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Best Xbox gaming headset for 2021

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Best Xbox gaming headset for 2021

If you’re gaming on the Xbox One or a new Xbox Series X and want to use headphones, you can plug any old standard pair with a mic into the controller’s 3.5mm jack. Note that we said you can do that, not that you should do that. Even a semiserious gamer can tell you that a good set of gaming headphones can be the difference between a successful raid and an embarrassing defeat caused by subpar game audio.

Many people with an Xbox console, whether that be the Xbox One, Xbox Series S or Series X, choose to go with a wired headset simply because it can be plugged into the already wireless controller. It’s also worth noting that many, if not most, options in the wired gaming headset category also work just fine with the PlayStation 5, Windows PCs, Macs and the Nintendo Switch.

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If you want to eliminate the cord that goes from the controller to your headphones, however, there are plenty of wireless headset options. The nice thing about Xbox wireless headsets options is that most don’t require a USB dongle to connect wirelessly (most PS4 wireless headsets do, for example). Microsoft’s Xbox Wireless technology allows you to quickly pair with your Xbox sans dongle. Wireless models that require dongles are specifically noted below.

In making these picks, we focused mainly on a few key variables, including design (build quality), comfort and sound quality, as well as extra features (think noise cancellation, noise isolation, detachable microphone and Bluetooth connectivity) along with price. Some even offer surround sound! We also took mic quality into consideration, because that’s especially important if your gaming session requires group coordination. If you can’t be heard, you can’t strategize!

Finally, so far as we know, all of the Xbox One wireless headsets listed here will also work with the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S.

With those basics established, let’s talk about the best Xbox headset. These are the results of our own home-based testing, updated periodically, and include some options suggested by GameSpot’s list of best gaming headsets. Any of these can greatly enhance your gaming experience, especially when settling in for a long gaming session.

Read more: Best gaming headset for PS5 (so far)

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Turtle Beach has upgraded its popular Stealth 700 headset, improving both its performance and comfort. The build quality is solid and I liked the “cooling gel-infused” memory foam ear cushions, which really fit my head nicely and play well with glasses. The headband is also sturdy and well-padded.

Turtle Beach says this Gen 2 model has improved 50mm Nanoclear drivers — the sound is more detailed and “precise,” — there’s a redesigned metal-reinforced headband and a larger, high-sensitivity flip-to-mute mic. Its engineers tuned it to deliver even “more detailed and precise sound.” I thought it sounded quite good, and the headset pairs to your phone and is also good for music listening and taking calls while you’re gaming. There’s an “all-new” Turtle Beach Hub app for iOS and Android that allows you to tweak the audio and remap buttons. 

This headset will work with older Xbox One consoles as well as the next-gen Series X consoles. Battery life is now up to 20 hours — the headset charges via USB-C — and thanks to Xbox Wireless technology, you can connect wirelessly to the Xbox without using a dongle like you have to do with the PS4. 

If you’re looking at this versus the step-down Stealth 600 Gen 2, which retails for $100, that model is also good but the Stealth 700 Gen definitely has a more premium feel to it. It’s a really solid headset for $150.

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The Razer Nari Ultimate for Xbox is a beast of wireless headset, at least in terms of size. That said, it’s not heavy and its auto-adjusting headband makes this one of the most comfortable gaming headsets you can buy; just note that its ear cups really stick out from your head. The ear pads are equipped with cooling gel-infused cushions, and the Razer logo lights up.

Aside from excellent sound quality and comfort, the other signature feature is the built-in HyperSense haptic feedback technology that lets you feel the game while you’re playing. One might call it a gimmick but it does add another dimension to the gaming experience. The only downside is that battery life takes a hit when you engage it. It’s 6 hours with HyperSense on and 20 hours with it turned off.

It’s worth pointing out that this is an open-back headset, which does help open up the soundstage and give the audio a more airy quality, but the sound will leak out of the headphones, which could annoy others around you. I found the microphone performance to be good but not stellar. 

This will also connect to a PC wirelessly with an Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows.

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SteelSeries

On the PlayStation and PC side, Arctis has its high-end Pro Wireless ($330), which some say is the best all-around headset for both those platforms. But for Xbox, the Arctis 9X Wireless is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a more premium wireless headset. It connects directly to the Xbox wirelessly without a dongle and can also be used with your phone with a Bluetooth connection. It delivers 20 hours of battery life.

