Friday, July 11, 2008

Metal Gear Solid 4 (MGS4) Bluetooth headset review

Well here it is. Somehow I finally got my grubby hands on Konami's Metal Gear Solid 4 milk-it till death merchandise. Manufactured by a no-name company that nobody has ever heard off (Performance Designed Products) the official MGS4 Bluetooth headset design is based on Metal Gears Mk.II mecha. And no, you can't use it to Codec Meryl.

My first impression was that the headset is huge. Combined with the universal ear loop, this headset was designed for people who want to be noticed. The backside contains the earpiece which unlike most modern Bluetooth headsets, isn't an in-ear piece. Wearing the plastic headset proved to be both cumbersome although I wouldn't classify it as uncomfortable. It is also pretty heavy, for a headset. As far as aesthetics goes, I love the design but utterly dislike the rubbery ear loop and overall size and weight of the device. The Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Tactical Espionage Action silkscreen seems tacky too, but is small enough not to be an eyesore.

Pairing it with my E51 is easy as it gets and I won't trouble you with procedures on how to do so. Inside the headset contains the latest Bluetooth specs, at 2.0. Operating the headset is easy enough. There are a total of three buttons on the headset, the power button and two volume buttons that doubles as a mute button. A cool multi-purpose LED strip adorns the side of the headset that changes colours depending on the status of the headset. A proprietary USB cable connects through the backside to charge it (the battery isn't replaceable). The headset (like every other generic headset) is compatible with the majority of Bluetooth enabled mobile phones as well as the PS3 for in-game voice chatting.

That Metal Gear design won't help it if it isn't backed up by a quality microphone and sound driver, and unfortunately none of Otacon's electronic expertise were used when designing this headset (apart from lifting the design of Metal Gear Mk. II). It isn't as hopeless as some has described but the quality isn't on par with say, the A2DP-enabled Sony headset I got some months ago (which is half the price of this). The microphone in particular is susceptible to picking up echos and ambient noise, which resulted in minor complaints from my recipient. I understand that this is no Jawbone, but at the very least it should have a variable microphone gain or one that performs well. But it is workable and isn't as rubbish as some have claimed. I am unable to test the rated 8 hour talk time (come on, I am not that sad).

All in all, I can't endorse the MGS4 Bluetooth headset except to the most hardened collector or fan, at least not at the current price (maybe at £20 as a niche product). I really do love the design but unfortunately its size, weight and more importantly performance relative to its price, leaves much to be desired. If Konami had contracted a more reputable manufacturer like Jabra (whom Sony bundled one of their Bluetooth model with Warhawk) rather than a company that makes sleeves for Wiimotes, then perhaps things may have turned out different. Right now the only thing I can highly recommend about Metal Gear Solid 4 is the game itself.

Perhaps a Subsistence version Konami? One with enough substance.


Anonymous said...

This is designed by PDP and manufactured by i-tech, a Hong Kong company that makes Bluetooth headsets. You can buy their headsets in most high street phone stores, most of which are budget headsets. The lack of quality isn't surprising considering their own products aren't the best performing on the market.

Jon Choo said...

Hmm... Well I can't comment about i-tech since I've never used their products. Their BT headset at Orange costs only £20 though.