At just £60, the Gioteck EX-05 gaming headset promises wireless surround-sound and plenty of features, but is it too good to be true?
Gioteck is a newcomer to the world of gaming headsets, with an agenda that is all about disruption. Its modus operandi is simple: selling grown-up products at frankly infantile prices.
The Gioteck EX-05, a gaming headset that boasts distinctive looks, wireless surround sound and basic but essential features such as independent volume controls for in-game noise and the voices of those you're playing with and against, yet costs just £60.
Indeed, that is its RRP, but pretty much everybody sells it for £40. So the big question is whether its sheer cheapness makes it practically unusable.
It must, surely, be a jumble of compromises in search of cheapness, when you consider that the £130 Sennheiser PC 360 G4ME, for example, is considered a mid-priced headset, whereas you could buy five EX-05s for the price of just one Creative Labs Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega.
Gioteck EX-05: Design
When you unbox the Gioteck EX-05, it is possible to see where some cost-cutting has been applied. Its main body is pretty cheap plastic, the foam on the earcups doesn't feel particularly robust and it doesn't have any padding on the headband, which is an unusually wide mesh, finished in a camouflage effect.
The boom microphone, too, is pretty wobbly, albeit firmly attached. The wide headband and camouflage stickers on the backs of the earcups suggest it was designed with the clichéd online gamer in mind – roughly speaking, Nick frost's military-obsessed character Mike from Spaced.
And even though it's wireless, it comes with two dongles, one of which is attached by wire to the headset itself. It does have a clip for attachment to your clothing, and thanks to being constructed of very low-quality plastic, it's very light, but you wouldn't expect it to survive being chewed by a dog, say.
However, it holds all the buttons a serious gamer needs: separate voice and in-game sound volume controls and microphone mute.
Gioteck EX-05: Setup
Tthe Gioteck EX-05 isn't the easiest gaming headset to set up, at least on the consoles, but neither is it the hardest. Like most of its peers, it doesn't come with an AV adaptor, which you will need if you want to use it with an Xbox 360 connected to a TV via an HDMI cable. You'll also need an extra AV cable to get it to work with a PS3. But it's very simple to set up for use with a PC or Mac, at least.
Gioteck EX-05: Comfort
Despite lacking any padding on its strap, the Gioteck EX-05 is pretty comfortable, with judiciously shaped earcups; the width of the strap spreads its weight nicely.
The suede-effect earcup pads, though, do have a tendency to induce a bit of sweating after a while. But when it's on your head it doesn't feel at all cheap or nasty, and there's no doubt that you could wear it for hours without any undue ill effects when playing an MMO, say.
Gioteck EX-05: Sound quality
Given its price, the Gioteck EX-05 sounds pretty amazing. But it's in the sound quality stakes that it noticeably fails to live up to the sort of standards set by Sennheiser's PC 360 G4ME or, especially, Creative Labs' Sound Blaster Recon 3D Omega.
In comparison with those two, thte bass lacks extension and sounds rubbery, the mid-range lacks punch and the treble lacks precision. The high end, in particular, sounds somewhat garbled, especially when playing music.
In a game, the sound it produces seems less inadequate, though and, miraculously, it does give you some idea of where 3D sounds are coming from. But overall, in a blind test, it wouldn't impress. However, no matter what gaming headsets you picked, it would be up against rivals costing twice as much or more.
Gioteck EX-05: Verdict
For the impecunious or those just getting into online gaming who aren't sure how committed they are, the Gioteck EX-05 should do the trick. They're so cheap that they are almost disposable, and as long as you're not an audiophile, they don't sound offensively bad, just lacklustre.
There are question marks over how long they would survive the wear and tear of the average living room, too, and they do make you look like the clichéd idea of a gamer. But if you've been credit-crunched, you would be surprised by how decent a job they do for a trivial amount of money.
This is the gaming headset equivalent of a Hyundai: cheap yet just about able to do the job.
Gioteck EX-05: Available now
Gioteck EX-05 price: £59.99