Wireless devices have been around for a while. I know a lot of people with wireless keyboards and mice, plus I have seen wireless on headsets before, especially using Bluetooth. However they all had one thing in common with me, I hated them! Blue tooth was spotty at best for me and usually was not working right half the time. Wireless keyboards and mice were great, until the battery died in the middle of a very big, hard and meaningful battle. I am not sure how they managed it but this happened every time. Then add too this the fact that a lot of early wireless devices did not always reconnect as they should if the batteries ran dry during use. It is pretty easy to see why I would be bias against wireless devices.
So when we got the Vengeance 2000 Wireless headset from Corsair I have to admit my opinion was forming before I opened the box. I read the box specs, claims of working up to 40’ away and with a battery life of 10 hours were a challenge for me to dis-prove. I mean seriously everyone makes wild claims with their wireless and then fail to hit the mark unless you baby the device.
So I opened the box and began my quest to knock this headset around. The headset itself looks very similar to the Vengeance 1500, our Golden Mic 2012 winner. It has the same aluminum body and brushed finish, the same design for the mic boom, uses the same size drivers. Okay wait a second this looks to be pretty much identical to the 1500 and a call to Corsair did confirm that the 50mm drivers used in the 2000 and the 1500 are the same. They also use the same memory foam system in the headband and ear covers. Now there are a lot of tweaks to the design used by the 2000 but owes a lot of it’s looks and style to the 1500.
Since this is a wireless device it still needs a connection to the PC and that is provided by a USB dongle which sends the signal to the headset. Along with the dongle is a USB extension with stand so you can make sure the wireless transmitter is in an area to give the best signal to the headset. You can also see with the headset we get a manual, warranty card and a USB powered charge cable for the headset.
On the left cuff you will notice the chrome area. This is the power button for the unit. Corsair made sure to require an extended depress of about 5 seconds for the power to cycle. This means it is hard to accidently turn the headset off during an intense game session. Directly below the power button is a blue light that will flash when the power is on. Below that is a chrome scroll bar that is the volume control for the headset.
Let’s take on the first claim before we dive into an overall review, the 10 hour batter life. First let me say bravo for making this headset able to work as wired or wireless as far as the battery is concerned. The headset will emit a small beep into your sound when the batter begins to run low and the beep will come more often as the battery gets closer to running out. This aspect of it worked well as I was given about 15 minutes warning before the headset would not work under battery power any more. This is plenty of warning and all you need do is connect a small USB cable to keep on playing.
As for the length of batter life, I charged the headset to full power and began a marathon gaming session. I made sure the headset always had something going, even playing music into the headset when I was away from game, I wanted to see how the battery life held up. I started getting my beeps at 9 hours 38 minutes, that is really close to the 10 hours Corsair promised. When you realize that I pushed this headset way harder than most would push then the 10 hour battery life is a real possibility, Corsair has lived up to claim one.
Claim two is that this unit can transmit up to 40’. Okay maybe in an open field with no power lines and such right. So I setup the system and fired up some music and started walking around my house. Now in fairness my house has an open floor plan so your mileage may vary but I was pretty surprised when I managed to walk into my son’s room at the end of the hall and still has sound. At this point however I had noticed a few cutouts so I walked back up to where the sound was clean and measure the distance. The distance in a straight line was 37 feet, that was through two full walls and across the kitchen. I was even able to go outside on the deck and listen to music with these and had no issues. It seems these headsets hit claim two.
Now I started with the claims because in my experience these are where most wireless devices fail, they never seem able to live up to the claims made. However Corsair has delivered right on the claims made with the wireless capabilities of the Vengeance 2000 as well as the battery life. Now how do they sound?
As we have talked about before we test headsets using a variety of music, movies and games to get a feel for the sound. I have listened to a lot of headsets of late so I guess I am kind of burnt out. However when I put on the Corsair headset and fired up “The Race is On” by Sawyer Brown, the song had been playing only about 30 seconds when I said, in a very loud voice according to my wife, “HOLY CRAP”! (This quote was cleaned up for our younger audience>) The reason for this exclamation was the sound was incredible.
Now understand that was at default software settings and I had not listened to these yet at all. This was a RAW listening with no tweaking and I was already impressed with the sound. The tweaking for the sound is done within their software. The EQ is actually pretty simple and you have a solid choice of pre-sets to choose from. Your also have the option to enable virtual 7.1 sound. This works really well and goes a long way to enhancing the sound experience.
