed for people who wear a telephone headset all day like customer service reps or receptionists) and use it with your 360.