Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset: AW988 Review

We have spent the last few days living with the Alienware AW988 headset perched on our head and have gotten a very good idea of what the first headset from Alienware in nine years is all about. We gamed, we watched movies, and we listened to a lot of music. We tell you how it did and all the features and build quality.

Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset: AW988

It surely does not matter how long Alienware has been out of the gaming headset business, because it is surely back in it with the model AW988. The Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset, as it will be more affectionately known as, has just emerged on Dell's website and is priced at $229.99. The AW988 ticks all the checkboxes that a modern gamer needs, and most likely wants. Its pricing puts in what we would consider the "middle" tier when it comes to your hard earned dollars. The mainstream wireless headset pricing gamut reaches from the sub-$100 price range to the $300+ price point, and it is likely that Alienware has carved out a bit of ground for itself in the middle.

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The Alienware Wireless Gaming Headset: AW988 comes adorned in a very nice box that it is well packaged in. The packaging can certainly be seen as top tier, as unboxing it alone gives a presentation that makes you start to feel like your money was well spent before you even get the AW988 out of the package.

All the basic specs adorn the side of the box and are easily discernible as to what exactly those are, no matter the language you speak.

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Opening up the flap on the box will show you a bit of marketing that will tell you about the finer points of the AW988. We have "extreme comfort" sports mesh ear cushions, two RGB lighting zones, 2.4GHz wireless and 3.5mm wired connectivity, and customizable sound profiles and presets abound as well. Battery life on our packaging notes 12 hours battery life, but that figure has been adjusted to 14 hours on the final packaging. You will see the packaging updated.

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The 40mm drivers have a noted response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, and the AW988 has a noise cancelling mic as well. The 7.1 feature is noted as, "Alienware 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound." We do know that Alienware worked with Jabra for the technology used in the AW988. Jabra has been in the sound industry for a long time, and one of the headsets I first bought way back when, was built by Jabra, and it was a quality unit. While that unit was wired, its products nowadays rest in the "high end" wireless space for use with entertainment and communications.

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The AW988 is mounted down in the package and secured very well with Velcro ties. Out of the box, one of the first things I noticed was that I could stand these up on their own. Anyone that does not use a headset stand will surely appreciate that.

The entire unit is decked out in very dark gray to what some will consider black surfaces. Any kind of reflection or lighting makes the headset look a lot lighter in color than it actually is, as is shown in our photos. The surfaces are done in a soft-feeling matte finish and has a rubberized feel to it.

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The earcups on the AW988 are circumaural meaning that the cups completely cover your ears and rest against your head. One thing that many folks will love about the AW988 is that the earcups will turn a full 90 degrees inward to allow you to put these around your neck and lay the earcups off your shoulders, out of the way. Left and right ears are clearly marked as well, which is something we appreciate, however given the shape of the headset, it is likely that you will not need these markings more than a couple of times once you get oriented to your new gear.

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As you can see the mic folds back completely out of the way and is somewhat incognito. We will show you more of the mic on the next page. The small and very familiar Alienware logos adorn both sides of the AW988, so there will be no doubt as to the brand of these. The Alienware logo on the left ear is actually the power button. It only requires a quick click to turn the headset on, and a long click and hold to turn the AW988 off. The cushion for the top of your head is svelty integrated into the design of the AW988. We have a lot of flowing lines that lead into some fairly sharp angles, but it all works well together. The retaining brackets that secure the headband to the earcups are made of metal, and highly polished to match the alienware logos on the earcups.

Yes, we have RGB. As we will show you on the following pages, you have two customizable zones should Frag Harder Disco Lights be your thing. However, using these will just about cut your battery life in half.

We very much like the looks of the AW988 as it comes across clean and very well done in terms of overall design and presentation.