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HP Omen Mindframe review: The ear-cooling gaming headset that left me cold

HP Omen Mindframe review: The ear-cooling gaming headset that left me cold

The factor I really like most concerning the HP Omen Mindframe is its identify. Say it with me. MINDFRAME. It’s so ridiculous it’s truly come full circle into pure, unbridled brilliance, and I doubt there will probably be one other headset within the historical past of gaming headsets that even comes near matching its mad, bonkers moniker.

The HP Omen Mindframe’s identify isn’t the one factor that units this headset aside, although. By means of some type of thermoelectric magic, every earcup additionally has their very own devoted ear cooler. That’s proper. In case you’re the kind of one that recurrently finds their ears getting a bit sweaty after enjoying video games all afternoon, the Mindframe will halt these salty droplets of their tracks and maintain your ears good and chilly. And surprisingly, it actually does work.

It’s fairly a cumbersome headset general, seemingly greater and bulkier than a lot of its non-ear-cooling competitors, however a big a part of that’s right down to its suspension headband slightly than the dimensions of its earcups. It’s an identical concept to our greatest gaming headset champion, the Steelseries Arctis 7, however whereas the Arctis 7 makes use of a skinny, elastic, material-based design, the Mindframe goes all in with a second faux-leather headband that springs up and down to offer some adjustment. This finally ends up making it really feel extra substantial than the Arctis, and subsequently much less travel-friendly in consequence.

Not that you simply’re going to be out and about a lot with the Mindframe, as not solely is that this a USB headset, making it ill-suited to something however your PC or laptop computer, however its RGB LEDs across the Omen emblem and enormous, fold-down microphone even have a excessive chance of creating you look a tad foolish until you’re probably the most confident, on-the-go laptop-er.

Now, I’m usually the primary individual to advocate using suspension headbands. As somebody who frequently suffers from headset pinching after 30-odd minutes of use, suspension designs are all the time much more snug and simpler to put on than people who depend on extreme cushioning and reams of reminiscence foam to cease their heavy frames from urgent down in your previous noggin.

The Mindframe, nevertheless, merely doesn’t do fairly sufficient for these with barely smaller heads like myself. That is problematic, for whereas the scarf itself was fairly cozy for probably the most half, the earcups had a nasty behavior of hanging only a bit too low towards my jawline, making it really feel like my mouth was in some type of vice. I think these with bigger craniums in all probability gained’t have this drawback, however it’s disappointing nonetheless, as I hoped the Mindframe was going to be simply as nice to put on because the Arctis 7. Alas, it appears it was to not be.

Nonetheless, when it comes to audio high quality, the HP Omen Mindframe is fairly respectable. Its digital 7.1 encompass sound (which is a everlasting fixture, by the best way, as there’s no solution to flip it into a daily stereo headset utilizing HP’s Omen Command Centre app) offered a superb sense of area once I booted up Doom, for instance, and all of the environmental element rang by way of loud and clear, from the flickering flames of the UAC’s burning wreckage to the screeches and shrieks of the resident demon inhabitants. The bass wasn’t too overpowering when the sport’s pumping battle music kicked in, both, and the blasts of my Tremendous Shotgun nonetheless sounded pleasingly weighty because it ripped via the squelching flesh of my prey.

Equally, Remaining Fantasy XV‘s hovering orchestral music sounded fantastic on the Mindframe, with battle cries and monster yelps completely balanced towards the sharp strings and taut percussion.

It was solely once I received to Hellblade, nevertheless, that I began to see some cracks within the Mindframe’s efficiency. Hellblade makes use of a binaural soundtrack, in any case, which is supposed to simulate a exact 3D soundscape that precisely captures sounds each close to and much away. Within the recreation, that is very important to putting these all necessary voices inside Senua’s head, and a very good headset will make it really feel like they’re all within the room with you, whipping round behind you as they jeer and snipe on the again of your neck.

The Mindframe, nevertheless, merely separated out Senua’s inside voices to the suitable and left-ear cup, turning what ought to have been an all-encompassing soundtrack right into a somewhat bizarre stereo one. Every voice nonetheless got here by means of loud and clear, however the impact was utterly ruined.

Considering again to my earlier check video games, I then realised the Mindframe had executed the identical factor in Doom as nicely. On the time, I assumed it was doing a reasonably respectable job with its numerous positional sound results akin to hearth ball lobs or plasma hearth, however loading the sport up once more revealed that each sound was leaping fairly violently between every ear cup as an alternative of transitioning easily from one to the opposite. I simply didn’t discover it fairly a lot as a result of the sport’s so fast-paced.

