SDCC 2011: NOX Audio’s Admiral Touch-Screen Headset Impressions

August 9, 2011 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook SDCC 2011: NOX Audio’s Admiral Touch-Screen Headset Impressionson Twitter

We’re still wrapping things up from Comic Con a few weekends ago, and thought the touch-screen enabled Admiral headset from NOX Audio was one of the strangest things we saw at the show (yes, even more strange than some of the cosplayers).

We’ve talked about last year’s Specialist headset and Scout earphones, each with their own unique design elements, but NOX Audio is working full-throttle on the Admiral headset, a unique beast equipped with a touch screen and Wi-Fi capabilities.

Is it worth your attention, or just a gimmick? Find out after the jump.

The picture above really tells you a lot about what this headset promises. The idea of a touch screen powered by the Android OS opens up all sorts of possibilities. You’ll be able to download applications directly to your headset which had my imagination running with ideas of a music store to buy music directly from your headset and streaming radio apps like Pandora Radio and Slacker Radio. While I noted that it may be kind of strange having to remove the headset from your head to access the apps, the touch screen acts as a fast volume and play control while on your head, allowing you to swipe up or down for volume changes or forward or backward to move between tracks in your playlist.

That gets to the next feature, however, which is its connectivity. Via a base station, the Admiral can connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to stream audio. From there, it can connect to nearly every device imaginable, from your home stereo to your consoles to your PC. This is really a key feature for me as I’m tired of the massive amount of cabling and wall sockets that some other multi-purpose headsets we’ve reviewed require. I’m also excited about being able to stream my music from iTunes on my PC directly to my headset anywhere in the house (or potentially the anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi connection). You’ll also be able to host files directly on the headset with its 8 GB of memory, which will be expandable to 32 GB.

On to the sound. We heard a brief demonstration, and I was satisfied with the sound. I wasn’t blown away, but this was a prototype unit, so it’s possible they’re still working on this. The headset boasts 7.1 surround sound and will come preloaded with presets for gaming, music, etc. Oh, and there’s a T-Pain Effect that they’re promoting with the microphone that you can annoy all your friends with.

Then we get to the all-important design. Most consumers aren’t going to notice minute differences in sound quality among different headsets, and while the functionality above is a main selling point for this headset, design is often a distinguishing factor. Again, we were looking at a prototype unit of the Admiral, and it was a little less than admirable. It looks very industrial with lots of metal design elements and metal knobs on each earphone. The fact that the touch screen was replaced with a sheet metal casing made the prototype very heavy, and it kept sliding down my head and creating an uncomfortable weight distribution. Even with the adjustments maxed out to cling to my head, the weight of the earphones still maintained this pressure. I was assured that this would be fixed in the final version, however, and I have every reason to believe that next time we see the Admiral it will be much more comfortable.

The headset is due out in 2012, and despite some of the design issues of the prototype unit, I’m optimistic that this can be a really cool device. I’m still slightly skeptical about the need to remove the headset from your head to access the touch screen and the fact that it requires a base station to connect the networks (this would make it difficult to connect to the network at, say, Starbucks), but I’m excited about the prospect of using it in my home.

What do you think of Nox Audio’s Admiral headset? Do you think it’s something to watch out for next year?

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