REVIEWS | December 1st, 2005
The Speedlink Thebe2 Headset Review

The Speedlink Thebe2 SL-8736 Headset is a multimedia headset, compliant with franchises such as MSN, Skype, as well as the WCG (World Cyber Games), which is the e-sports equivalent to the Olympics.

Although many headsets also carry this price tag, this is one of the few to provide the padded ear-cup set up which is synonymous among the more professional gaming headsets.

Microphone: 9*7/ 58dB
Loudhailer: 40mm
Impedence: 1kHz : 32 Ohm
Sensitivity: 110dB
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Cable length: c. 2m

Following the sporadic and unexpected failure of my perfectly good Altec Lansing AHS502i Headset, I was forced to search for a new replacement to my faithful headset. In order to economise on computer expenses, I decided to order the Speedlink Thebe2 SL-8736 Headset.

Unfortunately, little did I know that I got exactly what I paid for. While the Thebe2 headset costs nearly half the price of my Altec Lansing AHS502i, it also comes at half the quality, maybe a tad more.

Surprisingly, the headset?s jacks are actually gold-plated for faster transfer, a feature that the AHS502i didn?t come with. The gold-plating, however, is the only better feature of this headset. The packaging is also convenient, as it comes in an easy-to-open cardboard box, which however makes the purchase all the less safe.

The Thebe2 Headset is built with a ?leather?-coated bridge that joins the two ear-pieces together, both of which padded. The headset is said to have great comfort, however I found that the bridge was too long and flat, hence the headset seems to be designed for people with smaller, flatter heads. As my head qualifies under neither category, I found the headset to be quite uncomfortable on the head. On the other hand, the speakers are very loosely fitting, meaning that no pressure is placed on the ear, something that I greatly welcome after having my ears squashed and deformed by the AHS502i. The ear-piece comfort allows for longer hours of usage, but comes at a price ? since the ear-pieces are loosely fitting, they allow outer sounds to penetrate. Fortunately, only a minute percentage of external ambient noise actually does penetrate, and the amount of penetration depends on the headset?s fit.

Thankfully, the cable connecting the headset to the computer is thick and sturdy. The cable is slightly short, and over larger installations and furniture, such brevity in wire-length means that the cable will often end up coming in the way, or worse, over the keyboard, restricting typing. The volume-control unit that is built into the cable is also tiny and cheaply manufactured. The remote itself is small, and volume is controlled through rolling horribly tiny plastic wheel which is stiff. To make matters worse, unlike the Altec Lansing AHS502i, the remote isn?t equipped with a volume control function for microphone output. This means that the microphone itself cannot be muted manually, but only through software. The same case applies to controlling your microphone?s outbound sound. Therefore unless you use a Push-to-Talk key, all sound will be transmitted through the overly sensitive microphone while you?re away, or chatting to someone near you. This, of course, can be particularly annoying if you?re running a RAM-heavy application or a game, as you?ll have to minimise if you wish to mute.

The overall material quality of the headset is quite cheap. The colour from part of the headset actually wore off onto my hand as I handled it! The plastic is rough and uncut in some areas, suggesting that the overall finishing of the product wasn?t given much importance. Also, both ear-cups have the same opening for the line-in and microphone wire.

Soundwise, the Thebe2 Headset provides a satisfactory standard of sound, which although quite thinny makes the headset good for office use, listening to music, movie-making, composing etc? Unfortunately, the sound of the headset is very 2-Dimensional, and isn?t by far, the most appropriate choice for gaming, despite its endorsement by the World Cyber Games (where Speedlink are the official supplier). A sound test performed using the XEAR 3-D sound package proved that the sound coming from this headset is completely flat, and doesn?t immerse you one bit. It is a headset best catered for flat-headed people who require a headset for chatting, casual gaming and other multimedia usage. Furthermore, the sound is louder on one side than on the other, bringing unbalance to the whole setup unless it is reconfigured. Serious gamers and people into high-quality sound had best purchase a 5.1 Surround Headset.

Summary

+ Sturdy Cabling
– Slightly short Cable
– Very Cheap Material Quality and finishing
– Badly designed ? cannot fit the head well
+ Relatively cheap
+ Fairly good standard for the quality of sound
+ Easily opened packaging?
– ?Which makes the product very unsafe
– Comfort can be very inconsistent, depending on how the headset fits
– Volume control remote is shoddy
– Somewhat disappointing microphone output quality that records muffled sounds
+ Good choice for casual multimedia usage

Marking Scheme

Sound Quality 7/10
Clarity of Sound Output 9/10
Material Quality 4/10
Overall design 6/10
Range of Volume 10/10
Value for Money 8/10 (well, I DID get sound out of this one)
Overall 6/10

was reviewed by Videogamepeople.com and rated at 6 /10
"Not Bad"
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