I moved through my music and I found each one actually seemed to sound better than the last. When I hit my Iron Man test scene for movie sound testing I could almost feel the concussion wave of the explosions, the base was so solid. In gaming this kept getting better. The 7.1 sound emulation allowed me to identify sound locations and the game itself came alive.
This immersion was further enhanced by the closure that you get when you wear these. I actually have a hard time hearing people around me and had to turn the volume up to about 90% before my wife could hear the music outside the headsets, even when very close to me. Of course at that volume I was risking my hearing so she is happy with the fact she does not hear my games or voice comms when I am on line with my friends.
The microphone appears to be the same one as used on the 1500 but it does not quite deliver the same clear recording sound that the 1500 was able to deliver. This could be a limitation of the wireless system or could be a software tweak but in the end I feel the 1500 does a better job with voice recording and transmission that the 2000. Now let’s be clear the mic on the 2000 is really good, but it did not quite equal the 1500 which is still the best headset mic we have tested.
With a long battery life, Corsair must be expecting people to wear this headset for a long time. Comfort was the one area in the Vengeance 1500 we felt fell short. Well it seems someone at Corsair got the message because the comfort level in the Vengeance 2000 is spot on. These use the same memory foam system as the 1500 and the same microfiber weave to cover it. However along the way this design has been tweaked, the foam feels a little thinner in both the ear cuffs and head band. Now you would think thinner would be worse but the opposite is true, these feel more comfortable on the ears.
Another tweak that seems to have been done is the clamping force that we found in the 1500 has been reduced in the 2000. Now looking at the two headsets it appears to me this was because of a design change. The 2000 has the ear cuffs centered on the end of the arms, in the case of the 1500 the ear cuffs are actually centered about 1.75” up from the arm ends. This means the pressure exerted by the arms is higher on the 1500. This shows a lot in long term wear. I have to take off the 1500 after an hour or two of play. I have actually done all day play sessions in the 2000 with no issues. Now in fairness the 1500 band breaks in after long term use and the pressure reduces but even that break-in does not reach the level of comfort the 2000 delivers.
There is one factor that needs to be discussed about this headset an intangible that does not normally come up and that is the effect the wireless has on the experience. I had been using the 2000 for about 4 days when I needed to go back to my old headset to do some work. When I did I immediately felt like I was tied down. The wire connection was noticeable to me, despite having a very long cable that had never been an issue before. I have to admit this has really surprised me.
Now I did find two areas I wish Corsair would change and the notes on this has been passed to Corsair. First I do not like the fact that there is no on screen or audio indicator that the headset is turned on or turned off. I think a simple indicator that would allow easy recognition without holding the headset so you can see the side would be a nice touch. I have also requested they redesign the plug for the USB power to a simple round plug. The reason for this is the USB style plug they have on the headset side is sometimes not the most natural thing to plug in. When you are in the middle of a match and want to quickly add power before continuing this can be a bit frustrating.
In the end however these are minor nitpicks on a product that is outstanding. Corsair has done the wireless headset right and delivered a solid product with amazing sound, a good mic and lived up to the claims they set for battery life and range. This is not a budget headset by any means with the current price on Newegg at $109.00 this headset is a STEAL for the serious gamer. I cannot begin to find the words of the freedom you feel when your headset is no longer tethered. I have been able to enjoy game time with my friends, even while doing laundry, cooking dinner or cleaning house. I can also do these activities while listen to my music and not interrupt the family while they might be watching a movie.
I guess the best way to tell you how I feel about this headset is that it is still on my desk and is NOT leaving it until it breaks. When that happens I will beg Corsair for another one.
Segment as aired live 25 August 2012
We have recently been looking at quite a few headsets for gamers and as you know headsets hold a special place in the hearts of myself and Doug. When we started the review we saw some analog and some USB sets but since none of them were really the same headset a proper comparison was just not fair. However I REAALY wanted to do a comparison and talked to a few companies about this. Our friends at Steelseries though this was a good idea and sent me their Diablo III headsets which are very close in design to their Siberia v2 headsets we already had.
So with these two headsets in our hot greedy little hands it was time to let the testing begin. For the purpose of our test we used my main gaming rig and put in a Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series card with the front I/O Port. Four our USB hookup we used the front USB ports on our Thermaltake Level 10 GT case. I considered using the rear hookups because they would have less cabling in them and could give a cleaner signal but I wanted a realistic setup and the front connections were more likely.
