13
Aug
1[8]

Mad Catz isn't generally the first name you think of when pondering high-end Android accessories, but I was pretty impressed with its CTRLR Bluetooth gamepad. In fact, it's my current favorite Bluetooth controller for Android (though NVIDIA's SHIELD controller is better than anything else available today). While we're on a high note, we decided to check out the STRIKEM Bluetooth keyboard and FREQM Bluetooth gaming headset. Let's dig in.

wm_IMG_3122

S.T.R.I.K.E.M Keyboard: So Close, Yet So Not Close At The Same Time Too

Pros

Cons

  • Lots of unique features.
  • It looks pretty neat.
  • Ships with a nice slipcase and thin, but useful tablet stand.
  • It's just too damn small. The keys are essentially unusable.
  • Too expensive considering its shortcomings.

When I first saw the STRIKEM keyboard, I had high hopes. It's packed with a ton of cool features, like a built-in touchpad, volume control spindle, backlighting, support for multiple connections, and more. The idea behind this keyboard is nothing short of kickass.

wm_IMG_3087 wm_IMG_3088 wm_IMG_3091

Unfortunately, Mad Catz forgot about one important detail: typing. The keys on the STRIKEM are so ridiculously tiny that it's nearly impossible to accurately key in any information. In fact, I'd much rather use an on-screen keyboard, because the STRIKEM just frustrates me to no end.

That really sucks, because everything else about this keyboard is great, and it all works really well. But if you can't type on a keyboard, what good is it? None. It's no good. None good, even. Plus, it's $100, and you can get a much more usable keyboard for that.

This image from the Mad Catz website says it all:

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The keyboard is 40% smaller than a regular keyboard, and the left side is where the mouse buttons, backlight key, and media controls are, thus taking away precious space from the keyboard's main keys. Great idea, poor design. Too bad.

Here's a comparison to the ZAGGKeys Flex, which has undersized keys, just to give you an idea of how tiny these STRIKEM's keys really are:

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What is this, a keyboard for ants?

F.R.E.Q.M Wireless Mobile Gaming Headset: Hey! These Aren't Half Bad!

Pros

Cons

  • It sounds good.
  • Small and compact.
  • Very overpriced for what it offers.
  • Uncomfortable at first.

Compared to the STRIKEM, I had the exact opposite feelings about the FREQM when I first saw it: I didn't expect much. You can probably imagine my surprise when I unpacked the headset and threw it on my head, only to find out that it doesn't sound bad at all. In fact, it sounds pretty damn good. Color me shocked (if I'm not mistaken,"shock" is a shade of bright pink, but I could be wrong).

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Pretend the Moto X is a banana and use that for scale.

One of the most noticeable things about the FREQM is its compact size: these are some little-bitty headphones. It also folds up nicely, making it quite portable. All of the controls are found on the right speaker, which includes track and volume controls, play/pause, microUSB charging port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired play. All pretty common things for a set of Bluetooth headphones to have.

Given the size, I didn't expect very good sound quality or a lot of bass from the FREQM's speakers. I was wrong on both counts – not only do they sound pretty good, but they put out ample bass for their compact size. That said, they're not as balanced as I'd like – they're actually a little too bass heavy. If you like a lot of bass, I guess that's a good thing.

wm_IMG_3114 wm_IMG_3115

There's just one major issue with the FREQM: the price. At $200, they're crazy overpriced. After using them, I expected to see a $100-120 price, which I think is fair. But $200 is just nuts. If you can catch them on sale for even $150, they're not a bad deal. But $200 is just 2much.

Other than that, there aren't any major flaws with the FREQM. It's small and light, portable, sounds pretty good, and offers a wired connection for those times when wireless just isn't an option.

Conclusion (aka TL;DR)

Well, this has been a flip-flop sort of review, hasn't it? One decent product, one not so much, neither being what I expected. While I can't recommend the STRIKEM to anyone for any reason, the FREQM was a pleasant surprise. I can't imagine many hardcore music enthusiasts looking at Mad Catz during their headphone search, but it may just be worth checking these out...if you can find them at the right price.

Buy

STRIKEM: Amazon, Mad Catz

FREQM: Amazon, Mad Catz

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, and musician. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6- or 7-string, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Krzysztof

    banana for scale?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      I gave explicit instructions on what to do about the banana. ಠ_ಠ

      • Martin Cohen

        Does that mean I have to take it out of my ear?

  • khaled mourad

    Mad Catz got another lovely range that the fit your finger size. check it out at their site, Yesterday announcement of the http://madcatz.com/te-range-august-12/

    Mad catz transformed itself into a quality player after acquired Saitek and Tritton and getting ride of the budget accessories.

    these two products are meant for on the move user for mobility and not longtime productivity. actually the Keyboard is great for Smart Tv and micro console access.

    so don't compare it to a regular keyboard. because it got more to give in a small mobile size., same for the headsets, you just didn't get the point of it.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      So you're telling me that the point of a keyboard isn't typing?

      • h4rr4r

        They are meant for typing on the go. Which you knew but instead decided to act like a jerkish little kid.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

          You've got to be kidding me. It's too small to type on. On the go, at home, at the coffee shop, in the car, on the porch, at the library, in the bathroom...everywhere. I reviewed this keyboard completely objectively, and it's just not useful in any real-world scenario. If you have to peck-type to get anything done, you might as well use a software keyboard and not waste the money on this one.

          • h4rr4r

            Many people liked the keyboard on the original Droid, this appears to be quite a bit bigger.
            A software keyboard makes pressing multiple buttons hard and has poor behavior when used for anything other than normal language.
            It also takes up considerable screen real estate. As well as lacking a great many keys. Hackers keyboard gets around some of that but it is still a poor substitute for even the smallest real keyboard.

  • h4rr4r

    I was hoping it was smaller. Since we can no longer get slide out keyboards I have really wanted a little bluetooth one for work.

  • ddh819

    are there any mobile games that this would actually be good for?

  • German Alonso Pimentel Vera

    What is this... a keyboard for ants?