Mad Catz at CES 2012: headsets, arcade sticks, and a mouse (hands-on)

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To say that Mad Catz brought a slew of fresh gaming peripherals to CES would be putting it lightly. In addition to its MLG Pro Circuit modular controller we told you about last week, the company also had a pair of headsets on display: the Cyborg Freq 5 for PC gamers and a Tritton Primer wireless Xbox 360 headset, an MMO 7 mouse and a two-player FightStick arcade controller. We had hands-on time with the latest gear, and now have some photos and initial impressions to share.

First, we'll tackle the headsets. While it may lack simulated 7.1 surround sound as found in products from Turtle Beach and Astro, the stereo output from the Freq 5 seemed to provide adequate lows and a relatively crisp high-end in Mad Catz's crowded hotel suite. We came away more impressed with the build quality. Among other things, the headset features a number of metal components including a joint that lets the ear cups twist to rest comfortably on your shoulders. The Freq 5s can double as a regular pair of headphones by way of interchangeable USB / 3.5mm extensions; the transition is dead simple, but we can't imagine many folks will be buying these with music in mind.

Mad Catz also had some console headsets to share, placing an emphasis on the just-launched Tritton Primer for Xbox 360, featuring 5.8GHz wireless connectivity direct to the console and individual voice / game audio volume control. We weren't blown away with the quality here, but again found ourselves sampling Primer in a less-than-ideal environment. Both products were mighty comfortable when we tried them on — with adjustable bands for those with larger craniums though we can't yet speak to how they'd fare during multi-hour gaming stretches.

Likewise, the Cyborg MMO 7 mouse aims to build upon the prior Cyborg Rat 7 and its 6400dpi "twin-eye" sensor by adding features tailored for open world titles like World of Warcraft. The thirteen programmable buttons exhibited nice tactility and response, while tracking also looked to be quite sharp. Better yet, if the hardware isn't to your liking out of the box, Mad Catz provides tools that let you customize both the frame and weight (just like the Rat series) of the mouse to better suit your grip. The initial setup wasn't exactly tailored for our large hands, but a quick adjustment improved things greatly.

Finally, Mad Catz is adding the Street Fighter X Tekken Arcade FightStick VS (whew!) to its family of arcade-style peripherals. Seeking to mimic the layout of a Japanese Vewlix arcade cabinet, the FightStick VS carries a ball-handled joystick and 30mm buttons — both of which offered a premium feel in our brief demonstration. Plus, for the first time, two units can be combined by removing a side panel from each and installing a $20 connector kit. The Street Fighter X Tekken FightStick will launch alongside its namesake game for $199.99. Check out our hands-on gallery of the Mad Catz collection below.

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