With some hesitation, I switched to a wireless headset and mouse, and my opinion of wireless has forever changed.
The grass is always greener
Have you ever been in a rough relationship? The kind where you deal with any frustrations and annoyances by telling yourself "this is just the way it is"? The grass is always greener, so why bother? What you have is fine. And it is, for the most part.
That's kind of how I felt about the wired headset that I used for years. I loved it, really. It was comfortable and reliable, and I depended on it for gaming, hanging out with friends on Vent/TeamSpeak/Skype/Discord, late-night Netflix binges, the weird parts of Youtube, etc.
But in the back of my mind, I still had to wonder if going wireless might make me happier.
As wireless headsets (and now a wireless mouse) became more prominent, including here at SteelSeries, I started to ask myself those "what if...?" questions. I'd see a coworker do a full spin in their chair without getting tangled, or get up and pace around while on a call. A streamer friend would walk off camera while still chatting with friends on Discord.
Yet here I was, tethered to my desk, accustomed to the "be right back" and "back" dance of muting and leaving my headset behind. I was constantly and unconsciously tucking the cord under my keyboard when it got in the way, or having a mini-heart attack when it would swing anywhere near a drink. Not to mention the frustration of my headset getting yanked off my head when I'd try to reach something. Don't even get me started on annoyance of freeing the cable from under my chair when I'd inevitably roll over it.
Those wireless folks don't have to deal with this, but they must have to worry about other things, like interference or battery life or...something. The grass is always greener, right?
The last straw
The strangest thing I found myself doing was during a weekly 3-hour online D&D session that we held via Discord. I have a small bladder, but didn't want to miss anything the DM was saying, nor did I want to interrupt the group every time I had to run to the bathroom.
So I daisy-chained some headset extension cords together so that my wired headset would reach from my desk to the bathroom. Except...it still didn't quite reach. When I had to use the bathroom, I'd bring my crazy extension cord headphones as far they would reach, which was the floor just outside the bathroom. From there, I could sort of hear the DM talking while I was peeing if I cranked the volume all the way up.
I didn't realize how insane this seemed until my roommate came home one night and I didn't quite know how to explain myself. It was around this time that I decided I'd finally try out wireless.
I wasn't convinced that I'd really make the switch. I'm an old dog and I didn't want to learn this trick. In fact, I kept my trusty wired gear right there on my desk while I tried my first night of wireless gaming.
The wireless headset experience
The first thing I notice using the Arctis 7 is that I feel uninhibited. I can move my arms freely and not get snagged on a cable, and sit back and stretch instead of feeling stuck and hunched over. While still chatting on Discord, I can suddenly lay down, refill my water, use the bathroom (while muted of course), switch my laundry, grab a snack, adjust the thermostat...all of the little things you would usually have to go AFK for or just ignore.
To the delight of my friends, I've stopped being MIA when the Dota queue pops.
The wireless mouse experience
The best way I can describe the change from a wired to wireless mouse is to compare it to when consoles made the switch from wired controllers to wireless. Many of us grew up accustomed to the feeling of a wire being attached to our controllers and mice. It didn't ever really bother us, and even felt weird to not have it there. When I first got a PS3, I would instinctively find myself being careful not to yank on the nonexistent cord. But nowadays I can't wait for my controller to finish charging so I can unplug it and get comfy.
The wireless mouse experience feels similiar (and luckily, the Rival 650 only takes 15 minutes to get a 10+ hour charge, so I only have to suffer being wired for 15 minutes or so). It's a hard-to-descibe kind of freedom that you don't realize you are lacking.
And the downsides?
What about the interference and battery life I was worried about? Well, those haven't been an issue yet. The headset signal reaches every corner of my apartment. Battery-wise, I'm really bad at ever plugging anything in to charge, but most wireless products can be set to turn off after a period of inactivity. Whenever my mouse or headset are getting low (maybe every few days), I'll just plug them in and be wired for a bit. No real complaints.
The grass is actually greener
I think we get so used to the way something feels, that we honestly don't think it can be improved. We get so used to something less-than-great, we stop realizing that it could be better.
I've made the switch to wireless, and I'm definitely not going back.
Editor's note: Since writing this, I've started using the Arctis 1 Wireless everyday, since it's ideal for my daily commute.