Plantronics is working to capture a bigger piece of the gaming-headset market, and it’s launching a new wireless audio device with insane battery life to compete.
After announcing the PlayStation VR-compatible Rig 4VR, Plantronics also revealed the new Rig 800 headset that comes in models for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The 800 is a wireless over-the-ear headphone unit with 24 hours of battery life. That puts it well ahead of competition from Razer and Astro, which have devices that last around 15 hours. Plantronics is selling the Rig 800 for $150 in the fall, and it is hoping to capture a segment of consumers who want to drop the wires and upgrade their gameplay audio without having to think a lot about battery life.
“We’re talking about marathon wireless gaming,” Plantronics esports boss Corey Rosemond told GamesBeat during a chat last month. “It’s a lightweight headset relative to what you usually see, and we can get the efficiency of 24-hour battery life.”
Rig is Plantronics line of gaming headsets, and they all feature modular design. This means that the 800 already has several different add-ons and alternative materials that players can swap in to personalize their listening and wearing experience.
On top of that, Rosemond worked with Sony and Microsoft to get official licensing for both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which means that the device is wireless for both systems.
“It’ll just work,” he said.
That different than some previous headsets from a number of manufacturers that have required special dongles to function with the new consoles. At the $150, Plantronics is leaving out features like virtual 7.1 surround sound, which is what you’ll get from some of the more expensive alternatives. But the company thinks that most people won’t miss that — especially when they’re getting extended battery life instead.
“You have a lot of simulated surround taking place on the console side versus,” said Rosemond. “But we wanted to make something that would be widely compatible, widely available, and hit the right price point first and foremost.”
Although the esports boss did point out that his team is always looking at where it can bring in the latest audio technology, and that includes some upcoming improvements to virtual surround sound on consoles.
Plantronics has broken into a competitive market when it comes to gaming headsets, but the company is not some audio-technology rookie. It has years of experience building specific equipment for demanding customers, like the United States military. With that in its history, the company is ready to battle it out with Astro and others for the affection of gamers around the world.
“I feel like we were truly innovating and leveraging our strengths as a multi-segment headset company,” said Rosemond. “We’re deriving our expertise and best practices from military, aviation, enterprise, across the board — even our consumer non-gaming businesses – to come up with some unique technologies that enable us to meet the needs of our customers, like 24-hour battery life.”