Rapoo’s HS8020 is a wireless USB-connected headset for PC and Mac. The USB connection means it won’t work with devices such as smartphones, tablets, MP3 players or game consoles – this is a computer-only piece of hardware.
The HS8020 delivers clear sound across a wide volume range. It’s a little weak on bass, but that was the only complaint we had about audio quality. Sound leakage is surprisingly low given the design of the earpads, which sit flat over your ears rather than wrapping around them at all. You could listen to music in a cubicle-farm without bothering your neighbour, even at the higher end of the volume range.
A microphone hidden in the left ear lets you use the headset for voice chat. It works well in quiet rooms, but lacks the noise-cancelling found on good boom-mic headsets. Next to the TV at home, or in a noisy office, the mic picks up a lot of background noise.
Touch-sensitive controls on the outside of the left ear allow you to skip forward and backward in music players (such as Window Media Player or iTunes), and to adjust the volume up and down. Why touch controls are used is a complete mystery: they’re extremely difficult to use, as you’re left blindly poking at the side of your head looking for the right button. Traditional pushbuttons, with clear edges and tactile feedback, would have been infinitely more useful.
The headset is comfortable for short periods of wear. I found it better than average, in fact, as it didn’t squeeze the arms of my glasses against my head as full-earcup headphones do. However, after three or four hours of listening, the flat earpads really started to hurt my ears. They lack any padding beyond their faux-leather coating, and just aren’t suited to long-term wear.
Battery life is around eight hours on a single charge. The headphones charge via a standard mini-USB socket on the left ear, and can be charged while in use (essentially turning them in to regular corded headphones). A lightweight USB cable is included for this, but its one-metre length makes it impractical to actually wear-and-charge without a USB port right near your head, on your monitor or desk.
I found the HS8020 made a great occasional-use headset for the office: something you put on to listen to a YouTube clip, or join in on a Skype call, then take off again. For listening to music all day, or all-night gaming sessions, its usefulness really depends on whether it begins to flatten your ears as it did mine.