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I listen to a lot of music and podcasts. The situations in which I'm listening vary – when I'm running, at the gym, at a cafe working, doing laundry, cooking meals, working in the garden, or grocery shopping. And of course, I play music and podcasts when I'm at my desk working.
For a long time I've been bothered by wired headphones and earbuds. The earbuds that come with the Apple iPhone sound fine to me, they're just inconvenient to use because the cord is a hazard in just about every situation. I often end up running the cord down the inside of my shirt to keep it out of the way. The earbuds also have a habit of falling out while I'm running, so I spend half my run pushing them back in. I've tried replacing them with a cheap set that hooked over the ears but they still wouldn't sit in the ear properly.
Finally I'd had enough and decided to go shopping for some new wireless headphones or earphones. I quickly ruled out the wireless Beats, due to the price being a bit too high for me. So I went on Twitter, and quickly got the recommendation to check out the Plantronics Backbeat Fit. I checked out a few online reviews, and then picked up a pair today while I was at the mall.
They come with a charging cable, and a storage pouch that you can turn inside out and strap to your arm to hold your phone while you're running. There's also a little key holder inside the pouch. My old running armband is nearly falling apart so that was a convenient addition to the package.
The headphones themselves are flexible, they're not the hard wrap-around style. I prefer the flexibility, makes them easier to pack away or shove into a pocket when I'm not using them.
Now, I normally wouldn't comment on a tech product until I've had a chance to really try it out. But as luck would have it, today I got to try my new Plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones in several situations that I would want to use them in. They didn't require any charging to get started. In fact, a nice touch is that when you turn them on, a voice tells you how many hours of charge is remaining.
So, I paired them with my phone, then left the phone in my office while I walked around the house listening to some music to test the range. There were no dropouts inside the house, so I went outside. I spent about an hour outside cleaning the pool, listening to music from my phone upstairs the entire time. Our house has a few characteristics that tend to interfere with wireless networks, but the Bluetooth connection for the headphones worked fine. I'd say I got about 20m away from my phone, before there were a few dropouts. When I stepped into the garden shed they dropped out entirely. But all up, the range seems to be very good, so now I don't need to keep my phone in my pocket all the time just to listen to music and podcasts around the house.
Later in the afternoon I wore the BackBeat Fit for a run. Once I got the hang of the volume and play/pause controls they worked perfectly. Running with music, but without a cable getting tangled on my arm and earphones falling out, turned out to be very enjoyable.
On the ear, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit headphones are comfortable. There was no chance to try them in the store – they didn't have any open packages, and no demo units (hygiene reasons), so it was a bit of a gamble buying them. I'm still getting used to hooking them on my ears, there's a bit of fumbling involved, but I imagine I'll get used to that quickly.
I had a brief moment of buyer's remorse when I realized I hadn't thought about wearing them with sunglasses at the same time. Thankfully there's no issues, at least not with my ears. My sunglasses fit just fine with the headphones on.
I've just taken the BackBeats off as I'm writing this post. In total I would say I wore them for about 4 hours today. They only just started getting uncomfortable now, after I've been listening to podcasts for the last 2 hours. I think that's a pretty good amount of use for any given day.
From the reviews on Amazon it looks like I'm not alone in liking the Plantronics BackBeat Fit wireless headphones. Shout out to @simone_au and others on Twitter who recommended them to me. Much appreciated.
Update: after a little over a month of solid use I'm very happy with these headphones. There's been one occasion at the gym when I got some static coming through to my ears. A reboot of the headphones fixed that. Possibly just a bad signal, or some interference in the gym I was in at the time (lots of other wireless headphone users around). The only other problem I have is that I often forget to power them off when I quickly take them off to do something, and then if I make or answer a call the audio goes through the headphones which might be in another room of the house. That's my problem though, not the fault of the headphones, and the long battery life makes up for it.