tech

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Creative is known amongst the gaming community for their top quality gaming headsets.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at their Sound Blaster ‘Blaze’ gaming headset.  Now, this is a budget gaming headset, available for around £33 at the time of writing this review (on Amazon UK) – will it be worth the buy?

 

 

First up, as always, the packaging, and, what’s in the box.  The box is nicely designed, sporting both, the Creative & Sound Blaster logo’s.  The red and black design works really well, and there is also a transparent plastic window that gives a nice preview of the headset.  On the front and back of the box, is a great deal of information about the Blaze, and is also available in different languages.  When you slide the headset out, it sits nicely in a red plastic housing, secured with a couple of cable ties.

 

 

 

Upon removing the headset from the box and plastic insert, the first thing that I noticed was how light this headset is!  The colour theme works really well – the red SB logo sits nicely on the matt black earcups.  The material on the earcups is a nice velvet material, which is very soft; this material is also found on the underside of the headband, which makes the comfort levels soar.  The left earcup sports a 3.5mm port to plug in the detachable microphone, as well as the cable that runs from the headset to the source you wish to plug it into.  Also found on this cable are the in-line controls.  This allows you to control the volume levels, as well as muting and unmuting the microphone.  At the end of the cable, there are two 3.5mm connectors – green for sound and pink for the microphone.  I had a 3.5mm splitter cable so hooked it up, and I can now use the headset with my Xbox One & PS4 controllers, as well as connecting directly to the PC.  Lastly, the headband.  As mentioned above, the material and padding on the headband is extremely comfortable. On the outer side of the headband is the Creative logo in a silver/grey colour, which is a nice touch.

 

 

The Blaze headset contains precision tuned 40mm drivers, which provide crisp and clear sound.  In games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, the game sounds are easily distinguishable, especially when it comes to listening out for enemies approaching, weapons reloading, and hearing which direction enemy fire is coming from.  In games such as Forza Horizon 3, the engine sounds really make you feel as if you are actually sitting in the car, the crowds cheering is as you would expect it to sound, almost like they truly cheering you on.  The microphone quality is also spot on.  People who were in party chat while I was using this headset commented on how clear my voice was, and it was coming through at a comfortable volume.

When it comes to other audio sources, such as movies and music, the Blaze does not disappoint.  I tried watching one of the many Transformers movies to see how well the headset handled the bass and volume levels, and I am extremely happy to say that, again, the headset provides quality audio.  The bass, while not as bassy as high-end headsets, there was enough in the bass levels to make the explosions sound as they should, which added to my viewing pleasure.  Listening to music was just the same – enough bass to enjoy the music, yet not too much to make the music sound distorted, even at max volume.

 

 

 

I feel that the Blaze headset is definitely worth the lower end price tag.  It has style, feels very nicely made, and the comfort level is outstanding.  I would happily recommend this headset to anyone who is on the lookout for a decent gaming headset.  It really has exceeded my expectations.

With most smartwatches costing an arm and a leg, it’s quite tempting to go for a cheaper option.  There are plenty of cheaper options available, but are they worth it?  After using the HAMSWAN U80 smartwatch for a little while, here are my thoughts.

First up; the packaging.  It is very minimal.  The box that the watch arrived in is relatively small, with an image of the watch on the front, as well as a brief look at a few of the features.  Below is a list of the watch features and specifications.

• Stopwatch and pedometer, sleep monitoring, anti-theft alarm supported
• Screen size and resolution: 1.44 inch, 128 x 128
• Battery type and capacity: lithium-ion polymer battery, 3.7V/230mAh
• Keys: POWER ON or back software feature
• Rest alarm: support, remind you to stand up, physical activity
• Drink alarm: support, is a reminder that you need to drink more water
• Phone call: support (Load Speaker and Receiver Mode)

Product Specification

• Type: MTK6260-ARM7 360MHz
• SRAM: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb NOR
• Flash: MTK6260 (built-in)-32mb
• Camera: No
• Touch module: yes
• Speaker: 8/0.7W speaker x 1
• MIC: yes, G-sensor: yes, GPS: no, BT: yes
• Bluetooth: MTK6260 (Built-in)-BT3.0
• Operation system: MTK
• Phone book: 1000
• SMS: support (need APP)
• MMS: push icon (need APP)
• Set time/date: user-defined
• Alarm: support five set

Package List:
• 1 x Smart Watch
• 1 x Charging Cable
• 1 x User Manual

One side of the watch has a button that activates and dims the screen, and the other side has the speaker, microphone, and the charging port – which is covered by a rubber cover that clips into place when not in use, preventing any dust or anything getting into the port.

 


After the initial first charge, I got to grips with the watch.  Connecting to my phone via bluetooth was a simple process, as it should be.  Now it is worth mentioning, to get the full use of the watch, you have to download a selection of apps from the app store.  (For text and other notifications.) If your smartphone has limited storage space, and/or you can’t utilise an SD Card, this is something that you should know from the off.  While the apps themselves aren’t huge in file size, having to have several different ones installed may be enough to put people off.  While on the subject of apps, there are no additional apps to download on the watch itself, so there isn’t anything extra to personalise the watch, just the pre-installed apps.

I wanted to give the pedometer function a proper run, so I did the initial setup (height, stride length*****,) strapped on the watch and ventured out to the local beach.  I had my Fitbit on to test the count number once I had finished walking the dogs.  Once finished, I opened the pedometer app on the watch, only to find that it had not registered a single step.  I restarted the watch and tried again .  This time around, it counted the steps, but there was a huge difference when I put the numbers alongside what was registered on the Fitbit – a massive 147 steps less!  This was off-putting, as well as a disappointment.

 

 

Another thing I found was, because of the silicone strap on the watch, it became quite irritating to wear due to sweat.  I know this is to be expected due to the material, but I thought it was worth a mention.

Next up, I tried a phonecall to my sister from the watch.  Now, while the volume of the watch speaker was loud enough to for me to hear in the middle of a busy supermarket, the quality of the call was disappointing.  The voice came through sounding like a robot- that’s the best way for me to describe it.  Initially, I didn’t even think it was my sister who answered the phone.  I then tried accessing my text messages.  Even though I had installed the apps that I needed, I was still unable to access my messages.

The responsiveness of the touchscreen was actually pretty good.  whether I was swiping from right to left, or selecting an app to go into and check stats, every click and swipe registered as it should.

 

 

The drink and rest alarms worked as they should, notifying me when I should have a drink of water, and also when I should get off my rear end and do some physical activity.  The bluetooth camera control seemed to work ok, but to use that feature, your phone needs to be unlocked and on the home screen.  A press of a button then triggered the phone to take a picture.  I guess this would come in handy if you are stood in front of the phone trying to get yourself into the picture.  The thing I noticed though, is that once I Had taken a picture, it was not anywhere to be found in my phones gallery.  I have no idea what happened to the random pictures that I took.

Is this watch worth the money?  Well, at the price of £15.99 on Amazon UK (at the time of writing this review) I would say yes, but only if you are after a very basic smartwatch.  The features don’t all work as they should, which I guess isn’t surprising when you see the price tag.  This is ultimately a gadget that doesn’t perform 100% as it should, the best bit being that it tells the time accurately, and that it has a good look about it.  I’d advise saving a bit of money and going for something with a higher price tag.