by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
So, we have been trying to break into doing more hardware reviews, but this one is kind of special. I’m a person afflicted with chronic migraines and serious hearing loss in my left ear. So audio stuff is typically far out of my purview because I can’t hear in stereo. Then I heard about the Atari Speakerhat. Yes, that’s a real thing. No, I’m not making it up. It’s less a “hat” and more “amazing audio technology”. I was admittedly a little skeptical about it because I had concerns. Would I be able to hear it okay? Would it be heavy to wear on my head? So I feel like I’m the best person to review it. This probably won’t be a super in-depth review, but I do want you guys to know that I love it. The way it works is that it has a pair of speakers in the bill of the cap, which does have a bit of protection versus the elements. I wouldn’t wear it in a torrential downpour, in the snow or something, but it would likely be fine to wear on your head if it’s sprinkling. After all, it is Bluetooth tech and High-Quality audio, so you would not want to potentially ruin it. I also love that this particular hat is branded with the Japanese Atari logo from Bladerunner 2049. This is significant as it’s officially licensed, and in the film, Atari is one of the only major companies still around. It’s topical, and I also love Bladerunner. Kudos to them!
So you pair it with your phone, and you’re ready to go! Press the button, sync it up and you’re all set. It has a micro-USB cable to hook up to it to charge it, but it does have a pretty good battery life. I have to say, it’s very comfortable. I expected it to be far heavier on my head than it was. So I did a few tests, and wore it for a few hours, listening to a variety of music and volumes to see how I liked it. I didn’t have to have my volume all the way up to hear it which is a godsend for me. From Blind Guardian to Aesop Rock, it has plenty of speaker power for anyone. But you can crank it up and it there isn’t any distortion or issue. The concept behind the hat is having “technology hiding in plain sight”. It does just that too! There are no wires or cables, and it isn’t immediately obvious that it’s a speaker hat, unless they can look under the brim of it. Though it does come with a microphone if you want to issue commands or have a phone conversation in your car/wherever. They come in four styles (mine is the Bladerunner 2049 limited edition) but there’s also Fuji Blackout and two “Atari” logo hats. There are more on the way based on other Atari IPs (Sword Quest? Please?).
All told, I love this hat. And I hate wearing hats. The audio is crystal clear, I could get my audio from games, Youtube, phone calls, whatever on it. It’s got full Bluetooth compatibility, so there are tons of things you can sync it up to and enjoy quality sound if you want to change up how you listen to music. I cannot stress enough how cool it looks, how comfortable it is, and how clear the audio is for me. As someone who can only hear in one ear, I found I actually hear better wearing it, than I do my headphones. I also have to say, I love the collectible box it came in. A very sharp hardware style box with the Atari logo on it. Normally boxes just go in the trash, but this one is heavy, sturdy, and deserves to be displayed in a public place. Frankly, I’m glad to see that Atari is making such a strong comeback in the technology world. Between this and the Ataribox, they’re putting out some truly impressive work! I grew up in the 80s (born in 81), and even though I did not have an Atari 2600 (I went right to the NES). Despite that, Atari has always been a big part of my life, and when I saw things sort of drop off with the Jaguar, I was disappointed. I won’t lie. But I do feel that Atari’s making a comeback. The standard hat is 129, and the Bladerunner Hat is 139, and can both be purchased at this link.
5/5, would recommend to anyone.