I've been looking at ways to reduce my desk clutter a little which involves scaling down my sound system. For the last few years I've been using a Creative 7.1 surround sound speaker system which is very nice but has its drawbacks. I don't always want to pull out the speakers and set them up into the optimal position and even if I did to get the best out of the 7.1 surround sound you need to crank up the volume so you can hear all the subtle directional sounds. This was highlighted to me when I took my PC to LAN parties and always seemed to do much better using a bog standard Plantronics stereo headset with mic. I figured that a stereo headset would be a step too far back so I started looking at 5.1 and 7.1 surround headsets. Of course the G35 is not true 7.1 but simulated through the drivers so its not going to be quite the same as a 7.1 speaker system but having used both I think you'd have to be a serious audiophile to be disappointed in the sound delivered by the G35 headset and for gaming purposes I feel they do the job just fine. The packaging is nicely presented with the headset being visible through a large clear plastic cover. A nice card sleeve inside holds the CD with driver software and a small booklet in written in multiple languages explaining what the buttons are for. The G35 headset feels strong and sturdy, my only concern about strength would be the swivel joint between the headset 'cup' and the headband which you can just about see when you hold them up to the light. I can't tell what material its made from but it does look quite thin but time will tell how they hold up to the rigors of every day use for gaming. The plastic used on most of the headset is covered in that nice rubberized coating that makes the headset feel a little more solid and a little more high quality than just coloured hard plastic does. The cord is 10ft long so its long enough to use if your PC or USB hub is not right next to you. I plugged mine into a hub and then sat some distance away in my GameRacer seat whilst playing iRacing and never felt like I was going to pull or stretch the cable. In fact I got up from my desk while playing Crysis to hit the light switch in the room a few feet away and never had to remove the G35 headset. The cord itself is a nice braided cable so that should reduce the snagging around other devices though the cable itself could do with being a little more supple as its still a little on the stiff side but thats a minor point. The braided cable gives the G35 headset a higher quality feel and also has a nice velcro loop so you can loom up the cable when its not being used, the velcro loop bears the G35 logo - another nice touch. The headset has a number of buttons and a roller on the left side body of the speaker. One button at the back, discretely position to turn Dolby surround on and off, a mic mute button handily placed towards the front in front of the volume roller and along the top three G-Keys. Each button has a nice positive click when pressed and the volume roller is around 16mm wide so its very easy to locate and has a nice slightly notchy rolling action to precisely control the volume. The keys all work very well and my first thoughts were 'great I can map Teamspeak channel switching to those buttons' You can imagine how disappointed I was when I fired up the G35 control applet and found out I could only map commands listed for the 6 applications supported by the G35 software (not including the 2 sets of G35 control options for setting things like Bass, treble, mic gain, voice morphing etc) These apps are: iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, Ventrilo, Power DVD, WinDVD. Considering this is a headset bearing Logitech's 'G' moniker that sets their gaming devices apart from their other product lines you'd expect to at least be able to program your own keys but even if you couldn't there would be more than just a few media app's supported. The fact they chose Ventrilo over Teamspeak is another baffling choice. Sure Ventrilo is used by a lot of people but Teamspeak is used by the vast majority of gamers. I just don't understand the logic of putting in such a useful feature as three programmable keys and not making them truly programmable when all of Logitech's other devices can be assigned whatever keys you like including their mice, keyboards,steering wheels and of course joysticks. On this feature alone they shot for the stars and barely made it across the carpark. I checked the dates of the software I downloaded instead of using the disk supplied to make sure it was the most up to date version but it hasn't been updated since July last year so I don't hold out hope of it getting any significant updates to at the very least support more apps or to be able to program your own keys. The headset comes with three padded headbands to suit different people but in all honesty I wonder how useful that is and whether it was a waste of money by Logitech to include it as a gimmick, I've tried the different bands and not really noticed much difference. The headset is very comfortable, a little weighty but not enough to make long periods of play uncomfortable. I did around 50 laps of Daytona in iRacing before switching to Crysis and played through a few levels and didn't really notice any discomfort though the leatherette covered pads do make your ears get a little warm! The band across the top is nicely padded with the same leathertte material on the underside and over the top its covered in a rubber type material which nicely bears the G35 logo embossed into the matte rubber with the lettering having a gloss finish. Underneath the band is metal and the adjustment part is number stamped so you can easily adjust each cup symmetrically. Inside the headphone cups themselves the speakers are covered in black fabric and the insert separating the speaker from the foam leatherette covered cups is finished in red which gives a nice contrast. The microphone works very well, its one of the clearest sounding mics I have ever used I was really impressed with the sound quality coming back. As I have already mentioned there is an option to morph your voice into one of the six presets which includes an android, troll and Alien voice. This might appeal to the younger gamers out there but I think would get ignored pretty quickly once the novelty wore off. There is a small red LED in the tip of the mic which lights when you hit the mute button. Its a very handy feature and the LED is not bright enough to be obtrusive yet can still be easily seen by the user. For users of TrackIR's and other head tracking devices this LED did not interfere with my TrackIR 3 with vector clip. Looking at the headset straight on the LED is not really that visible as its not right on the tip and its recessed inside the body a little with a small window over it. Looking at the TrackIR tracking screen it sometimes picks it up as a very small dot but always defers to tracking the Vector Clip. Another very clever feature is that the mic automatically mutes when you push it back up to its stowed position, the designers have really put some thought into this area. The boom has a rubber finish to it but is very easily formed to suit whatever position you want though in its standard position it picks up my voice very easily and the playback is extremely clear. The sound quality is very good also. As I said I'm not sure if I'm enough of an audiophile to completely appreciate it but the volume is good, bass is good and really it does everything I need. I've used the 7.1 speaker test in windows and you can definately pick out the sound as it moves around you but how well that translates in a game is difficult to tell as just having the sound cranked up is enough to help me find enemies. I did notice while running through the jungle in Crysis I was able to easily pinpoint enemies rustling and shouting at me and the same in Armed Assault II as a tank rolled past me as I stood stationary. Even using these from a view as being a stereo headset the sound was crisp and clear and being able to turn up the volume made a big difference to picking up some of the more subtle sounds from games that perhaps I'd missed on my older 7.1 surround sound speaker system. With the G35 headphones I can crank up the volume so now I can hear the start of that stall buffet in an aircraft or the tires beginning to loose traction in a racing sim just that little bit quicker. The sound quality is great, build quality is very good. If I could change one thing it would be to give me complete freedom over mapping controls to the G-Keys. A suggestion would also be to include a small plastic stand for this headset. Its a good looking headset and Logitech provide docking stands for their mice so a small plastic stand to store these safely would be a nice touch. I'll be using these as my default sound system from now on with my old 7.1 speakers being dismantled and probably changed to a small 2.1 system for the odd occasion when I want to play sound to others. There is room for improvement, software for the G-Keys being one such area that really needs improving but on the whole I'm very happy with the Logitech G35 headset.