As we do with all our headset testing we ran sound comparisons using music, movies, games and a microphone comparison done by recording me speaking. The testing was done in two rounds, the first with the sound set at default, stock settings and the second with the sound tweaked using the control software for both methods.
At the stock settings the X-Fi and Analog headset were clear winners with the sound having a much richer tone to it. Bass in my musical choices was clear and thumped nicely, the movie playback had clear sound with explosions and special effects having good rich tones and the game playback was really nice to listen to. The USB headset was not awful, I have heard much worse over the years but it was not close to the sound delivered by the X-Fi. The bass was lacking and this resulted in everything having a sound that was just not pleasing, the depth of sound did not seem to be there.
Opening the controls for the USB headset I found that Steelseries has some very basic software with a nice feature. You are not seeing wrong, that is a simple 5 band EQ. Now the sound guy in me cringed when I looked at this, a 5 band EQ is not going to give me a lot of control but I was pleasantly surprised at much effect it did have. With just a few minutes of tweaking I was able to pull in a sound that I really enjoyed, equaling if not being a little better than the X-Fi at stock.
Now the cool feature I mention is under the properties tab. There I can select an EXE and have the sound dynamic I created with the EQ change automatically for the program I am using. Now in fairness I am personally not likely to use this. I like to get my sound tuned in the way I like it and find that it works well for me in anything I am listening to, but I do know a lot of people that like to tweak sound for specific uses and this would be very handy.
Opening the software for the sound card gives a much richer set of tools to adjust the sound. We double the EQ controls to 10 channel as well as have controls to add other effects. Playing with the settings I was able to take the sound to an even higher quality level again passing the USB solution but not by much. While I was able to achieve some more bass and a bit more sound depth the difference was not enough to really effect my listening pleasure.
After we got the listening testing done it was time to turn to the recording, using the microphone. Again I tested at basic settings and then tweaked the settings. The USB solution had no real tweaks to the microphone other than adjust the levels. The X-Fi however has a very rich sound recording package that essentially gives you a small mixing board for your PC. However even with these extra tools the recorded audio quality was nearly identical.
Now looking at this setup I can imagine some of you are wondering why I would compare a good quality sound card to a USB solution. Why not instead compare to the onboard sound that can be found on most motherboards? Well I did actually start there and what I found was that the USB solution was better at stock than the sound on 3 different motherboards, all using Realtek solutions. I realized I needed to up the level of this testing a bit. Further looking at the USB headsets I have looked at, they are all running around $80 or better, this means to get a meaningful headset comparisons you need a similar quality analog set, something someone that is just using onboard sound is likely to pay.
So lets begin putting our conclusions together by first looking at cost. A good sound card is around $100 and the card I chose to use is closer to $150. The basic Siberia v2 headset is around $80 and the USB solution of the Diablo III set is around $110 on Amazon. If you are spending this much on a headset then the odds are you are going to tweak it to get the sound you truly want so the base settings while an interesting exercise can be thrown out for the final conclusion.
From a pure sound quality point of view the analog set with a good sound card wins, however the margin of victory is not all that large and when you realize that 200% or better cost of that solution it is definitely not a value. While the sound card approach in this case offered some nice features for recording, the simple truth is most people do not need those features and again for the cost difference did not really matter.
Now you can see were I am heading I am sure, the USB is the better solution from a cost to performance perspective in the case I mentioned. However take that conclusion with a grain of salt. What I mean is that not all USB headsets are created equal and so this might not always play out this way. In the review I have done here I am comparing two headsets that are VERY close to identical hardware with the exception of the USB connection. This means we are actually testing the headsets less than the USB sound solution they are using.
This at the end of the day is the real test we are seeing here, can a USB solution keep up with a good analog solution and the answer is yes. The USB solution from Steelseries beat out onboard sound on a few different boards and after tweaking gave an X-Fi a run for it’s money. I have recently look at another solution that produce sound close to the X-Fi as well. The key is to make sure you get a good USB sound solution.
What this means for gamers is you can have the high end headset and great sound without the added cost of the sound card. The onboard sound is usually enough for everyday use but when it comes time to delve a dungeon in Skyrim and you want the immersion of a headset then these work great and with a little less cost than getting the same quality headset with a good soundcard to make it worth the headsets cost.
USB sound has come a long way and for a gaming headset it seems a solid way to go.
