Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 + Charging Case stereo Bluetooth headset review: A stereo Bluetooth headset done right

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
  • Overall: 8.0
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 9.0
  • Sound quality: 7.0
  • Value: 8.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The lightweight, reasonably priced Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 wireless stereo headset improves upon the Go 1, with better sound quality and a sweatproof design, The step-up BackBeat Go 2 + Charging Case includes a protective case that has a built-in battery for charging on the go.

The Bad Battery life isn't great (4.5 hours), so the inclusion of the Charging Case is an important extra.

The Bottom Line The inclusion of a charging case as part of this bundle helps the excellent Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 overcome its one serious weakness: short battery life.

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When I reviewed the original Plantronics BackBeat Go stereo Bluetooth headset back in 2012, I said it was easy to see how the product could be improved and that the next version of the BackBeat Go would be better and easier to recommend for what it cost ($79.99).

Well, I'm happy to report that with the BackBeat Go 2 Plantronics has fixed most -- though not all -- of the small flaws found in the original, and indeed, it is easier to recommend at its $79.99 price point.

Alas, the engineers didn't improve the so-so battery life (4.5 hours), but Plantronics is offering a battery extension solution in the form of a bundle that includes a charging case (BackBeat Go + Charging Case), so you can juice up on the go. If you already have an external battery charger for your phone, the $20 extra you'll spending for the charging case may not be worth it, but for a lot of folks it will be.

Design and features
This model looks very similar to the original BackBeat Go, which remains one of the smallest and lightest stereo Bluetooth headsets out there, featuring two slightly oversize earbuds joined by a flat, fettuccine wire that's designed to cut down on tangles. That said, Plantronics has made a few small changes to the design. For starters, the inline remote/microphone has been tweaked so the buttons are easier to operate by feel.

The headset has a cord between the two earpieces but the connection to your Bluetooth-enabled device is wireless. Sarah Tew/CNET

A closer look at those buttons reveals that the middle button serves as a call/answer end button, redial button, and it pauses your music during playback. The volume buttons do double duty as skip track forward/back buttons (you have to hold the volume up button down for a second to advance a track and hold the volume down button a second to restart a track).

It's also worth noting that after you pair the headset with your Bluetooth-enabled device once, it will remember the device and automatically pair with it. With Bluetooth activated on your device, you just have to hold down the call/answer end button for a second to turn the headphones on and they'll automatically pair after that. However, be sure not to hold the button down too long or the headphones will go into setup mode (for a new device) and won't automatically pair with the device you've already set up.

The inline remote/microphone has been redesigned. Sarah Tew/CNET

That may all sound a little complicated, but it isn't, and voice prompts alert you when the headset is on, when it's connected, and how full the battery is. A small, more accurate battery-life indicator for the headset is also displayed toward the top of the screen on iOS devices, though not Android phones.

One small change a lot of people won't notice is that Plantronics made the little LED on the earpiece brighter, so you can see it better now. It was hard to tell if the headset was charging because the LED was so faint, but now it's clearly visible (it changes from red to blue when the battery is fully charged).

The Go 2 also is available in white. Sarah Tew/CNET

Aside from the tweaks to the inline remote/microphone and LED, the other notable difference is that the earphones are now covered in a coating of P2i moisture-protection technology that makes them water-resistant, so you can sweat on them while you're working out or take them outside when it's raining. In the 10 days or so I used them, they seem to be pretty durable, but they're certainly not indestructible.

The final new feature addition is "DeepSleep hibernation mode," which allows the headset to hold a charge for up to six months, so you don't have to worry about the battery draining if you don't use them for a few weeks. How long that battery will last in the long run, I can't tell you, but it will eventually wear out and not take a charge, like all lithium batteries.

The USB charging port is hidden in the right earpiece. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Where to Buy See all prices

Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 + Charging Case (Black)

Part Number: BACKBEAT GO 2 BLACK + CASE Released: Jul. 23, 2013
MSRP: $99.99 Low Price: $85.95 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul. 23, 2013
  • Color black
  • Weight 0.5 oz
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features iPhone headset battery meter
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear