“Plantronics” is no more—at least in theory. Having acquired Polycom in 2018, Plantronics took the opportunity a few months back to ditch its old name and rebrand as “Poly.” Why’d they change it? I can’t say. I guess someone liked it better that way.
But, uh…apparently the folks who designed this headset’s packaging didn’t get the memo: The box touts this as the Plantronics RIG 700HD, a follow-up (sort of) to the RIG 800LX we reviewed a few years ago. Slightly more durable, slightly cheaper, and I’d say, slightly better.
Only slightly, though.
Note: This review is part of our roundup of best gaming headsets. Go there for details on competing products and how we tested them.
Branding change or not, the RIG line continues to feel like it’s been kit-bashed together out of spare parts.
The sizing system is the culprit, I think. The earcups don’t simply slide up and down the headband like you’d expect. Instead, there are three holes machined into each side of the headband. You have to pop the earcups out, conscious the whole time that they’re held together in this in-between state by a single fragile wire, and then carefully punch them back into a new slot to make adjustments.
It’s wild. Reviewing the RIG 800LX, I said it had “one of the strangest sizing systems I’ve ever seen.” That’s underselling it though. I was baffled the first time I saw it, and I’m even more baffled that Plantronics has stuck with it for so long. It feels like a prototype, held together by 3D-printed plastic and prayers.
That said, it’s a very lightweight “prototype.” If I had to guess, that’s why Plantronics developed this system in the first place. It eliminates the weight of a metal headband and reinforced hinges, resulting in a RIG 700HD that weighs a mere 8.5 ounces. Battery, transmitter, all of it just a hair over half a pound. Miraculous is what we call that. It’s even lighter than the RIG 800LX, already one of the lightest headsets I’d ever held—though that comes at a cost, as we’ll get into later.
And Plantronics has refined its ad-hoc aesthetic somewhat over the years. The RIG 700HD still looks rough around the edges, but improves on the old 800LX by abandoning the floating headband style for a more traditional padded band. The difference in comfort is minimal given the RIG 700HD’s light weight, and it results in a sleeker silhouette overall.
Plantronics also scaled back on texture this time, abandoning the ribbed plastic of the 800LX for smooth piano black planes and curves. It’s easier to find the built-in controls as a result, though the back of the left ear is still very crowded: volume wheel, another wheel for mixing the game and chat levels, a power button, a MicroUSB charging port, and a mute button, all on one ear.
The chatmix wheel is a particularly welcome feature on a $130 headset. Not so long ago, those were…