Get a hands-on look at Altec Lansing's BackBeat 906 and 903 stereo Bluetooth headphones, announced at CES 2009.
Altec Lansing BackBeat Bluetooth headset
Altec Lansing's BackBeat Bluetooth headset offers stereo A2DP Bluetooth audio with AVRC control for compatible music players. The right earpiece offers a play/pause button for music control, while the left earpiece includes a call-answering button. A slim, spring-loaded rocker switch can be found on the underside of the right earpiece, which is used for volume control and track skip.
Overall, the construction feels very solid without being too heavy on the ears. All the components that touch the ear use a soft, comfortable rubber.
The BackBeat Bluetooth headset comes in two flavors: the BackBeat 906 ($129) and BackBeat 903 ($99). The difference between the two models is the inclusion of the Bluetooth transmitter (shown here with the iPhone), which is only offered with the BackBeat 906. The Altec Lansing Bluetooth transmitter uses a 3.5mm audio cable and recharges over a mini USB connection.
The transmitter isn't exceptionally pretty or small, but few standalone Bluetooth transmitters are. When used with the iPhone, you can stream stereo audio from the headphone jack, as well as answer incoming calls using the headset's microphone. Phone call conversations are heard in both ears in dual mono.
The silicone rubber ear tips used on the BackBeat Bluetooth headset aren't intended to completely seal the ear and isolate against sound. Rather, the tips swivel to fit loosely and comfortably in the ear, making them more comfortable to wear while walking or exercising. When music playback is muted, the headphones take advantage of integrated microphones to pipe in the sound of the world around you, making it easier to carry on a conversation without taking off the headset.
Overall, I thought the sound quality and call quality were good, keeping in mind the inherent limitations of Bluetooth audio. I'd need to spend more time with them before making any conclusive descriptions of their sound quality. A lot of what you're paying for is the convenience of wireless audio, and a design that is both comfy and stylish.