I first reviewed Plantronics' BackBeat Fit wireless sports headphones way back in 2014. I said that while it may not have been perfect, it was one of the best wireless sports headphones available at the time. Thanks to a reasonable price, a secure fit and an open design that appealed to runners, Plantronics has sold a lot of these headphones in the last four years.
The headphone has had some tiny updates and more color options, but it's basically remained the same. Now there's a successor -- the BackBeat Fit 2100 ($100) -- and while it's definitely an upgrade over the original, it's not so different. Plantronics clearly didn't want to fix what wasn't broken.
Like the original, the Fit 2100's eartips aren't designed to be jammed all the way into your ears, sealing off the outside world. Rather, these are designed to let some ambient noise in so you can hear traffic if you're running or biking with them outside. Look closely and you'll see they resemble standard hard buds, with a firm silicon covering that has a little loop on it that helps keep the earphone in your ear.
Though they sound decent enough, these really aren't the greatest sounding headphones -- they don't have much bass and don't deliver the cleanest, clearest sound. They also aren't suited to noisy environments because they let too much sound in, similar to Apple's AirPods . But they're still one of the better headphones for running.
What are the biggest changes? For starters, Plantronics has made them more durable, with iP57-rated water resistance (they're apparently sweatproof and waterproof). It's also improved the way you control the headphones.
The left earpiece has touch-sensitive controls for volume. You tap on the outside of the left earpiece to raise volume and touch and hold to lower volume. It works very well.
On the right earpiece you'll find a physical button that you press and hold to turn on the earphones (or turn them off). Pressing the button once pauses your music, double tapping advances a track forward and triple tapping skips a track back. The button is easier to operate than the one on the original BackBeat Fit Wireless.
A new My Tap feature allows you to create a custom shortcut through the BackBeat app to, say, start a stopwatch or select your favorite playlist directly from the earphones.
Although I would have liked to have seen an upgrade to the sound, I think fans of the headphone will be generally pleased with the changes. I'll have a full review once I've spent a little more time with the BackBeat Fit 2100.
In the meantime, here's a look at its key features:
- 13.5mm drivers
- IP57-rated durable, designed to be sweatproof and waterproof through pure design (and not P2i coating as done previously)
- Stay visible in the dark with the reflective finish
- Up to 7 hours of wireless listening between charges
- New My Tap lets you customize features through the BackBeat app. Set a timer, start a stopwatch or select your favorite playlist directly from your earbuds without ever interrupting your workout
- Hear your surroundings with Always Aware eartips for safer training in any environment
- Bluetooth 5.0
- One contact-sensitive button for all your controls
- Compatible with BackBeat app
- Four colors: black, lava black, gray and blue
- Price: $100 (no word yet on international pricing, but we'll add it as soon as we get it)