Let’s face it – any wired earbuds just aren’t cut out for exercise. I’ve gone through more than my fair share looking for the perfect pair to run and workout with, and have always come up empty.
So I usually end up either living with the indignity of tangled wires or leaving my iPhone at home.
And while wireless headphone options have been around for a while, they have mostly been over priced or just plain unwieldy. But Plantronics, known for its line of Bluetooth headsets, has come to save the day with the recently released BackBeat GO.
First, to say the BackBeat GO is tiny would be an understatement. Weighing a little less than half an ounce, it feels as light as a wired set of headphones. The only clue about the Bluetooth technology and battery is in the longer-than-normal earbuds.
I was afraid, at first, that the extra length of the earbuds would be an issue. But after getting to use them for a few weeks, I can definitively say it did not bother me at all. I did numerous running sessions and other workouts, and the earbuds never fell out once, which was very nice.
And while Plantronics states the battery should be good enough for four hours of listening time, I was able to routinely exceed that during my testing, getting up to around five hours of music on one charge while playing music at around 50 percent volume. The battery is also rated for up to 4.5 hours of talk and 10 days of standby.
The sound is also a plus. While it’s not on par compared to headphones, like the Logitech UE 4000 I recently reviewed, the earbuds did an admirable job of playing my music and streaming Spotify. The audio produced was a strong and clear stereo sound that was very nice on all volume levels and with different music genres.
Charging the BackBeat GO is also pretty simple. You can use the included charger or any other micro USB cord you have lying around. A protective cover on the right earbud comes off to reveal the charging port. Status lights inform you when the earbuds are fully charged. The earbuds turn on with a control stick near the right earbud. You can also turn the volume up and quickly change music tracks with the stick.
While using the earbuds, an icon on your iOS device’s status bar shows how much battery is remaining.
While I was generally pleased with the BackBeat GO, there were a few downsides. The headphone cord is flat and should resist getting tangled. It is designed to be worn around the back of your neck, but it felt at times a little short.
Also, like with many earbuds, it may be hard to find a pair that fit well in your ears. Plantronics includes three sizes of very soft cushioned tips and stabilizers to help. After trying out a few different combinations, I was able to find a good match that made a nice seal in my ears. But your mileage may vary.
With a line-in microphone on the control stick, you can also place and receive calls with an iPhone. With my iPhone 5, callers sounded fine through the earbuds, but I was told my voice was muddled and a little hard to understand at times. But it wasn’t any worse than many other Bluetooth calling solutions. The volume button is also so small on the control stick that it was difficult to change it to my liking during calls.
Even with those issues, I think Plantronics did a great job with the BackBeat GO. They are very light, comfortable, and sound good for a pair of wireless earbuds. I’m glad to say I’ll be listening to music during my runs from now on.