Show Segment as aired 14 April 2012
Let me take the time to say thank you to Steelseries for giving us the headsets used in this comparison as well as to Kingston for providing the RAM and SSDs used in our test systems and Thermaltake for the PSUs and Cases used for our test builds.
Headsets hold a special place in our hearts on Computer Ed Radio. As radio show hosts we use headphones a lot for working with the show and various other aspects of radio. In addition as we are both avid gamers we use headphones for our recreation as well. To give you an idea of how big a deal headphones are to us, I figured out that I wear a headset roughly 45 hours a week. That’s a lot of time to be in a headset so not only does it need to sound good, it needs to be comfortable as well. We spoke with the folks at Corsair about our passion for headsets and so they decided to step up and asked us to take a look at the Vengeance 1500.
The Vengeance line is Corsairs line of high end, professional, gaming gear and the 1500 is their premier headset. The 1500 uses a USB connection to give you 7.1 surround sound as well as Dolby Pro Logic. The 7.1 sound is simulated and not multiple speakers per cup.
Four our sound testing we picked some of our usually music choices, specifically two songs I now use all the time, Unskinny Bop and The Race is On. Both songs have strong base range and this is something I look for in a headset. For movies I chose I use Ironman, a great movie BTW and then for gaming I chose some games I am active in right now, Skyrim, Reckoning and Arkham City.
Opening the box I was amazed with how littler there was in the package. The only think in the package was literally a couple of pieces of paper for registration information and the headset, that was it. I expected a driver CD but the enclosed papers told me to download the drivers from the Corsair website. This is actually a good idea as this allows Corsair to make sure a new customer is always getting the latest driver with their purchase.
The 1500 comes with a nice long USB connection that has a volume control in line. Instead of a scrolling wheel as so many headsets use, Corsair has opted for a volume up and down button along with a mute button. When the headset is in use the volume buttons are surrounded by an LED that is blue when the mike is on and red when it is muted.
The headset itself uses a clamp style band that is very stylish with a nice soft, padded top and the sides are brushed aluminum to match the rest of the Vengeance peripheral lineup. The ear cups each hold a 50mm driver for great sound quality and is padded with a fabric material with memory foam. The mike is a stiff arm design that lifts out of the way when not in use and the ear cups can rotate 90 degrees for easy storage. The cups themselves are larger and deeper than most headsets meaning it should fit nicely over anyone’s ears.
My wife can be seen modeling the headset for us to show you the nice aluminum side and the mike extended for use. The styling is really nice with a light hint of blue trim and the black and aluminum giving this a very classy look. The cabling is very high quality with a nice heavy braid. The construction is very solid and Corsair is backing it with a 2 year warranty, very nice for a headset.
The software, as we mentioned needs to be downloaded for the headset to be used. The software is outstanding in it’s simplicity and ease of use. The software allows you to choose between three base settings;
- Bypass which is the basic headphone settings.
- Dolby which lets you adjust environmental size and type
- 7.1 which simulates surround sound and adjust the parameters to give you the experience you will most enjoy.
All three settings also allow you to use the software’s EQ which comes with a great collection of created profiles; Default, Music+Bass, Music Reference, Movie Mod +, FPS Gaming and MMO Gaming. Each of these has been created by Corsair to work with the sound dynamics of the headset and try to optimize for the use intended. You have to be a real sound buff to tell the difference but this is still a nice feature to offer. You can of course also create custom profiles.
Okay so the 1500 looks good, is well built and has cool software but how does it sound? For music the bass sound reproduction was outstanding. The sound quality was really spot on and just great to listen to. What was really surprising was that this USB headset actually sounded BETTER than a good analog headset on a stock setting X-Fi sound card. Now with some tweaking the X-Fi was able to regain a small lead but the USB sound system created by Corsair really delivered the goods.
Movies delivered the same great base, you feel the sound as much as hear it and the reproduction was well done. Also I was really impressed with the 7.1 sound these recreated. I understand logically that this was not true 7.1 but just a simulation with 2 drivers but the simulation is so well done that the difference was to small to matter.
For gaming the combination of the 7.1 sound with the nice base made gaming a really great experience, the sound was very immersive and makes me glad I game in a headset. Speakers are okay but I still believe that nothing beats the immersion of a good headset, I can say the 1500 really shows that immersion at it’s finest.
