And I thought the G930's were awesome. Apparently I hadn't seen anything yet. Logitech's knack for making ideas better and, more importantly, spread out amongst other genre of electronics certainly shines through with their new Logitech Wireless Headset F540.
The Logitech Wireless Headset G930 was nearly a perfect headset, but the biggest flaw was that you couldn't use it for your Playstation or Xbox 360. For console worshipers (like myself) we were left in the dark to purchase crappy bluetooth and RF headsets that didn't remotely bring the comfort, durability and elegance of a G930. Ah, but things have changed.
Logitech recently released the F540 line, which is specifically made for the Playstation 3. Oh, yeah! It's also made for the Xbox 360. Wait! It's got a 3.5mm audio source so if you get a stereo to RCA adapter you can pretty much hook anything up to it that you want. Oh, happy days!
The F540 is eerily similar to the design of the G930, except for a few differences. The first is that all the wonderful customizable buttons that made us all happy on the G930 have been removed on the F540 with three simple ones on the side and two in the back. Starting with the side, you get a mute button, chat volume wheel and a headset volume wheel. On the back of the earpiece you get the power button and one of the coolest buttons out there, the input button. The input button allows you to switch between devices instantly and that's so damn nice.
Folks, I can't tell you how great it is to have an 'all-in-one' headset option for two of the biggest, most different consoles. Being able to turn off my Playstation 3, hit the input button to switch over to the Xbox 360 is worth the price of admission alone for this headset.
So how do you set this stuff up? Unlike the G930, which makes you hook up a USB dongle to the computer to use it, the F540 comes with a tiny base station that controls all the wireless functions. It is small enough to sit on your receiver or in your entertainment system and it's not tough to set-up at all. You've got one clearly labeled side, in the back, of the device for Playstation 3 RCA cables and one for the Xbox 360 (RCA as well). Next to those you get a nice input for a 3.5mm stereo cable. That's all there is for this device's input capabilities, which is just fine. Thanks to that 3.5mm audio input you can pretty much do what you want in terms of hooking up devices to the F540. It's a very useful option and one that you'll find creative ways to put to use.
Anyway, the device comes with a RCA-to-RCA passthrough cable in the box, which is an extremely interesting cable if you've never seen one. It is a typical RCA-to-RCA cable (both male), but on the back of one side of the RCA pair you get a female output pair that allows you to split the audio into another device. For example, if you wanted the capability of hearing FIFA Soccer 11 (great game, btw) through your headsets, but also through the television then you can do that. You might do that for viewers in the room, which does make sense. There's some reason why you would want such an option and Logitech merely gives you that option in case you need it. I'd rather have too many options from technology than not enough.
The only real caveat that I have with the F540 is the lack of an HDMI input. Granted, if you own a receiver then you can simply pass the HDMI sound through that and out from RCA cables into the F540; that works just fine. The big issue with all this is the Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 has been designed to force you to purchase more things to make it work the way you want it to work. For example, if you have an HDMI cable for the older Xbox 360 design and you wish to plug in RCA audio then all I have to say is, "Good luck!" Microsoft has designed the older systems to 'not' have the capability to use HDMI video with RCA audio. You have to purchase a specially made cable to get this sort of satisfaction.
The lack of HDMI does hurt this a bit, but at the same time, at least for the Playstation 3, you have the ability to split the HDMI and RCA. Honestly speaking the HDMI purists out there wouldn't get much from HDMI audio wirelessly anyway.
So what options do HD seekers have for the Xbox 360? Well, you can use component instead of HDMI, which may or may not be possible. Most televisions have component and HDMI these days, but there are a few that don't. With the component hook up ability you can get a 1080(i) picture and two wonderful RCA cables. Don't like this option? Feel free to complain to Microsoft about their system design (apologies, they are a bit frustrating on this particular design of their system).
Once you get the base station installed and your systems hooked up the rest of it is pretty darn easy. One of the coolest things, and cool only because I'm a huge nerd, is that you can hook up the headsets to the front of the base station via USB to charge them when they need it. I charged these suckers overnight and I haven't really charged them since. They last a long time (through Medal of Honor and three seasons of Slings & Arrows)
The functionality of the F540 is where the device truly shines. Not only does it pretty much cancel out noise around you, but it also confines most of the audio you hear to your ears. That's not to say that when you're in the middle of a firefight in the mountains of Afghanistan in Medal of Honor that people won't hear the explosions or what not. You can be guaranteed that most of what you hear is going to be strictly reserved for your pleasure only.
This type of audio confinement is great especially when you start chatting online. The first night I had fired up Medal of Honor (Monday of this week) I was very fortunate to have this audio confinement. I have never heard so much language coming out of actual editors. With some of my kids in the room I was fortunate that they didn't hear any of it and I thank Logitech for that. They've created a comfortable design that keeps most of the audio within their comfortable padding.
Sticking with chatting, the chat feature for these puppies is unbelievably good. It's very smooth, virtually no static to deal with at all and it's spot on the first time around. It's also noise-canceling, which means you're going to be heard clearly and cleanly through your mic. So when the 10-year old is yelling at you and calling you 'n00b' and more obscene things, you can rest assure that your rebuttal of, "Well, at least I've kissed a girl that wasn't named 'mom'" will be heard loud and proud. Another neat thing about the mic is that when you have it out, it's on; when you have it vertical, it's off. When it's on you get a clear 'beep' sound, which says, "Hey! I'm online with ya."
Other things that you should know about the device include range. The first night I was playing with this headset I was playing FIFA Soccer 11. Somewhere at the beginning of it I was called downstairs to help with laundry. Thankfully, I hadn't started a match, but I was enjoying the euro-techno sounds and I really didn't want to break from that enjoyment. So, being the good husband that I was, I kept the headphones on and made my way to the downstairs basement to help fold clothes. The distance between my television and my wife folding laundry was somewhere around 60-70 feet. Take into account that I had to travel downstairs, which adds another layer for the signal to travel through. The result of this attempt to keep entertainment flowing? There wasn't one bit of interruption with my tunes! I had anticipated the signal drop briefly somewhere along the way, but it never did. It kept playing the music as if I was at a rave in Berlin, which was extremely impressive.
So in the end does the F540 work well? Yes, it does. I found absolutely no problems with this device. It worked like advertised. The sound was clear, the setup was easy and having the ability to switch between devices is just a complete gem. The only reason you might have doubts comes back to that HDMI question, but at the end of the day it's no big deal. If you can acquire the additional device for the 360 and you can simply change a setting on your Playstation 3 then you're going to be in audio heaven. The F540 is just as good as the G930 headsets and in some ways a little bit more flexible. Almost every audio/video device known to man can be hooked up in some way to RCA/3.5mm stereo inputs, so this devices works with your a/v imagination; if it hooks up via RCA/3.5mm then you can probably use it with the F540.
With all this said the $149.99 pricetag you get with this isn't that bad at all. If you paid for headsets (decent ones) you would have to start at around $59.99 already. Having a single pair work with the PS3 and 360, plus anything that hooks up via 3.5mm is a no-brainer. Add all of that with the ability to chat, as well.