Logitech designed the whole Prodigy peripheral line from the ground up to appeal to new PC gamers, and as such, the G403 mouse and G213 keyboard are totally new designs that could really help up-and-coming players bridge the gap in a way more complicated hardware cannot. Then there's the Logitech G231 headset ($70), which is almost an exact reskin of the Logitech G230 and G430 design.
Imagine a G230 — a thoroughly decent headset, by the way — with somewhat better sound and microphone quality. Then, imagine it with orange trim instead of red, and a much higher price. That's the G231 in a nutshell. It's comfortable, it sounds pretty good and it works well with a variety of systems, but it doesn't offer anything special over comparably priced headsets.
If you remember the Logitech G230 and G430, the G231 is exactly the same design: a large headset with over-the-ear cups, a plush headband and a semi-flexible mic that moves up and down. The ear cups automatically swivel to accommodate users' ears, and can even fold flat to make the headset easier to transport.
It's a good, comfortable design, but it's since been followed up by much more comfortable ones, including flexible headbands from SteelSeries and more elegant mic storage from Logitech itself.
The G231 is also quite simple in how it connects to devices. This wired headset connects via a 3.5-mm jack, and that's it. There's no optional USB adapter, no software and no physical amplifier. The closest you get is a small set of in-line controls, which can modify audio volume and mute the mic. In theory, the peripheral works equally well with computers, mobile devices and game consoles (via their controllers).
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While the G231 deserves some props for keeping things simple, it also warrants a little criticism for falling back on a three-year-old design that doesn't seem especially well suited to newer gamers. The G231 has a lot of the same "very big, very futuristic" appearance as a lot of other gaming headsets, which can make it intimidating for people who may be hopping into competitive online play for the first time, or for people who just want something subtle.
Like the G230 and the G430, the G231 is perfectly comfortable to wear over long stretches of time. The ear cups are plush and have a lot of give, and their swiveling ability means they will fit just about anyone perfectly. You can wear this headset for hours at a time, even with glasses, and suffer no ill effects.
My co-workers had similar reports about the G230 and the G430 when I first reviewed them, and the design hasn't changed since then. The only drawback is that comfort and portability don't go hand in hand; while you can fold it to a certain extent, the G231 is rather bulky and unwieldy, and a bit too garish to wear on the subway or an airplane.
I ran the G231 through our standard battery of games, and it was pretty solid across the board. In Overwatch, I could hear my enemies clearly, and their footsteps and shots indicated their directions well. My team won a speedy victory — probably not entirely due to the G231, but it certainly didn't hurt.
Other genres worked similarly well with this headset. Both the mission dialogue and the sounds of battle came through clearly in StarCraft II, and Rise of the Tomb Raider resounded with falling ice and the murmuring of underbrush. In Marvel Heroes, thugs tried to shout down Captain America and then felt a resounding smack as his shield flew into their torsos.
Although the audio is clear, it's also a bit flat. I didn't hear any significant differences between a game's music, voice acting and sound effects. You can't expect pristine audio from a $70 headset, but some subtle touches could have helped to elevate it.
Because the G231 has no USB connection, it has no software, either. This is generally a good thing — nine times out of 10, I'll take a dead-simple product over one that's more complicated than it needs to be — but it also means that you can't modify the sound.
The G231 also sports a decent enough mic. When I tried recording my voice in a moderately quiet lab (not so different from the average multi-person household), my voice was clear and audible, but the mic picked up a ton of background static as well. This is the kind of mic you will want muted whenever you're not actively talking.
The G231 provides fair sound for music. I listened to Celtic punk outfit Flogging Molly's new single, "The Hand of John L. Sullivan" and could hear everything just fine, from the pounding drums to the omnipresent accordion. Likewise, "Carry Me Back," a Civil War-inspired number from Old Crow Medicine Show, sounded balanced, with the guitars, vocals and mandolin all quite audible. Selections from G.F. Handel's "Messiah" oratorio sounded fine, although the sopranos came through much more clearly than their alto, tenor and bass counterparts.
However, the music did not feel particularly rich and varied on the G231. The sound did not feel immediate, like watching a concert in a crowded theater. It felt more like I was watching them on a TV — one of those newer, ultrathin TVs that don't have enough physical room for impressive speakers.
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Although the G231 is OK for listening to music, I wouldn't recommend it as a replacement for a good pair of everyday headphones, especially given its size.
If the G230 had one big problem, it was that the sound wasn't that great. The G231 features a much better audio driver, but aside from the color scheme, that's just about the only difference — well, that and an extra $30 on the price. Personally, I don't think it's worth the upgrade.
If you really dig the G231's design, consider the G230, which is nearly identical and almost half the price. The SteelSeries Siberia 200 (previously V3) headset features better sound and a much sleeker, more comfortable design, as does the Kingston HyperX Cloud II, which costs only $15 more than the G231.
With its Prodigy line, Logitech wants to introduce newer gamers to the wonders of dedicated gaming peripherals, and the G231 could indeed do that. But if you're willing to dig just a little deeper, you'll find that there are better beginner-friendly gaming headsets out there.