CES 2012: Hands-on with Caliber, iFrogz’ first gaming headset
iFrogz isn’t a name you normally associate with gaming headsets. Sure, they have a strong lineup of iPod accessories and quality headphones ranging from stylish earbuds to higher end headphones for people with more discriminating audio tastes, but the company is preparing to enter the crowded gaming peripheral market with their upcoming Caliber. They’re so new, iFrogz hasn’t even prepared an official press release, and no date has been announced (our best guess is before March 2012), but I had a chance to demo them at their CES booth and came away impressed.
iFrogz’ mid to high priced units are known for balancing build quality and amazing bass response with an attractive price. The Caliber maintains this balance, and at a pricepoint of $89.99, it’s going to turn heads.
The first thing that stands out about the Caliber is that it’s cross-platform. According to the PR rep we spoke with, the headphones will plug-and-play via a USB connection on your PC or PS3, although nothing was mentioned about the Xbox 360. Given that system’s more proprietary voice connection setup, we doubt it will be compatible.
The blue and black design, which is bold without being gaudy, sports a retractable silver boom mic. It seems the colors were chosen deliberately, as they compliment both the PS3 and the popular blue and black tower designs for PC. Though weighty, they feel much more comfortable while being worn thanks to liberal cushioning — though they don’t fit as snugly as the Vertex line.
Style and affordability are great, but the most important aspect of a gaming headset is the sound quality. While the PR reps didn’t have any game demos available, I plugged the unit into my netbook and cranked up some Skrillex. The deep bass was phenomenal without sounding artificial, and that was before turning on the Caliber’s “Vibrating Bass Driver” which increased the bass depth even more, without distorting. The mids and highs were clear and vibrant, and the maximum volume was more than satisfactory. I would easily drop $89 on these headphones, even without the built-in chat capabilities.
Spec-wise, the Caliber supports 7.1 surround sound, has a 40mm driver, and a fairly standard 20hz-20Khz frequency response. An easy to locate volume wheel is on the left side, near the boom mic.
Curiously, it seemed to lack one thing: A mute button. Perhaps this will be added in the final release, or a future version. We’ll stay on top of any developments, because it could be a dealbreaker for some gamers. In addition, the rep couldn’t tell us whether or not the headphones would support “ducking,” a feature that lowers game volume while active chatting takes place.
Overall, though, we walked away impressed with iFrogz’ debut gaming headset. Stick around at VGW as we’ll definitely be reviewing the final unit when it’s released in the near future.