When a product takes well over a full year to go from introduction to release, it's natural for consumer expectations to amp themselves up a notch or two. Such is the case with Razer's Chimaera, an Xbox 360-centric wireless gaming headset that was initially teased at CES 2010, and just started shipping to end users early this year. The company's been in the gaming headset business for some time now -- if you'll recall, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the (wired) Carcharias headset right around two years back. This 2.1 system promises to give Xbox Live yappers exactly what they've been waiting for, but is it really worth the $129.99 entry fee? Head on past the break for our take.
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Razer Chimaera wireless Xbox 360 headset hands-on

Razer

Chimaera

Pros

  • Simple to setup
  • Great wireless performance
  • Fold-down microphone

Cons

  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Too huge for normal heads
Summary

For all intents and purposes, the Chimaera is a pretty simple product. There's a wireless base station with a 3.5mm audio input jack, a 3.5mm microphone output port, a sync button (not unlike the Wiimote situation you deal with on a daily basis) and a standby button. Upon unboxing 'em, you'll probably spend the first ten minutes trying to figure out where a pair of rechargeable AAA batteries (included, phew!) are to be inserted. Here's a tip: rip the panel from the earcup that lacks a microphone. You'll thank us.

The sync process is a lot easier, and while the charging stand is hardly childproof (a simple bump will have your headset tumbling), it serves the purpose without being too unsightly. The headset itself, unfortunately, is both heavy and intimidating. And by that, we mean large. Having ample padding around the top edge and on the ear cups is certainly appreciated, but unless you have a rather sizable noggin, you'll most likely wonder how on Earth to adjust the band down. We've never had any issues with the sizing on any prior headset, but the Chimaera essentially swallowed our head, and with no way to extend the band tighter (there's only ten notches of extension -- you know, for Goliath's intense gaming sessions), we were left in an uncomfortable pinch.


In all seriousness, we'd recommend stopping by a retail shop and trying these on before buying -- it's hard to imagine them not being too large for a huge swath of people. In an attempt to make the most of it, we kept 'em loosely draped around our skull for a bit of gaming, and while the wireless performance was stellar, we found the 3.5mm headphone input to be (also) a bit on the large side. We tried three different cables, and all of them just felt a wee bit loose. No connection troubles were noticed, but it still managed to get under our skin. Audio quality was above-average for wireless gaming headsets, but these certainly won't be your go-to cans when it comes time to sink back into a sofa and enjoy an album. The lows were definitely accentuated, likely to enhance explosions often felt in first-person shooters, and we're guessing that everything's equalized to best suit movies and games, not music.

The fold-down boom mic was perfectly positioned, and our chats soared through loud and clear; we couldn't help but long for a USB connection option in order to use this as a Skype headset in a pinch, but alas, no such luck. All told, the Chimaera feels like a solid product that wasn't exactly executed to perfection -- the large, bulky design turned us off right away, and the shoddy 3.5mm input didn't do much to rebuild that lost confidence. At $129.99, you've simply too many other options from the likes of Turtle Beach and SteelSeries (just to name a couple), and unless your cranium is larger than most, you'll probably have no choice but to pass this one by.

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Razer Chimaera wireless Xbox 360 headset review