It's hard to design really small wireless Bluetooth earphones because you have to cram a battery and some extra electronics into a compact housing the size of something that's not much bigger than, well, an earbud.
That's a challenge Plantronics has managed to overcome with its new $99.99 BackBeat Go wireless stereo headset, which the company has just started shipping to stores. It's one of the smallest and lightest stereo Bluetooth headsets out there, with two slightly oversize earbuds joined by a flat, fettuccine wire that's designed to cut down on tangles.
I've been playing around with these for a few days and overall they're fairly comfortable, though I had to experiment with the included eartips to get a tight seal (three sizes of eartips and two loop stabilizers are included). Sound quality was decent, though a bit restrained (most likely due to the earphones small size). It's also worth mentioning that Bluetooth does compress audio files and has a tendency to flatten out your music, leaving it sounding less dynamic. That was the case here as well.
A microphone is integrated into the cord as part of an inline remote, which works with both Android and Apple iOS devices.
This isn't the first Plantronics stereo Bluetooth headset. TheStereo Bluetooth Headset is still on the market, but that larger model is sweat-resistant and can be used for more active workouts. The company told me that the BackBeat Go is for more casual use, for someone who's simply "on the go."
The earphones charge via USB and offer only about 4.5 hours of listening time, which isn't great (again, it's hard to get a bigger battery in such a small unit). But apart from that and the other small drawbacks I noted, the BackBeat Go has a lot to like about it.
I'll have a full review up shortly, but for now, have a look at the product's key specs and Plantronics hipster marketing video below:
- Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
- A2DP profile for audio streaming
- AVRCP profile for music controls
- 6mm neodymium speakers
- Up to 4.5 hours of listening/talk time
- Up to 10 hours of standby time
- Onscreen battery meter
- Pairs with any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone or device
- Price: $99.99