E3 2011: NOX Audio Admiral

E3 2011: NOX Audio Admiral

At first glance at the specs of the Admiral series of NOX headphones, you’ll wonder what audio source it can’t output. Truth is, there isn’t much it won’t play. With an optional NOX-custom Android OS on board, it’s upgradeable and customizable in a way that’s unique for headphones.

The NOX Audio booth at E3 had their Admiral spokesman T-Pain in attendance this year. While I didn’t see him, the Admiral can bring realtime pitch shifting to your Bluetooth audio. The company reps I spoke to stressed to me to not call it the T-Pain Effect, even if their fact sheet does.

The cans themselves can be placed on your shoulders around your neck and serve as loudspeakers, volume changing automatically. It’s capable of putting out 7.1 audio, though one wonders who currently has a 7.1 setup at home. It utilizes Wifi along with Bluetooth and can even be wired to the base station. Because the wireless technologies are so ubiquitous, so are the applications. Computers, consoles, phones and optical interfaces.

The headphones will have a six-hour battery life powered by rechargeable and replaceable Li-ion batteries. They’re easy to find online and can be switched out if you don’t want to go wired while the batteries are recharging. The charging itself is made simple with doing so via USB to the base station.

The Admiral alone won’t include Android as stock. However, a module can be obtained to convert it into the touchscreen version. The whole Admiral Touch package with the same 2.4 inch LCD screen will also be sold at retail as well. The touchscreen will have gesture control capabilities. While that’s a neat idea on paper, the functionality on the expo floor lacked. Simple pressing of on-screen icons took a few tries and even a stylus to get inputs to register. To NOX’s credit, it was likely an early build of the Android OS and these bugs can be worked out. Full swiping gesture control for adjustments while the headphones are planned. In theory, a few swipes will provide a wide range of control without having to look at the screen.

I foresee lots of tinkering and adding of apps with the Android starting point. For starters, it can utilize text-to-speech to read your schedules aloud. It will come preloaded with Skype and an Internet radio app. Let’s be honest, Skype on the headset itself is pretty cool. With the Internet radio and music storage on an SD card, it could just be a standalone music player if you wanted it to be. A player, not just a pair of headphones. While the cans are in the position they would be on your shoulders, they become speakers. Why wear when you can share.

We can’t wait to get our hands on a unit to see how it all comes together. The NOX Admiral and the Admiral Touch releases Q4 2011.

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