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If you can’t quite afford Turtle Beach’s new Stealth 700 Gen 2, the new Stealth 600 Gen 2 is a good alternative at $100. While it doesn’t have the more premium build quality of the Stealth 700, it’s a very comfortable headset with good sound and performance. The audio quality has been improved slightly, and like the Stealth 700, it’s equipped with a larger high-sensitivity flip-to-mute mic that seamlessly integrates into the headset when retracted (muted). 

An audio preset button on the left ear cup allows you to quickly customize your audio, and thanks to Xbox Wireless technology, it’s easy to connect to your Xbox. Battery life is rated at 15 hours, and the headset recharges via USB-C. 

The headset is pictured in white but is more readily available in black. The PlayStation version includes a dongle for wireless connectivity with the PS4 and PS5.

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The Quantum 100 is the entry-level model in JBL’s new line of Quantum gaming headsets, which run from $40 to $300. There’s nothing fancy about this model, but it’s pretty lightweight and comfortable with nicely padded ear cups, plus it has a detachable boom microphone. On the left ear cup there’s a volume control dial along with a microphone mute button. It also works with other game consoles and is pretty decent for music, though it’s a touch bright. 

While some of JBL’s higher-end models feature wireless connectivity and even noise canceling, the Quantum 100 is just a basic gaming headphone that will appeal to more casual gamers on a tight budget. 

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Check out the shopping experience at Amazon’s new retail clothing store

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Check out the shopping experience at Amazon’s new retail clothing store

Amazon does very well with its online clothing sales, but physical clothes stores still sweep up most of the business.

Keen as ever for a piece of the pie, the e-commerce giant has unveiled plans for its first-ever retail clothing store for men and women, selling garments, shoes, and accessories from well-known brands as well as emerging designers.

The 30,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar store will open at The Americana at Brand — an upmarket shopping complex in Glendale, Los Angeles — later this year.

As you can see in the video below, Amazon Style stores will only have one sample of each item on the store floor. If you want to try something on, you simply use the Amazon Shopping app to scan its QR code, select the size and color, and it’ll be sent directly to the fitting room. Inside the fitting room you’ll find a large-screen tablet that lets you call for more colors or sizes.

You can also scan to buy and collect the item almost immediately from the pickup counter. Scanning items will also prompt Amazon’s algorithms to suggest similar items that you might like to try.

“Customers enjoy doing a mix of online and in-store shopping, and that’s no different in fashion,” Simoina Vasen, the managing director of Amazon Style, told CNN. “There’s so many great brands and designers, but discovering them isn’t always easy.”

Vasen also said Amazon Style will sell “everything from the $10 basic to the designer jeans to the $400 timeless piece” in a bid to meet “every budget and every price point.”

While Amazon made its name with online shopping, in recent years the company has explored the world of physical stores with a range of openings.

It started off with bookstores in 2015 before launching the first of many cashier-free Amazon Go stores that use cameras to track your purchases so you can simply grab and go without having to line up. But it didn’t stop there. Amazon Fresh grocery stores have been popping up in states across the country, while it also launched a store called Amazon 4-star selling products that have received high ratings on its online store.

It also acquired Whole Foods in a $13 billion deal 2017, and last year was reportedly looking into the idea of opening a chain of discount stores, though the pandemic apparently prompted the company to put the idea on hold.

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How to enable TPM 2.0 on your PC

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How to enable TPM 2.0 on your PC

One of the controversial requirements to run Windows 11 is a TPM 2.0 chip. This chip, usually found on your PC’s motherboard, is a security chip that handles encryption for your fingerprint, other biometric data, and even things like Windows BitLocker. It’s usually turned on by default on most PCs, and found in most modern systems purchased in the last few years.

Yet if you’re not sure if TPM 2.0 is turned on (usually the Windows 11 updater will check for you), you can check for it manually and then enable it in a few steps. Here’s how.

Windows 10's Security Menu.


Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

Check for TPM using the Windows Security App

Before diving into our guide, you might want to check for a TPM 2.0 chip on your PC. You can do this manually through the Windows 10 settings. This will let you know if you can continue with the Windows 11 install process.

Step 1: Open Windows 10 settings with Windows Key and I on your keyboard. Then go to Update and Security.

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Step 2: From Update and Security click Windows Security followed by Device Security and Security Processor Details. If you don’t see a Security Processor section on this screen, your TPM 2.0 chip might be disabled or unavailable. If you see a spec that’s lower than 2.0, then your device can’t run Windows 11.

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Windows 10's Security Options.


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Get to BIOS to enable TPM

Once you verify or confirm that you have a TPM 2.0 chip on your system, then you’ll need to get into your PC’s BIOS to enable it. You can do this directly through Windows without the need for a keyboard combination on boot. Here’s how.

Step 1: Go into Windows 10 Settings. Head to Update and Security, followed by Recovery and then Restart Now. Your system will restart.

Windows 10's Advanced Security Options Menu.


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Step 2: On the next screen, you’ll want to choose Troubleshoot, followed by Advanced Options and then UEFI Firmware Settings. Click on the Restart button, and this will boot your PC into the system BIOS to check on TPM 2.0.

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Dell's BIOS settings.


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Enable TPM 2.0 in the BIOS

Now that you’re in the System BIOS, you’ll want to look for a specific submenu. On most systems, the TPM settings can be found under settings labeled Advanced Security, Security, or Trusted Computing. Navigate to these menus using either the keyboard combinations listed on the screen or the mouse if your BIOS supports it.

If you’re unsure about which menu to get into, you can visit the links below. Each link will take you to a PC manufacturer’s page with guidance on how to enable TPM 2.0.

Step 1: Once you’re in the respective menu in the BIOS, you can check the box or flip the switch for one of the following options. Sometimes TPM 2.0 can be labeled differently as one of these options: Security Device, Security Device Support, TPM State, AMD fTPM switch, AMD PSP fTPM, Intel PTT, or Intel Platform Trust Technology.

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Step 2: If you’re not sure if you’re checking the right box for TPM 2.0 settings, then you might want to check with the support documents for the company that made your PC. We linked to some of those above.

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Step 3: Once you enable TPM 2.0, you can exit the BIOS using the commands listed at the bottom of the screen. Usually, the Esc key will do the trick, and you’ll be prompted to Save and Exit. Your system will then restart and boot you back into Windows.

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Now that you confirmed that your PC has a TPM 2.0 chip, you can proceed with the Windows 11 installation process. We have a guide on how you can do that, and another piece that explains the differences between Windows 10 and Windows 11.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What we want from the new foldable

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4: What we want from the new foldable

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been my daily driver for a while now –and I love it. Unfolding it to get a bigger display still feels futuristic every time I do it. The cameras get the work done, and it is an amazing mobile device for productivity. But despite being the best of its kind, all things can use some improvement, and that’s the case for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as well.

Here’s what I hope Samsung improves on with the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

A wider cover display … with a caveat

From left, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Oppo Find N open from the back.
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Front displays on foldables are meant to get things done quickly, without having to go to the next step of unfolding the phone. For instance, replying to that message on WhatsApp, checking the time, swiping through notifications, and anything that requires little effort. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 flies through quick tasks on the slim 6.2-inch display — unless I have to quickly type something on it.

Typing on the cover display of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a troublesome task. Due to the slimness of the screen, you don’t get the usable width on the keyboard, which results in a lot of typos that end up frustrating me. Making the cover display wider solves the problem of typos, but also leads to a wider foldable display.

Based on my experience with the Oppo Find N, it might not be a good idea despite the usability improvement. The web is built to operate vertically. You scroll down on stuff, be it your Twitter feed, TikTok, Instagram Reels, reading on a browser, or anything else. Personally, I’ve yet to come across an app or a webpage where I prefer a wider aspect ratio to a taller one. I like the taller aspect ratio of the Fold 3 rather than the wider aspect ratio on the Find N.

If Samsung could shrink the size of the left bezel on the cover display and increase its width, while keeping the dimensions the same as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I’ll be glad. If not, I’ll just unfold the display to type quick replies as I have been doing.

