Back in March, Plantronics announced the BackBeat Fit ($130), a sportier version of their Backbeat Go 2 Bluetooth headphones designed to withstand the abuse of regular fitness workouts (and confirmed sweaty lawn mowing! :-). I’ve been evaluating these headphones the past few weeks and wanted to share a rundown of features and my overall opinion.
When you unpack the BackBeat Fits, they come with the headphones themselves, a carrying pouch that doubles as an armband for your phone, and a micro USB cable and charger. The headphones use Bluetooth 3.0 for connectivity which gives you a range of 33ft from your device. As with most new Bluetooth devices, the pairing process was easy with an iPhone 5s. You simply go to the Bluetooth setting page, turn on the BackBeat Fit which goes into pairing mode, and then select the headphones to pair. The BackBeat fit can also remember up to 8 different devices for pairing so it’s easy to switch between multiple sources if needed.
For the iPhone, there is a battery meter in the status bar at the top which allows you to know how much juice you have left. The BackBeat Fit is rated for 8 hours of batter time when listening to music, or up to 6 hours of talk time. When not in use, the headphones can last up to 14 days on standby. Once I had fully charged the headphones, I did not need to recharge them for a for at least that long. The headphones will go into a battery saving mode once it has detected that the device is out of range or not paired.
As for other features, the BackBeat Fit comes with a companion app called BackBeat Fit Updater which can be found on iTunes and Google Play. This ensures that future enhancements and compatibility for the product. Having these companion apps is starting to become the norm for Bluetooth connected devices and is a welcome addition.
Fit and Sound and Use
To be upfront, the BackBeat Fit headphones were a bit too large to wear comfortably for extended periods. The headphones are one solid piece and to make the Fits water resistant, Plantronics need to have a closed housing on the actual ear pieces. This means that they are not adjustable (much like the new Apple EarPods), and you can not swap out the ear pieces for different sizes. This also means I sometimes had issues with getting a solid fit which directly affects the sound quality. The headphones always seemed a bit loose in my ears, but that was probably a good thing for running as I was able to hear things around me.
Saying that, the BackBeat Fits are actually very bendable and the material used has a soft matte finish. The headphones themselves wrap around your ear and then around the back of your neck. The headphones never rubbed my skin the wrong way when working out or just using them casually. Other sport headphones I have tried would start to snag on your skin after getting a little moisture. The BackBeat Fit did not have this issue.
On the left side of the headphones is a Play/Pause button which is used to start/stop music and activate Siri or Google Voice commands. There is a smaller button above the Play/Pause which controls the volume. On the right side is the Call button which allows you to answer calls and also activate voice commands through Siri or Google Voice command.
Despite the slight fit issue I seemed to have, I was always able to listen to music and podcasts, just with a little less warmth than I was used to because of the seal. If you are looking for a set a headphones that can be used while working out, you should give the BackBeat Fit headphones a try. They can take a beating and continue to perform.