There's something quite endearing about this new Y-250C gaming headset from Thrustmaster. Somehow that cheery red colour scheme and those friendly curves make it feel like the new kid in school who turns up for after-school football in the wrong kit and has no idea how much he's going to get kicked for the next 90 minutes.
Thrustmaster's naivety in the headset market is painfully evident here with this Y-250C headset. And while it does tick the boxes you'd expect for a £50 product - detachable mic, generous cable length, control box and so on - you only need to put it on and listen to its unavoidable tinniness to grasp the sheer magnitude of that naivety.
"But look at my frequency response range," it says, as if it were the SATs results from its previous school (and yeah, we're giving headsets a first-person narrative now). "I've got loads of sub-bass! My response curve is nearer to the 'ideal' curve than two unnamed competitors."
Right enough, the 250C's sparkly high-end won't shirk the reproduction of harmonics and whispery 6KHz+ frequencies. But while it claims to delve deep into 10Hz, you certainly can't hear any power or warmth to the low-end in practice. Maybe it's the awkward just-about closed-cup ear pieces letting those low-end waves escape, but we're not buying that response curve emblazoned on the box.
We've pinpointed what makes these cans so uncomfortable to wear, too. It's a combination of overpadding on the headband and the diddy spherical ear pieces that appear to have been crafted for Shrek's ears. These two design errors conspire to make your experience uncomfortable from the outset, so even after just 10 minutes you develop an ache at the top of your skull.
Oww, my head
The overall build quality's well below what you'd expect at the price, which means there's not a rubberised finish, braided cable or brushed metal in sight. Even the mic has limited movement, given that it's comprised mainly of solid curved plastic with just a couple of centimetres of flexibility.
The sound quality's perfectly agreeable though - even in the absence of a foam shield - so the 250C's not totally bereft of plus points. While it's on a roll let's mention the perfectly functional control box with mic gain, mute and volume functions too.
If the Thrustmaster 250C headset had decent sound and build quality to back up its modest but acceptable features, we wouldn't feel the need to give it such a royal kicking. The thing is, we can't imagine anyone taking this headset home and feeling satisfied with their purchase - especially if that person knew what else is on the market at this price.
This Thrustmaster headset looks destined for that drawer of unloved gaming peripherals that were bought by some uninformed, but well-meaning relative - the kind of tech you only ever drag out and dust off only when something goes horribly wrong with your favourite gaming kit.