Nonetheless, whereas the Mindframe can in all probability nearly get away with this type of factor in heated motion video games, it’s out of the query for slower, extra ponderous video games like Hellblade and consequently finally ends up limiting the headset’s general attraction. I think that is in all probability one thing to do with its everlasting digital 7.1 encompass sound gubbins, as different headsets I’ve examined prior to now additionally wrestle with Hellblade once I’ve had these things switched on. As I discussed earlier, although, there’s no solution to flip it off on the Mindframe, as the one controls you have got within the Omen Command Centre app are for the lighting and ear-cooling. That’s it. No EQ settings, no ‘truly I’d wish to pay attention in common stereo now, thanks’. Nothing.

I additionally wasn’t notably enamoured with the on-earcup quantity management, both. It in all probability didn’t assist that it had truly damaged on my specific assessment pattern by the point it arrived with me – the little twisly knob having come utterly unstuck from its little alcove – however even once I’d managed to press it again into place, the tactile sensation of rolling it spherical underneath my fingers was simply horrible. By some means it managed to really feel each frictionless and gritty on the similar time, and it additionally felt on the verge of simply sliding proper out from its little nook.

I need to admit, I used to be stunned once I noticed glue marks on the within of the quantity knob, as regardless of the earcups retaining your ears good and funky, they do get fairly toasty on the surface. Now I used to be by no means excellent at science once I was at college, however my intestine tells me that glue and warmth are by no means an excellent mixture for long-term construct high quality.

I used to be additionally mildly alarmed to learn within the Mindframe’s personal instruction guide that I ought to repeatedly wipe its internal ear cups with a material to take away any extra condensation. I didn’t discover this once I previewed it at Gamescom, however positive sufficient, once I took it off after a few hours use, every earcup had a visual quantity of moisture inside them. That is in all probability as a result of the thermoelectric jiggery pokery works by drawing warmth away out of your ears, however it clearly isn’t excellent at dispelling it if this can be a recognized drawback the consumer has to cope with frequently.

I’d be extra nervous if HP hadn’t talked about it within the Mindframe’s instruction guide, nevertheless it doesn’t precisely instil a lot confidence within the general longevity of the headset – a minimum of to not me, anyway. Positive, the earcups are supposed to be made from moisture-wicking material, however that’s of little use when all of it collects on the metallic speaker grille above the driving force.

There’s rather a lot to love about HP Omen’s ear-cooling tech, however extra moisture undoubtedly isn’t excessive up on the record.

It’s a disgrace, actually, as the feeling of getting your ears cooled is absolutely fairly nice. It’s utterly silent, so it doesn’t intrude with no matter you’re enjoying, and I didn’t really feel almost as grotty once I took it off after I’d completed enjoying. I’m simply unsure I’d need to put within the effort to take care of it.

The microphone put in a reasonably good efficiency, too. It’s flip-to-mute, however it additionally emits an audible beep whenever you’ve moved it far sufficient to show it on or off, supplying you with a pleasant little bit of clarification whenever you need to take a swig of tea. There was a slight background hiss current once I recorded myself speaking in Audacity, however nothing to be overly involved about for enjoying video games, and the remainder of my speech was clear and pop-free.

As for normal music listening, the Mindframe tends to be a bit boomy on the bass aspect of issues. Whereas Last Fantasy XV sounded good and balanced in-game, as an example, my FFXV soundtrack over in iTunes had a particular bias towards the low-end of the sound spectrum, making drums and percussion sound a bit too echoey for my liking, and brass and double bass just a little muddy and missing element.

Delicate piano tracks nonetheless sounded completely positive on the Mindframe, the additional bass truly giving a variety of my assortment a pleasant sense of heat and depth to them, however as quickly as extra devices began getting into the combination all of it turned a bit fudge-like. Rock and pop songs fared higher, the vocals in Queen’s Don’t Cease Me Now coming via clearly towards the distinct guitars, piano and percussion, however there are undoubtedly higher headsets on the market if you would like one that may double up on recreation and common music duties.

I applaud HP for making an attempt one thing totally different with the Omen Mindframe, however finally it left me feeling a bit chilly. As a lot as I just like the ear-cooling tech in concept, I’m much less in love with having to wipe it down each time I need to use it, and the very fact you’ll be able to’t flip off its digital 7.1 encompass sound is one other large, properly, flip off. It might go well with some video games right down to the bottom, but when I’m spending £180 / $200 on a gaming headset, I would like one that may do all the things with out difficulty. For me, the Steelseries Arctis 7 continues to be the headset to beat.