Review: SteelSeries Siberia V2 USB Gaming Headset

This is a comprehensive consumer review of the SteelSeries Siberia V2 (USB Edition) – Gaming Headset. This is my attempt to deliver a comprehensive opinion and comparison with other headsets I have owned in the past.

I will go over what makes a good gaming headset: sound, build quality, microphone, and price. From my experience purchasing headsets over the past few years, it’s overloaded with oft poor quality products that tend to either break easily, or simply cease to work after a few months of regular use.

I’ve owned Logitech, Creative, Corsair and now my first SteelSeries headset. I use a headset on a daily basis, most often for several hours at a time, so I need them to be comfortable and require for my sound to work optimally at all times. Does the SteelSeries Siberia V2 achieve that? Let’s find out.

SteelSeries Siberia V2

Cyanogen Mod 9 (Android 4.0.4) on SGS1

A little more than a year ago, I went on Craigslist to look for an Android smartphone at a decent price. I managed to get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S Captivate. It came with Android 2.3. My friend had told me about how one could ‘root’ the device and truly make it your own. Shortly thereafter, I looked into CyanogenMod 7.1. Fired it up and it changed everything about the phone.

CM7.1 was merely an improvement on Android 2.3 (known as Gingerbread). The UI was still somewhat sluggish when compared to the likes of Apple’s iOS. With the release of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) right around the corner, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Sadly, Samsung refused to update the Galaxy S1 to 4.0. They claimed that the hardware simply could not handle it (which is a lie). My assumption behind this move was simply to boost sales on their newer devices, forcing owners that wanted the “new and upgraded Android” to buy a new device altogether. It was a frustrating move, but not unheard of in the modern day tech industry.

This is where the genius of the Android community really kicked in for me. A team of programmers called teamhacksung ripped Android 4.0 from the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and tweaked it to function on the Galaxy S1. They updated it constantly up until last March 2012. [See the thread here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1363760]

The teamhacksung version intended to be the ALPHA of CyanogenMod 9. Thus, today, I went over to the CyanogenMod website and downloaded a Nightly build of CM9 (that was updated today). I also had to download the latest Google Apps package for CM9 (download here).

I just installed it on my phone a few hours ago, and it is working magnificently, improving over the last ALPHA of teamhacksung. Note that it could be faster at times, but for a single-core smartphone, it’s handling Android 4.0.4 just fine.

As I tweak and fiddle around with the CM9 customization option, I will be eagerly waiting for CyanogenMod to release their spin off of Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). As soon as it is available, I will test it out and share the details. (Updated!)

CyanogenMod 9 Cid

Cid: The new CyanogenMod mascot! Click on the image for more info on Cid.

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First impressions: Fedora 17 (Linux Distro)

I have very little experience with Linux distributions. A few years ago, I installed Ubuntu on my laptop. For the longest time, I could not get the WiFi to work, rendering the OS pretty much obsolete. The issue was related to Broadcom not providing open source drivers for their wireless cards, until late 2010.

Then I upgraded to the latest Ubuntu version in 2011 and Unity came around. And I didn’t like it at all. So I decided to part with Ubuntu and start looking at the other distros that were available. I gave Linux Mint 11 a shot. While it was fairly straight forward to use and came packed with the average end user would need, it also had issues of its own.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to change my main account’s privileges. Mint did not like that, and simply stopped behaving as intended, throwing the most cryptic error messages at boot, erasing all my files and folders. A friend of mine, David, had been bashing Mint every since I had gotten it, and after trying to do a clean install of Mint 12 to no avail, I figured I’d try something new. Perhaps David was right; there were better Distros out there.

After some Googl-ing around, I found Fedora. Downloaded the latest version (Fedora 17), put it on a USB using the tool provided by Fedora, and installed it on my laptop. And quite frankly, so far not only does it feel more polished than Mint, it also looks nicer than Ubuntu.

I had to work out some of its quirks, but getting the WiFi to function normally wasn’t too difficult. Its interface truly differentiates itself from the competition. Namely Windows and Mac OS. Though it shares similarities with both of them, it feels like the best of both worlds for free. I’m very fond of the ‘Activities’ panel, and the way it allows to easily switch between multiple desktop environments and windows. Gnome 3 is extremely responsive in Fedora 17. Ubuntu’s Unity felt like a very restrictive UI element. It took too much of the screen’s real estate, too often. But there’s a great balance between the fancy and the practical in Fedora 17.

Anyhow, I want to use it for a little bit longer before I write my full “review”. But so far, so good!

Good Bye Corsair Headsets, Hello SteelSeries Siberia V2

The Corsair Vengeance 1500 isn’t a bad headset by any standard. Virtual 7.1 Surround sound, very comfortable, easy to use, great sound quality for gaming and good for music. All that I was looking for. I really loved this thing for a while. Until, short of 6 months of use, the microphone stopped working. Two days later, I couldn’t hear anything either. It went from being the best headset I’ve owned, to just another RMA. Mind you, this isn’t my first Cosrair headset. I had the HS1, and while it was great too, the right earcup stopped functioning after 6-7 months as well.

Sadly, I had a similar experience with most of the headsets I’ve purchased in my life time, but the Vengeance 1500 and the HS1 were the two best headsets I had gotten thus far.

After two dead headsets from Corsair, I decided I should give a shot to another company. For headset power users, the market is convoluted with gimmicky hardware that’s priced anywhere from $20 to $400. And the price doesn’t ensure it won’t break after the first year of use. So finding the right headset is tricky. And maybe the SteelSeries Siberia V2 isn’t going to be the one. But I’m giving it a shot. At around a $100 for the USB version, it seems like a decent contender to the Vengeance 1500 and the other headsets on the market in that same price range ($80 – $130).

Right before I was heading off to work, UPS stopped by and dropped off my package from Amazon. I’ll be doing a personal review of the SteelSeries Siberia V2 (USB) some time next week, mostly comparing it with what the headsets I have had in the past.