Astro Gaming A38 Bluetooth headset, USB TX wireless transmitter, and Halo partnership pictures and hands-on
Astro Gaming is at E3 2014 in Los Angeles, where it has announced two new products set to debut this year as well as a new partnership with Microsoft's Halo video game franchise. And Pocket-lint got the inside scoop and even a first-hand look at some of the upcoming goodies.
The San Francisco-based company, which headphone maker Skullcandy acquired in 2011, is known for developing well-designed prosumer gaming headsets such as the A40 and A50 wireless systems, and now it has come up with another headset that extends beyond gaming. Called the A38, it's a Bluetooth headset built for mobile devices, laptops, and gaming. It's also considerably cheaper than Astro's other products, though still pricey.
We got a look at the final version of the A38, which Astro first introduced at CES 2014 in January as a beta, and it features a tonne of changes based on feedback gathered from the beta program. Astro increased the headset's volume levels, bolstered noise cancellation, improved range, stability, and microphone sensitivity, and changed the mini USB port for micro USB. That allows Android and Windows Phone-based devices to use the A38.
We thought the A38 felt very soft and lightweight. We especially enjoyed the swivel-functionality of the speaker cups as well as the invisible microphone. During our brief demo, we also immediately loved the stellar noise cancellation and crisp sound. The swappable speaker tags are pretty cool too, which include video game art derived from partnerships like Ubisoft.
The A38, which is expected to debut around August for $229, will come in two colour options: gray or white. The headset's box is also predominately white and gray in design - a noticeable visual difference from Astro's black-and-gray retail boxes for prosumer headsets.
The next product on display at Astro's E3 booth was a new USB TX wireless transmitter for PCs. Just think of it as a streamlined wireless PC audio solution for the Astro A50 headset. The A50’s base station is a box that routes optical audio from your console or home entertainment system. Astro's new USB TX provides the same solution by running a bit of software on your tray...only it's not a box. It's a little USB adapter that is compatible Windows machines (eventually Mac).
With the USB TX, A50 owners can listen to Dolby 7.1 surround sound. They'll also have access to programmable sound profiles and wireless chat and in-game audio. Astro's USB TX will cost $40 for existing A50 owners when it launches next month, but you'll also be able to get it in a bundle that'll include the A50 headset. Although it will only come in the colour black, it does have a bit of illumination that we're sure most gamers will appreciate.
Last but not least, Astro told Pocket-lint that we can soon expect some officially-licensed Halo products from Astro in the future. Astro described its new multi-year deal as something that comes "full-circle", considering pro-Halo gamers helped Astro develop and fine-tune its popular A40 and A50 headsets way back in the day. And now it will work with Halo developer 343 Industries on a line of Halo-themed gear (like headsets and speaker tags).
That said, we weren't given any specific details about what these products might look like or do. We don't even know when they'll launch or for how much. But it's still exciting nonetheless.
Check out the gallery below for more images.