Astro A38 headset preview: move over Beats, Astro is in the building
I've reviewed a lot of headsets. Most of them are specifically for PC and/or gaming consoles. I've also tested my fair share of Astro headsets, like the A40 and the Skullcandy PLYR 1. Astro always designs their products with gamers' needs in mind; that's what I love about them. They thrive off of creating products that give style to gaming culture in an effort to be to gamers what Oakley is to sports -- a brand to identify with.
With the popularity of headphones and headsets like Beats taking off in recent years, it makes sense that Astro would want to create a competing product in that market. That's exactly what they've done with the Astro A38, a bluetooth headset that functions perfectly whether you're traveling, at the office, commuting or at home. It's designed to be used with mobile products, not gaming consoles or PCs, but still keeps features that gamers want.
I've been lucky enough to beta test the A38, and here are my thoughts so far.
I've used the Astro A38 headset with my iPhone, PS Vita and new Microsoft Surface 2. Pairing the A38 is really simple, and it's also easy to switch between paired devices. The sounds quality is pretty good for a bluetooth headset, but with the Vita, sound would cut out for a second every so often and then come back. I'm not sure if it's an issue with the Vita or the A38, though. Still, like I said, the A38 provides good sound quality across multiple devices, be it playing games or listening to music. It handled Rush (the band) pretty well, and Rush has a lot of intricate sounds.
Unfortunately, since the Nintendo 3DS doesn't have bluetooth, you can't use the A38 across all the mobile gaming devices you might own. When I travel, I bring my tablet, phone, Vita and 3DS. It sucks that I'd have to carry two headsets for my devices and that I just can't use the A38 with all of them. I understand that the A38 is meant as a bluetooth headset that frees you from wires, but this problem could be easily fixed if they added the option for a 3.5mm cable for the 3DS.
With my phone, I also used the A38 to make and answer a few calls. The call quality was fine, and my coworkers said my voice came through really clear. I even left my phone on my desk and walked around the office -- I'd say a good 40 to 50 feet away -- and the mic and call quality didn't suffer at all. That really surprised me, and I could easily see myself using these for that purpose while traveling.
The design of the A38 is superb, as well. It looks cool, and there isn't an abundance of buttons; just for power and pairing, mute, volume, and a multi-function button. While I would have liked the mute button to be a button instead of the switch it currently is, that's just preference. That said, the headset is sleek and feels very sturdy. Since I'm traveling a lot and also toss my headset into my bag, that's important.The A38 comes with a great case for portability. It's big, but if you want to keep the A38 protected, it's worth bringing.
The Astro A38 is really comfortable. It's like wearing marshmallows on your ears. The ear cushions are so squishy and comfortable, and they block out a ridiculous amount of noise. Seriously, I can't hear my wife when she's talking five feet away from me. Likewise, when I took off the headset, the sound of my air conditioner running sounded like a jet about to take off. So like I said, it blocks out an insane amount of noise.
And if you're doing a lot of traveling, don't worry; the A38 holds a charge for 15 to 20+ hours and only takes five hours to charge.
The Astro A38 isn't perfect, but it's a really great option for gamers looking for a bluetooth mobile headset. It's comfortable, lasts long on a charge, sounds good, and is versatile. The amount of sound it blocks out wows me, but I'm still disappointed I can't use it with all my mobile devices, especially when you consider a good amount of gamers own a 3DS.
There's still changes coming to the Astro A38, but it's one of the more polished products I've ever beta tested. The price keeps it competitive with the most popular headsets, and the A38 should benefit from the Astro brand. Forget those Beats headphones, check out the Astro A38 instead.