Nyko SpeakerCom Review

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Company: Nyko
Platform: Xbox


Nyko's SpeakerCom is to Xbox Live what a speakerphone is to ordinary telephone service – it lets you talk and listen to Xbox Live chatter without clamping something to your ear. And like a speakerphone, its success depends entirely on how well it picks up your voice and how clear the sound is. Fortunately, both the speaker and the microphone work well. Better, in fact, than the standard-issue Xbox Live headset.

Rating:
Kyle Ackerman


The SpeakerCom fits into the second expansion slot in the Xbox controller, engulfing the Xbox Live adaptor. The combined device has a little bit of spring in it, so it can fit into a variety of controllers, even if the expansion slots don't have the standard spacing between them.

As advertised, the SpeakerCom isn't heavy. It doesn't get in the way of holding the controller at all, though it does change the balance of the controller, making it a bit more top heavy. This isn't an issue with the larger, old-style controllers, but more common S-controllers feel noticeably off-balance. It also works quite well with third party controllers that have two expansion slots (as long as the expansion slots are on the controller itself – otherwise, the microphone is too far away).

The most important feature of the SpeakerCom is the sound quality. The speaker produces sound comparable to that of the standard headset, so the main advantage is that it isn't pressed against your ear, and doesn't add yet another cord to the mix. If you play long sessions on Xbox Live (and aren't trying to keep the noise down for the benefit of a beleaguered spouse or irritated parents) the SpeakerCom is a lot more comfortable than having a sweaty earphone pressed to your head, and if you go for a drink of soda you don't catch yourself in the headset cord.

The SpeakerCom microphone is a particularly big improvement. Only when I was able to play a cross-country match over Xbox Live, where two of us had the SpeakerCom, was I able to hear how much more clear the microphone is on the SpeakerCom unit than on the typical headset. It sounds much like a regular telephone conversation, rather than the usual static-rich Xbox Live banter. The trade-off is that the speaker isn't always on or voice-activated. To avoid interference with the speaker, the microphone is only on when you press a paddle-like button (there's one on either side of the unit). Press the button, and it shuts off the speaker while you talk. This makes the sound clearer, but also means you need to be careful not to try and talk while someone else is saying something important. Also, if you play an older game that requires you to press a button on the controller to talk, you'll need to press both the controller button and the SpeakerCom button simultaneously.

The SpeakerCom really shines if you have multiple people listening in on a single Xbox Live account. For example, if you have a friend playing as a guest with you over your account, you can both listen to the online talk through the speaker. Of course, if your buddy wants to talk, you'll still need to press the talk button at the right time. It's also convenient if you have a friend watching you play who wants to listen in.

Unless you're actively trying to keep the noise level down, the Speaker Com is a lot more comfortable than the typical Xbox Live headset setup, and is a much clearer microphone. You'll find it easy to adapt to the slightly different heft of the controller. The only reason you might not appreciate the SpeakerCom is if you are an active talker and can't bring yourself to press a button near the trigger to be heard. The sound is good, and it means there isn't a speaker pressed against your ear for hours on end. That's a good thing.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on September 2, 2004 9:44 AM.

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