Finally we turn to the microphone, something we are really picky about here. Microphones often seem like an afterthought with many gaming headsets. Now that is not to say they are generally bad but it seems like they are never at the same quality as the sound components. Like I said I am really picky about my mikes so I was not expecting a lot from the Vengeance, however that did not stop it from delivering. The Vengeance 1500 had the BEST mike I have found yet in a gaming headset. The input was very clean, excellent noise cancelling and was noticeably clearing than any other mike we have put through the ringer.
While we loved using the 1500 all was not perfect. The cloth ear padding cover made my ears warm up under extended use a great deal more than a leatherette design. The material was also a little coarse for my taste. The clamp style headband lived up to it’s clamp name, there was more pressure on me head than was comfortable for long use. After about an hour or so I actually was a bit uncomfortable and could not imagine wearing these for a long gaming session. Finally I encountered a few glitches with the software, basically when a game would turn of it’s sound while sitting idle, like when I stepped away from the game for a bit, the headset would not pick up the sound again when I returned unless I restarted the game.
The issues however I have mentioned are very much personal choice in the case of comfort and the software glitch is actually minor, only happened in two games, and only under very specific circumstances. In actual active game play, listening to music or movies the headset performed flawlessly. Priced on Newegg at around $85 the Vengeance 1500 is priced as you would expect a high end gaming headset. Corsair has shown that when they making a gaming component they take it to the next level and the 1500 has done that. The sound quality is outstanding and the mike is the best I have seen on any gaming headset. The software makes this headset easy to tweak to suite your particular audio tastes. It is a definitely a headset worth of the Corsair name and should be on your short list if looking for a great gaming headset.
Corsair Vengeance 1500 USB Headset Reviewed Live 24 March 2012
You know of all the computer parts one that is take truly for granted is the USB key. I remember when these first came out and how we marveled at the ability to easily move files between PCs without waiting for a CD to burn or trying to use floppies. These simple little devices changed the way we moved files between systems and put the final nail into the floppy coffin. However they have changed little over the years except for adding more space. The original drives where tiny compared to today and expensive as well. Today an 8 gig key might set you back $10 and we all have one laying around someone, most of us have more than one.
Kingston, as one of the industry leaders in memory has had a solid line of USB drives over the years. Producing these devices under the name of Data Traveler, Kingston build on it’s solid reputation with a dependable USB Key that was reasonably priced. However looking back over the years there was an absence of the use of the HyperX name when it came to these drives. The reason for this was simple, for Kingston the HyperX brand is their flag ship and unless they felt they could do something that would really stand out they wanted to not make use of the branding. Well it appears that special USB Key design has been found and so we are looking today at the Data Traveler HyperX.
For before we begin lets be clear, this is NOT a common use USB key. Priced at $130 on Newegg, this is a serious luxury item. With 64 gig of memory this is the size of a decent SSD and makes full use of the USB 3.0 ports you see on new computers. This key comes in two sizes, the 64 gig model we are looking at today and a 128 gig model for those needing even more space.
Now remember this is a HyperX product so this is the best of the best and Kingston setout to make sure this was achieved. Not only do you have a large capacity for storage, the devices use an 8 channel memory controller to allow this drive to reach incredible transfer rates. In fact according to Kingston on a USB 3 port this drive should move data faster than a spindle hard drive.
We started out testing by running a quick read test using Crystal Disk Mark, I reran the test 4 times to confirm the fact that this drive was doing a sequential transfer rate of 250 MB/s. Not only is this FAST but it is faster than spindle hard drives, something I have never seen from a USB key and faster than the speed Kingston rates the device at.
However simple benchmarks have never impressed me so I decided to see what this beast could do with real world usage. I put together a test folder made up of pictures, some programs and even a short video. To ensure the key was not held back I put the file on my HyperX SSD and then transfer the folder to the USB Key and them transferred it back, measuring the time with a stopwatch. For comparison purposes I used another brand of USB 3.0 key and a generic 8 gig USB 2 key, all devices where used on the USB 3 port connected to a Z68 based motherboard.
Using the USB 2.0 device as the standard and zero mark the other USB device was at 19% faster. This was a nice speed boost but not what you would hope for with the move to USB 3 on a device supposedly designed to use the USB 3 speed. Next up was the HyperX and again we ran the test mutliple times to confirm the results, the HyperX was 417% faster! I am not kidding and this is not a typo, the speed difference was NUTS! To give you an idea of how fast we did 500 meg, 76 files of various sizes in under 10 seconds.
