A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by eBuyer, asking if we would like to give some of their Element Gaming PC peripherals a trial and review them for you lovely people. Naturally, I said yes, and after a week or so with both, here’s what I think about them.
Products Element Gaming Thorium 200 Keyboard (£14.99), Element Gaming Xenon 700 Headset (£44.99)
I’ll start with the Thorium 200 keyboard. Essentially an entry level priced wired gaming keyboard, the Thorium 200 is a membrane based keyboard with blue LED backlighting across the whole unit. There are multimedia focused function keys along the top, but on the whole it’s pretty much a standard layout.
How you react to the symmetrical design of the Thorium 200 is purely down to personal taste. After going back and forth over the last week, I’m still on the fence with it. It doesn’t stand out much amongst the crowd, but at the same time it’s subtle enough to blend in with most setups. The blue backlight is customisable, so you can make it as bright as you need, or make it gently pulse if you’re inclined to do so. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of blue LEDs, but the default level of light emitted from the keyboard is a nice level, which makes it easy enough to hit the right keys at the right moments. The keys feel responsive enough, and there’s a nice enough throw to them that provides a surprisingly satisfying “click” for a keyboard in this price range.
Possibly the biggest downside to the Thorium 200 is the build quality. The first thing that I noticed when I took it from the box was that it definitely doesn’t feel as sturdy and solid as you’d first hope. There’s a lot of flex and bend to the keyboard, and it’s slightly unnerving when you first notice it. It actually flexes to a point where the arrow keys can get caught on the top shell of the enclosure and make a definite “pop” as it rotates back into shape and catch on the edge of the keys, which is a little disappointing. Having said that, you’re not going to be manhandling your keyboard in that way during most gaming sessions, no matter how frustrated you get!
The same cannot be said, however, about the Xenon 700 headset. From the moment you pluck it out of the box, the weight feel and sturdy construction suggests it commands a much higher price point than the £45 it asks for. The only thing that highlights the value cost is the volume/light switch, seated somewhere down the cable, which does seem a bit on the lightweight side. However, this is a minor quibble when you plug it in and start letting it fill your head with sound. It is a fantastic sounding headset that, again, far outstrips the expectations of a headset at this price. Sibilance and top end is crisp and well defined, with the bottom end genuinely seeming to boom from places unknown through your skull. The spatial reproduction of the headset is very good too, with manic multiplayer sessions assisted with accurate depictions of where enemies are with impressive virtual surround sound.
There are some quirks to the headset that I could live without, however. The fact that the audio is carried via USB (and USB only) means that it doesn’t carry a separate volume control for game audio and chat (like some other headsets on the market), and if you want to monitor your own audio, it will carry a hefty delay. On the hardware side, there are some LEDs that will probably split people down the middle. Personally, as mentioned above with the keyboard, I could do without them. I’m not a fan of garish lighting on products, particularly with a glossy finish on my primary gaming TV. The light reflects off the screen at the best of times, and with the Xenon providing a slow-fading set of colours that wouldn’t seem out of place at a school disco, it’s quite distracting. However, it is entirely optional, and a simple button press away to turn it off, so it’s not a deal breaker by any means.
Whilst I really like the somewhat industrial design of the Xenon 700 (in particular the mic boom, which looks like a T-800 got hold of a Meccano set), the weight could prove an issue for some. For me, it’s fine, and certainly doesn’t feel overly heavy during longer play sessions, but compared to the likes of the Sony Gold headset and several other high end ones, it is definitely much more substantial. If you don’t mind a larger headset, this could be perfect for you.
Whilst marketed as a PC headset primarily, the Xenon 700 also works on the PS4. You’ll need to send all of the audio down to the headset, and adjusting the volumes may be a bit tricky (as with the PC, there are no separate volume controls on the headset itself), but it’s an option to consider.
Element Gaming are a relatively small name in the gaming peripheral market, but with EBuyer behind them, there is a lot of potential. The Thorium 200 keyboard is my first “gaming” keyboard, and after giving it a thorough test, it’s hard to recommend above some others that I’ve tried but not owned with similar price points. Whilst it feels nice enough to use, the build quality worries me a little bit. Having said that, I have owned several gaming headsets over the last few years, and the Xenon 700 definitely punches well above its weight. For the money, I think it’s a great deal. It’s sturdy, it looks the part (LEDs aside), and it sounds fantastic. If you don’t mind your peripherals having a bit of heft to them, the Xenon 700 is definitely worth your consideration if you’re in the market for a new headset.
Thorium 200 Keyboard: 6/10
Xenon 700 Headset: 8/10
We were contacted by eBuyer about reviewing these products, and they were provided to us for review purposes