EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid evaluate: mild on options for the associated fee
The $199 GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds from audio firm EPOS are, to my data, the primary really wi-fi earbuds made for gaming — however the buds themselves aren’t the largest promoting level. The USB-C Bluetooth receiver that comes with the earbuds will get that distinction.
It’s way more compact than the usual flash drive-sized USB dongles included with many headsets. It’s extra succesful, too, working with the aptX low latency (aptX LL) codec that delivers good-sounding audio with no perceivable lag. Utilizing the receiver, the GTW 270 Hybrid might be particularly nice for fast-paced video games the place sound cues depend for achievement; however actually, it’s good to have for any title.
Nonetheless, there may be one drawback: the microphones don’t work if you’re listening to audio by way of the USB-C receiver. (The earbuds’ built-in microphones do work, nonetheless, once they’re paired to a tool by way of Bluetooth.)
This falls extra on the technical limitations of aptX than EPOS’s decision-making. In an effort to prioritize bandwidth for sound high quality and responsiveness, solely the playback channel is lively if you’re listening utilizing the USB-C dongle. That’s a possible deal-breaker for some players who may need to have the ability to soar right into a voice chat with mates on their consoles. However to EPOS’s credit score, the latency between the dongle and the earphones actually does appear nonexistent.
These gunmetal-colored buds have a easy, understated design in order that they don’t poke out an excessive amount of out of your ear. They aren’t too heavy, and the match is comfy, due to swappable silicone ear suggestions that assist to get seal in your ear. As for controls, they’ve only a single multifunction button that handles pausing and resuming music, altering tracks, in addition to selecting up cellphone calls. In different phrases, with out the USB-C dongle, these aren’t that particular. (EPOS does make a $169 model sans dongle.) For basic use — corresponding to cellphone calls or music — you will get extra by spending much less for those who try among the choices in my colleague Chris Welch’s reasonably priced wi-fi earbud shopping for information.
Outdoors of gaming, these earbuds can be utilized like some other wi-fi set to hook up with your cellphone, pill, or laptop computer by way of Bluetooth. They help Bluetooth 5.1 (with the SBC or aptX codec, relying on the machine you connect with) for music, movies, video games, and cellphone calls, and EPOS says you possibly can pair them with as much as eight gadgets. Pairing is finished by holding down the button on the charging case.
Talking of the charging case: it has an all-metal design that’s sadly very simple to scratch. It prices by way of USB-C; with a full cost, EPOS says it will possibly ship as much as 15 hours of additional battery life to the earphones. Throughout the evaluate interval, the GTW 270 Hybrid earbuds made it to the five-hour mark for battery life, which matches the corporate’s declare. And for those who’re somebody who goes on the occasional sweaty jog or simply doesn’t need to get caught within the rain, these are IPX5 water-proof.
I’ve spent the previous few weeks utilizing the earbuds to play video games alternately on my PS5, my Change, and my work laptop computer a number of instances every day. (In case you’re curious, there’s an adapter included that allows you to plug the dongle into a tool that has USB Sort-A ports.) The GTW 270 Hybrid works like several wi-fi gaming headset, however the really wi-fi type issue has some apparent benefits. I like that they let me transfer round uninhibited by wires, and utilizing them doesn’t isolate me (or mess up my hair) as a lot as cumbersome over-ear cans. The receiver is pre-paired to the buds, they usually join nearly immediately.
I additionally love the comfort of with the ability to use simply the proper earbud (the proper one controls the Bluetooth transmission, so listening by the left earbud alone doesn’t work), so I can preserve an ear out there to hear for packages being dropped off. This, after all, is nothing new for individuals who already use really wi-fi earbuds. It simply feels new to expertise this freedom with a gaming headset.
I sampled the Demon’s Souls remake, 2018’s God of Battle, Ring Match Journey, and Ghost of Tsushima, together with a couple of different video games, throughout the evaluate interval. Whereas they don’t have the widest soundstage or the clearest frequency separation I’ve heard for listening to music, they shine with recreation audio — specifically, with encompass sound results and bass supply. The general sound high quality isn’t explosively sturdy, and there’s a restrict to how immersive the encompass sound results might be, given the earbuds’ small drivers. However the sound isn’t too compromised. Except you’re a hardcore gamer who wants to listen to each element in crystal-clear presentation, these will possible go well with you.
The GTW 270 Hybrid can be very near ideally suited if the microphones labored whereas related utilizing the USB-C dongle. Alas, they don’t, so utilizing the dongle shall be subsequent to ineffective for individuals who regularly play multiplayer video games with mates. (It’s a barely completely different story for those who play a number of single-player video games and don’t thoughts not having a microphone for gaming.) Because the earbuds usually are not all that helpful for gaming with out the dongle, meaning you’re making a giant compromise, and it’s one which not one of the greatest gaming headsets I’ve examined (most of that are cheaper than this) ask you to make. It’s your selection.
Pictures by Cameron Faulkner / GadgetClock
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