Plantronics BackBeat 903 review: Plantronics BackBeat 903

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Pricing Unavailable

The Good Lightweight. Good sound for music playback. Easy to set-up and use.

The Bad Tricky to fit. Mic location makes for a poor phone experience.

The Bottom Line Gym junkies will love the 903 for music playback during workouts, although its use as a hands-free device for phones is challenged by the position of the mic.

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Design and features

The stereotype of the technology lover is far from flattering. The World of Warcraft player in South Park sums up this cruel image best, as an overweight loner catching corn chip crumbs on his paunch, wearing a wrist guard to protect himself from carpal tunnel during day-long sessions of online gaming. In reality, technology lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and one of the key groups grabbing attention from tech vendors are gym junkies. Smartphone accessory departments are filling up with armbands to hold your phone while you run, and the various app stores each have dozens of exercise routine monitors and GPS cycling trackers.

The Plantronics BackBeat complements these workout-focused accessories a treat. Weighing only 35g, the 903 is a lightweight wireless headset using the Bluetooth A2DP profile to stream your music from your phone (or Bluetooth-enabled MP3 player) to its earbud speakers. It also makes use of the AVRCP Bluetooth profile, allowing you to use its external controls to skip music tracks and to adjust the volume of playback.

The design of this unit is perfect for its function, although it doesn't have the most appealing appearance. Accommodating the headset's internal battery means that the 903 looks similar to two black over-the-ear hearing aids connected by a short black cable. It's important to remember, though, that most of these units are concealed behind your ears when you wear it.

We found setting up the BackBeat headset to be extremely easy. After pressing and holding the power button until the headset's single LED flashed blue and red, indicating pairing mode, we hit the Bluetooth settings on our phone and selected the headset. Easy-peasy. Fitting the BackBeat was a little trickier, though. The hearing aid-like design doesn't slip onto your ears as easily as you might expect. We found that we had to push each ear under the loop, and then gently push the earbud into the entrance of the ear. This is far more work than slipping a pair of over-the-ear headphones on.

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Where to Buy

Plantronics BackBeat 903

Part Number: CNETPlantronics BackBeat 903

Typical Price: $149.95

See manufacturer website for availability.