Runners and fitness freaks, take note: you don’t need to rely on boring basic earphones any longer, as Plantronics updates a pair, making them more suitable for exercise than ever before.
Following up from the previous efforts of Plantronics in the fitness sector, the BackBeat Fit improves on the over-ear design used in some of the company’s other products by making everything smaller, thinner, and more resistant to the elements.
Some of the staples synonymous with Plantronics products are here, such as a microphone for talking to people while you’re out, and a sound codec setup to deliver decent sound across the stereo headphones while you move. Like previous Plantronics fitness earphones, the Fit are also cordless, relying on Bluetooth 3.0 to talk to a phone.
The ear tips have been improved to stay in place as you move, a big deal to anyone who has ever moved their head or body when they’ve worn ear- or headphones, while both the interior and exterior have been coated with a water-resistant nano-coating called P2i, which we’re told is rating for IP54, translating to dust-proof with resistant to small amounts of water splashes (rain and sweat should be fine, but showering or swimming may end up killing the earphones).
There’s also a strong battery here with some solid sleep programming, because while it’s possible to get up to eight hours of talk and music playback time from the earphones, the BackBeat Fit can be switched off and left with a decent charge for as much as six months.
And there’s even a case for the headphones thrown in which can be inverted (read as reversed) and used as a phone case with arm strap, useful for anyone interested in doing exercise.
In our brief play with the BackBeat Fit, it’s easy to see it has some things going for it.
One of these is the resistance to bends and tangles, which shows not just that the BackBeat Fit can handle its own in your hand or backpack, but also that it’s been built to survive a bit of a beating.
From the initial glance, it appears to have a better build than the previous BackBeat 90x models, which this journalist has gone through a couple of models thanks to the section design on the old models, which can separate at the ears from overuse.
Here, however, the connections look stronger, with the material coating the headphones feeling more solid and linked better.
The earphones have taken a different route, too, with the over-ear design still used, but now a in-ear phone style that doesn’t have to be inserted all the way. Tested with our headphone set of test tracks, the music sounds reasonably balanced, though it’s not as loud as you might expect due to how much ambient sound you can hear outside the earphones.
Consider these the earphone option for running if you want to hear the outside world, or for cycling if you need to listen to the world around you, and with reflector paint on the back, that makes sense for that last one, too, when you hit the streets at night.
One other area that impresses us is the value add, with the earphone pouch also serving as a smartphone case for your arm, which is usually what runners and joggers rely on when they go running.
While it might not have a window, it will save you a few quid, especially if you don’t have one, but don’t expect to throw a big phone in here. It’s clear from the design that Plantronics built this with the iPhone in mind, and while we could fit a 2014 HTC One in, it was a tight squeeze.
We won’t even attempt a phablet here. We just won’t.
If the idea of sweat-resistant fitness ready earbuds grabs you, especially with an armband-strapped case thrown in, you’ll find the Plantronics BackBeat Fit earphones in blue or green, in stores for $159 RRP from July 1 at Rebel Sports, with other retailers — such as Officeworks and JB HiFi — stocking the earphones shortly after that.