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Plantronics releases 3 new true wireless headphones, one of which is really good

The company's BackBeat line adds a new family of cord-free models along with a new over-ear sports headphone.

The new Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Last year, Plantronics got off to a shaky start in the true wireless arena. Its BackBeat Fit 3100 earbuds were hampered by connectivity issues and weren't particularly well received. But its just-released BackBeat Fit 3150 ($150, £130, AU$249) and BackBeat Fit 3200 ($150, £130, AU$249) work much more reliably. Meanwhile, the new BackBeat Pro 5100 ($170, £160, AU$299), the first true wireless model in the company's BackBeat Pro line, competes well with other premium true wireless earphones. It's also one of the best true wireless headphones I've used for making calls.

Both the BackBeat Fit 3150 and BackBeat Fit 3200 share similar designs and incorporate an ear hook to help keep the earphones on your ears during sporting activities. Headphones such as the Beats Powerbeats Pro also feature an ear hook, but these models are less expensive.

The BackBeat 3200 have noise-isolating eartips.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The BackBeat Fit 3150 has an open design that lets ambient noise in (a safety feature for runners) while the BackBeat Fit 3200 has a noise-isolating design that helps improve the sound quality, particularly the bass. That said, both models have the same drivers so they produce the same sound -- you just hear it differently thanks to the design of the ear tips.

Like the Powerbeats Pro, the knock against these headphones is that they have large charging cases that aren't really pocket friendly. However, the BackBeat Pro 5100, which is much more compact, is a different story -- it's clearly the best of Plantronics new true wireless models bunch (the company also introduced a new over-ear headphone, the BackBeat Fit 6100 for $160, £150 or AU$299).

At $170, it's priced similarly to the Jabra Elite 65t and sounds just as good, if not slightly better. As I said, it also performs very well as a headset, with callers telling me they heard only minimal background noise when I was speaking to them from the street. It's rated for 6.5 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels, plus the case is good for an additional 13 hours. Alas, the case charges via micro-USB not USB-C, but adding USB-C would have probably popped the cost up to closer to $200.

BackBeat Fit 6100.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Here's a quick look at the new models, with key specs noted. I'll post a full review of the BackBeat 5100 by mid September. Note that CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.

The BackBeat Pro 5100 is the premium model in Plantronics' true wireless line up. Along with very good sound, it's IPX54 certified (splashproof with some resistance to dust), has four noise-canceling mics and WindSmart technology that helps tune out background noise. Each earbud can carry a charge of up to six and a half hours plus an additional 13 hours of power with the pocket-sized charging case. Available now in black.

The next-generation model following the BackBeat Fit 3100. Plantronics says these true wireless sport earbuds are "designed for outdoor fitness enthusiasts who enjoy urban running." The BackBeat Fit 3150 is also sweatproof and IP57-rated waterproof for "extreme weather conditions." It includes Always Aware ear tips that allow ambient sound in so you can hear traffic around you while running. Additional features can be activated with on-ear controls. Battery life is rated at 8 hours with an additional 16 hours from the charging case. Available now in black and black-blue.

Another sports model. The big difference between this and the 3150 is its noise-isolating eartips that "offer an immersive listening experience both in and out of the gym." It's IP57-rated waterproof and an "Awareness" mode gives you the option to have sound leak in so you can hear what's going on around you. Battery life is rated at 8 hours with an additional 16 hours from the charging case. Available now in black and teal.

The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated water-resistant and sweatproof design, 40 mm angled drivers, and noise-isolating earcups with an "Awareness" mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. Available now in black, camo and gray.