Nox Audio Admiral Touch preview: the wireless noise-canceling surround headset with Android 2.1

Nox Audio's brought a couple clever concepts to market before, but the Admiral Touch headset is something else -- a set of stainless steel cans with most every high-end feature we can think of, and one in particular that's never been done before. Yes, that's a 2.4-inch touchscreen color LCD embedded in the right earcup, running Android 2.1 on an ARM11 chip with 1GB flash storage and 256MB of RAM -- on top of a set of noise-canceling, 7.1 virtual surround sound wireless headphones that connect via both 2.4GHz and Bluetooth simultaneously. There's not much to do with the tiny Android at present, as its only launcher screen holds just four icons that change the headset's mode, but we're told it might be hackable later on (there is a microSD slot and a USB cord), and in the meantime it supports touchscreen gesture controls for volume and swapping tracks. Believe it or not, we've just started to describe the features, so hit the break for more.

Speaking of controls, they're cleverly built into the frame here, just like with the Nox products we've seen before -- one of the silver aluminum dials on the hinge is a volume knob, another holds the power button, while the other two are actually covers for a removable, rechargeable standard-size 18650 lithium-ion battery good for about six hours on a charge. There's also a retractable aluminum mic that pulls straight out. Also, get this: if you place them on your neck and flip the comfortable memory-foam-packed earcups out, they automatically boost the volume by 16dB and change the equalizer to sound just as loud as when you had them on. While the Admiral sadly doesn't have a standard USB socket, but rather a proprietary eight-pin port, Nox explained it allows a breakout cable to physically connect to standard audio sources too.

Truth be told, the actual audio quality of the prototype headset didn't blow us off our feet in Nox's sound-resistant box on the show floor -- the 58mm drivers didn't have loads of bass, but sounded pleasant through the mid-range and with fairly convincing virtual surround sound (Nox says it's presently in talks with Dolby to get Pro Logic and Dolby Headphone). There's plenty of time to work on those lows and highs, though, as Nox told us the package isn't scheduled to ship until quite late this year. The company wasn't talking price, but said there will actually be three SKUs: a lower-end Admiral without the touchscreen Android, a higher-end Admiral Touch with it, and an Android module that upgrades the low-end model to be virtually identical. They'll come with a wireless base station to connect to PCs and audio components, and the company's considering packing the whole kit in a hardshell case that doubles as a charging dock. There will even be a wireless dongle you can slap on your Xbox 360 controller to integrate the Xbox Live microphone. We can't wait to try it all out.

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City of Industry, Calif.– Jan. 4, 2011 – NOX Audio is set to unleash an audio revolution with its Admiral and Admiral Touch, the first TruWireless (trademark pending) headsets, scheduled to debut in late 2011. Featuring 7.1-channel surround sound with mobile Bluetooth® and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Admiral and Admiral Touch enable full wireless audio and communication on game consoles for the first time. In addition to these features, the Admiral Touch also will include a 2.4-inch LCD touch screen with gesture control, powered by Google's Android™ operating system – a never-before-seen feature in a headset. A functional prototype of the Admiral Touch will be unveiled at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nev., from Jan. 6-9, 2011.

Powered by the Android OS, the Admiral Touch takes full advantage of available streaming music including Pandora, and VoIP applications such as MSN chat and Skype, thanks to its built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. With 7.1-channel digital surround sound, the Admiral and Admiral Touch create an immersive experience for playing video games, listening to music and watching movies, as well as crisp, clear audio for phone calls, making it the only truly wireless headset available on the market. Featuring rotating ear-cups that double as a loudspeaker, both headsets will offer maximum versatility and compatibility with PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PCs, personal music players such as the iPod, home theaters and cell phones and all other electronic devices with a standard 3.5 mm jack and/or any devices with built-in bluetooth. A removable and rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides more than five hours of battery life for optimal usage with any compatible product.

"When NOX was developing the Admiral, we considered all available technology to create a truly revolutionary – yet easy-to-use – product that pushes the limits and takes headset listening to a new level, for an attainable price," said Julie Ma, president of NOX Audio. "In addition to giving the Admiral high-quality audio reproduction and 7.1-channel surround sound, we included a 'Touch' version with the functionality of the Android OS to make the headset truly versatile. The Admiral is a product like no other, and CES is the perfect venue for us to introduce it to the public."

NOX will unveil a functional prototype of the Admiral Touch at CES 2011 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, booth #5438. The Admiral Touch will be shown by appointment only, in addition to NOX's other products, the Specialist, Negotiator and Scout, which will be available in listening stations on the show floor. NOX also will be hosting DJ Envy, the "Mixtape Master," at CES on Friday, Jan. 7 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. PST in the NOX booth. DJ Envy is available for interviews on a first-come, first-serve basis before and after his performances at 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.