Okay so this suckers lets you move files onto it fast, what about off the drive to the SSD? Again the generic USB 2 device is our standard and our other USB 3 device achieved a more impressive than last time, clocking at 170% faster. Now we begin to see the USB 3 speed kick in. Again we fired up the HyperX and again our jaws dropped when the numbers showed that the data was moved back to the SSD 651% faster! This translates BTW into right at 4 seconds to pull the data off the key.
Okay so this is impressive but can it sustain those speeds, well I had a thought and I wanted to test it. Remember this is a HUGE device with 64 gigs of space. With the amazing transfer rates I was seeing I wanted to see what this little key could really do so I moved my entire STEAM folder to the key and unplugged my 64 Gig SSD that I use for my STEAM games. Now with the games fully moved over and the software running okay I fired up Skyrim.
This was a seriously ambitious test that would make any other USB key fall to it’s knees in tears, however the Hyper X did not even burp as it swallowed everything I threw at it, letting me play Skyrim and Civilization V off the USB key with no performance hit. In fact compared to a spindle drive, a Caviar blue, the games actually loaded a little quicker. To say this result is insane is an understatement!
With a USB 3 enabled computer this key is more like an external SSD. The performance is amazing and it can be used just like an internal storage device. I can serious see this paired with a netbook or laptop using an SSD and this being the storage drive for data and even some software. It would be like adding a second SSD to the device.
Fast is great but will the HyperX hold up to use? Well Kingston thinks so as the device comes with a 5 year warranty. The exterior of the device is made of a mix of a powder coated metal and rubber. To be honest though I did not have a clue of how tough the metal was until I did the key test on it. However rather than try to explain how tough the finish is I thought you should see it for yourself and so put together a quick video.
As I said at the start Kingston had held off creating a HyperX USB Key until they felt they could make something worthy of the HyperX branding, HOLY COW! This is the fastest USB Key I have ever seen, and I have seen a ton of them over the years, none have ever come close to this level of performance. I mean a lot of spindle hard drives do not come close to this level of performance, some old SSDs did not beat this thing in benchmarks! I think it is safe to say Kingston found a design worthy of the HyperX branding.
As if all that speed and the massive storage was not enough, Kingston made this key TOUGH! I have run this key over with a car, stepped on it, put it through a washer cycle and it keeps working. Kingston is so sure of how solidly it is built they put 5 years behind it, then we have a tough outer shell that looks great and holds up the punishment it will face everyday with ease.
If you can handle the cost and want the absolute best USB Key you can get then there is nowhere else to look. The Kingston Data Traveler HyperX is nothing short of amazing!
Review segment as aired live 28 January 2012.
Buying for the geek in your life can be hard and we all know it. The typical geek gets what he wants when he wants it and the only things left on his Christmas list are usually items that are way outside our Christmas budgets. Our current economy has people being forced to cut spending costs so these items are even less possible to buy, but fear not Computer Ed is on the case. I have put together a list of a few items that can fit most budgets and will make any geek happy.
Mousing Surface: We have talked about these on the show and while they may not seem sexy they are something that geeks appreciate when it comes to getting the most out of their computing experience. There are a lot of them out there but only one that I would want under my tree. The WoW!Pad is ultrathin and made of the PVC material making it super durable. It is available in a few different sizes and ranges in price from $10 to $6 on Amazon. The WoW!Pad comes in a few different sizes and round as well as the normal squared look. Personally I have used the largest pad for a long time now and still love it. The WoW!Pad also comes in some interesting styles with the Master’s Series which have a number of great paintings on the pads. No cloth or thick bulking pad here, just clean durable mousing goodness.
USB Keys: No self respecting geek can ever have to many USB keys and my choice for years has been the Corsair Voyager line. This USB key is unique in that it has a rubber housing. This makes these drives incredibly durable. How durable you ask? In our initial testing of these drives on release the test drive worked perfectly after be dropped 12 stories, run over by a car, stepped on by your truly, washed three times in a row and chewed on by a dog. All of these tests where done to the save drive, so it was a cumulative effect and it still kept working. Currently you can pick up a USB 2.0 model with 16 gig for under $20 on Newegg. Eight gig models are consistently below $20 and up to 32 gig which can be had below $50. The entire lineup of Corsair Flash Voyager models can be found on Newegg, check them out.
