By Jeffrey Mizrahi
Once again, Logitech held its annual Holiday Preview event in Manhattan, displaying the past, present, and future of their products. This year, Logitech was showing off more than usual as they have purchased the top of the line headset company, Astro Gaming, within the past year. Here are some of my initial impressions on all the tech I got my hands on.
Just because they own Jaybird, Ultimate Ears, and Astro Gaming, doesn’t mean Logitech is going to stop doing what it does best: desktop accessories. From the C922 Pro Stream Webcam, which now supports 60 FPS recording, to the G513 Keyboard, with a bundled in second set of keys giving the WASD keys a more tactile feel, topped with the MX Master 2S mouse with a secondary scroll wheel by the thumb for further control, Logitech aims to make themselves the go-to company for any aspiring streamer or content creator. What stood out most to me was the G560 LightSync PC Gaming Speaker. At first it looked like another piece of tech with RGB lights strapped on them, however, these colored lights could actually serve a utilitarian purpose.
What makes these speakers unique is how the colors sync to areas on your screen. All you have to do is select which area of the screen you want the speakers to mimic and watch the colors fly. For instance, set the speakers to display the portion of your screen that shows your ultimate meter in Overwatch. The speakers will light up your room with a standard white light for most of the match, but once your meter is full and turns yellow, the speakers will follow and shift to a cool yellow glow, giving a more immersive experience. They’re similar in idea to the light bar on a DualShock 4, but that light isn’t so big, isn’t really in your in line of sight, and isn’t customizable. The G560 is all those things.
Outside of their desktop equipment, things were a little less impressive. They had their old line of iPad keyboard cases which are pretty tried and true, but what had me scratching my head was the Logitech Keys-to-Go. A super thin Bluetooth keyboard that at first seems convenient, but once I started typing I was immediately turned off. The keys are all part of this one plastic mesh, so when you press one key, the whole surrounding area depresses with it. Even if you’re not a fan of touch screen keyboards, I would not recommend this as a better alternative.
In my opinion, Astro Gaming has been making THE best gaming headsets for a decade now, and after seeing their latest lineup, that sentiment still holds true. The Astro A50’s remain the top of the line wireless headsets for 7.1 surround sound console or PC gaming. I have personally been using this headset for almost five years now, and have zero complaints. Since no changes have been made here, I guess it’s hard to top perfection.
Astro is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Astro A40’s with a special edition A40 TRX which has the same insides, but it sports a stunning blue and red design on the exterior. Next up is the A20, which was pitched to me as the little brother of the A50’s and a “feature-lite” version. While it only supports stereo, these headsets are wireless and share a similar build to the A50, all the while being half the price.
However, the newest number is the A10, a great cheap, high quality wired headset. What surprised me was how durable this thing is. Like REALLY durable. I was bending, twisting, and squeezing this thing and it still worked fine. The band is made of steel covered in rubber so it can really withstand anything. Threw it against a wall in a fit of rage after losing a match? Left it on the couch and your dad sat on it? Even just tossing it in your bag with no case, this baby will not break. At $60, I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a first headset while not trying to break the bank. I also got to see their officially licensed by Legend of Zelda branded A10’s designed with gold decals from Breath of the Wild. While these won’t deliver the 7.1 surround sound, wireless experience from the A50’s, for a portable system like the Switch, these are a perfect fit due to their durability and small form factor.
While the UE line of “Boom” speakers (Wonderboom, Megaboom, Boom 2) remained relatively the same as last year, the new Megablast definitely has me interested. This portable Bluetooth speaker has all the bells and whistles that UE is known for – like fantastic sound, waterproof-ability, float-ability, and long lasting battery life. Yet it adds one feature that pretty much turns it into a whole new device. Amazon Alexa is built into this portable speaker, making it not only more effective than an outlet powered, stay at home Amazon Echo, it even sounds better. Having an Amazon Echo in my dining room is nice, but it gets annoying when I want to move it literally anywhere else. I have to unplug and power off the device, then hope that wherever I’m going has open outlets to power it back on. The Megablast is just slightly bigger than an Echo yet is just so much more versatile due to the fact that it doesn’t need to be wired down to anything in order to use it. If you do want to treat it like an Alexa, you can buy the Power Up Charging Dock for $40 which keeps the speaker charged and ready to go, all while listening to any of your “Alexa…” commands in the background.
This year, Logitech is focusing more on refinements rather than game changing ideas. With Nintendo’s blessing, the Astro A10’s very well might be the go-to headset for Nintendo Switch gamers. And with the addition of Alexa, the Megablast may very well be the best Alexa device, and the best portable speaker, on the market.
Jeffrey Mizrahi is a contributing writer/intern for the New York Videogame Critics Circle. You can find more of his musings pretty much anywhere on the internet @MrBrawl96