Longer-lasting battery and faster charging

Typing on the closed Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Fold 3 battery life is above average, but not the best. If you push it to the limits or have a busy day without access to Wi-Fi, it’ll drain the battery before you get to bed. And unfortunately, the fast-charging support is limited to 25 watts.

With Chinese smartphone manufacturers raising the bar on fast charging to a mind-boggling 120W, I hope to see the Galaxy Z Fold 4 offer up to 45W fast charging at least. I’m fine with a 4,400mAh battery if I get support for fast charging that can get my phone from 10% to 60% within 35 minutes or so. Samsung has done it before with the Galaxy S20 Ultra, so there’s no reason it can’t bring 45W fast-charging support to the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

An upgrade to 11W fast wireless charging would also be much appreciated.

Make it lighter

Galaxy Z Fold 3 outer display showing ParkyPrakhar Twitter.

The first thing you realize when you start using the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is its weight. Depending on how you hold the phone, your pinkie finger could feel strain when using it folded for longer durations. That shouldn’t be the case with any foldable. It unfolds! Use it that way.

A reduction in the current 271-gram would be a welcome change and provide some relief to people’s pinkie fingers. I have had no major issues with the weight on my current Fold 3, but a lighter model would just feel better in the hands.

Better app optimization

An open Galaxy Z Fold 3 with apps on the screen.
An open Galaxy Z Fold 3 with apps on the screen. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This one has much more to do with Android app developers than Samsung, but apps could definitely use some optimization. And by app optimization, I don’t mean a full-screen Instagram (although, you can do that in the Samsung Lab in Settings).

Apps like WhatsApp, which is used by billions of people, need to step things up. On the Galaxy Z Fold 3, if I’m clicking a photo from the app, it magnifies everything. The viewfinder doesn’t give you an accurate estimate of what your photo is going to look like. Everything is blown up and magnified – even on video calls! If the user at the other end is holding the smartphone at the usual distance, you’ll see a cropped version on the folding display.

I hope WhatsApp can push out an update that fixes things, especially when its sister app — Instagram — has it all figured out in the Stories section. Instagram Stories don’t crop or magnify your image in the viewfinder.

There’s a decent chance the situation will start to improve with Android 12L, but a lot still rides on app developers implementing these changes.

Creaseless folding display

A Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 device with the display turned off lying on some leaves.

The crease on the Fold 3 folding display is much like the notch on Apple devices – you stop noticing it after a while. However, it is still noticeable when there’s a dark background, especially when reading something on the Kindle app, which is a common use case for me. Despite the crease bothering me sometimes, I love reading on the Fold 3.

On the other hand, the Oppo Find N‘s foldable display doesn’t have a deep crease like the Fold, though that might change after long-term use. But out of the box, the Find N has a much more seamless foldable display that looks and feels more pleasant to use. I just wish Samsung could figure out a way to minimize the crease to make my reading experience more pleasant.

Better UDC selfie shooter on the inside

Galaxy Z Fold 3 on a pavement.

When Samsung debuted the 4MP under-display camera (UDC) on the Fold 3, it was making a huge bet by adding an innovative new feature while also sacrificing usability. It’s beautiful to have a 7.6-inch display without any cutout bothering you and makes full-screen content appear more thrilling.

However, the quality of the selfies taken from the UDC isn’t great, as we noted in our review. Fortunately, Samsung is likely already working on a next-gen UDC with better image quality output, and I hope it debuts on the Galaxy Z Fold 4.

Built-in dock for S-Pen

Samsung introduced the capability of S-Pen support from its Note lineup to the Galaxy S21 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, both of them missed out on a huge functional design feature that the Note had – a place to keep the S-Pen. If the Galaxy S22 Ultra renders are anything to go by, Samsung is already working on a place you can slot the S Pen without needing to shell out for a special case. That’ll make the S22 Ultra feel much more like the presumably defunct Note series, while the Z Fold 4 could get this slot, too, and serve as a more effective note-taking slate.

When will Galaxy Z Fold 4 launch?

The Galaxy Z Fold 4 has largely replaced the Galaxy Note lineup, which used to serve as the second flagship series lineup for Samsung. Now, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 is expected to launch alongside the Galaxy Z Flip 4 toward the end of 2022.

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