Warming the Heart: I do not know anyone that does not have a person in their lives that is not always cold. You know the people I am talking about, they keep a space heater under their desk and even have it on low sometimes in the summer. They might be warm of heart but their hands and feet are always cold. Well we have something here to help the hands at least, USB Heating Gloves. These nifty little mitts have two heaters in each glove and are powered by the USB ports on your PC. The ends turn up to allow the fingers to type or can be turned down to allow for maximum hand warming. At a reasonable price of $22 these are a great gift that can be fun and practical for the female geek in house. However do not feel left out guys, there is a model for men as well. You can find these at usb.brando.com.
Boys Just Want To Have Fun: Yeah I know the song says girls but the truth is so do boys and nothing can be as fun for a guys as something wacky and militarily oriented. With that in mind bring to his desk his very own USB Rocket Launcher.
I know this gets talked about every year but seriously these are cool. Priced at under $20, you can find these at Think Geek and make the little boy in your geek really happy this year. The device needs batteries which is a bit of a bummer but can be controlled from the computer to rotate, aim and launch it’s foam warheads of fun across the room. These are great fun and your guy will love it, that is until mom gets hit in the head and then a disarmament is forced on you.
Light Up Their Life: Most geeks, especially gamers, seem to have this affinity to using their computers in darkened rooms. I know I have it and others I know prefer it as well. For me it stems from the fact that the screen pops more and lets me see my games details easier. Whatever the reason this is just a fact of life. The overhead lights of a room are just to much and often finding a small desk lamp is okay but difficult to get it to light just the area you want it. The good news is that there are a ton of USB lighting system out there from traditional desk lamps to flexible neck devices. These flexible lamps are great for laptops but I like them for some of the new mechanical keyboards. These can plug into the USB hub on something like a Steelseries or Thermaltake mechanical keyboard and give good lighting for those dark gaming sessions. USB lighting can be priced anywhere from $10 to around $30 but it comes in quite a few different styles, check out usb.bando.com for a wide selection.
Game On: Speaking of those dark night gaming sessions, lets face it we all have a gamer in our life. With our budgets like they are right now, many of the gamers we know out there have moved to the F2P models of gaming. While the game is free to play there are however always little items in game that the person might want to buy and getting the points for those items requires spending a little real cash. With this in mind a great gift for those gamers can be purchasing some of the game store points for them. These store point bundles can come in various price packages ranging from $10 to around $30. Some of the games will require you to do it through their site but some games like Wizard 101 have point cards available in stores.
Protecting the Smart Phone: Can you seriously say you know a geek that does not have a smart phone on their hip? If so you have found a species of geek that will be extinct in a few years. Today smart phones are the craze and we all seem to have them, we also all seem to drop them sooner or later as well. These are not just phones for us, they can often be our business or even more important our portable internet connection! With this in mind we should protect these investments and nothing says safe to your smart phone user like an Otterbox phone case.
These are the premier portable devices cases and while they are not the most inexpensive, they are the best protection your devices can have. Pricing can range from as low as $20 to as high as $75 depending on the device you want to protect and the level of protection you want to have. I have used these, and tested a few, they really are the best protection your phone can have bar none.
Check for these at your local cell service store, or if they do not have them then head over to the Otter Box site to look at their selection.
Gaming at the Next Level: Okay we have kept the budget under control a bit but sometimes it is better to get one uber gift than a lot of cool ones. If you have a budding gamer in your life there is a chance he is suffering from video card envy. The problem is modern PC games need some umph in their video card to really enjoy them and most budget cost PCs do not come with that umph. The good news is the video cards of today often pack some nice gaming power in a reasonably priced package. Video cards based on the AMD 6670 or the nVidia 550Ti can be had for the $100 to $130 price range. These will take a budget PC to a whole new world when it comes to gaming, allow for good gaming performance without breaking the bank. While you can get these cards locally I would suggest looking at sites like Amazon and Newegg first to get the best prices.
I could keep going, listed all sorts of other devices for the geek in your life but we only have so much time before Christmas and I do not want you to spend all that time reading a wall of text. The good news though is that you can make your geek happy this year without spending a lot of money. If you have geek gift questions be sure to email them in or call into the live show. Also listen to our show for more gift ideas over the next week. Of course be sure to keep listening and enter our holiday giveaway to maybe win something cool for your geek or like our Facebook page for a chance to win all year long.
Remember, the family geek is one of the most under appreciated people in the family, at least we feel that way often, take some time this Christmas to show you how much he means to you. Let him enjoy the new toys he gets this year before you ask him to make your work for you.