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Tech Review: BackBeat GO Headphones

Josh Smith

Lightweight, mobile, and easy to use. Those are the tenets for Plantronics new Bluetooth headset, the BackBeat GO. They’re made for those who enjoy music, can be paired with most smartphones and tablets, and the design is simplistic. Retailing at $99.00, the BackBeat GO look to appeal to users on the go; heck their name alone indicates that. But is the ease of use and simplicity worth the cost?

The design is unsophisticated: two ear buds connected via a 22” wire with a miniature control box used to power on/off, and control volume. That’s it. And that’s not to say the design is flawed, quite the opposite actually. WIth only four buttons, even users not accustomed to Bluetooth will master its use with little trouble. The internal battery is charged via micro-USB and takes two to three hours to charge fully from near dead. Once charged, users get around 4 hours of talk or listening time and up to 10 days of standby time — that is, with zero use this awesome anomaly of audio will still boot up and function after 10 days of no use.

The main concern users will notice is the size of the earbuds. Plantronics includes three sizes: big, bigger, and ‘ouch’. Even for users with large ear holes, the smallest setting can become uncomfortable after even short amounts of time. Additionally, some consumers seem opposed to anything relating to ear-buds, which is why Plantronics included a ‘stabilizer’ add-on in the box. For those of you concerned with earbuds that don’t sit comfortably in your ears, the stabilizer helps add leverage to ensure that when you’re walking, running, or even sitting, the earbuds stay where they’re supposed to.

But the audio is the reason you buy earbuds in the first place, and unfortunately the BackBeat GO leave room for improvement. Even with its impressive noise cancelling technology, the audio provided is dangerously low. It needs to be said that music, calls, and any other information being relayed via the headset is very crisp and clear, but the actual output is surprisingly low. Whether that’s intentional, to prevent damage to the ears, or is a design flaw is unknown.

The BackBeat GO are clever, lightweight, and deliver to the needs of most consumers. They can connect to most smartphones and tablets, weigh just 13 grams, and deliver impressive audio quality. But the questionable comfort and the ear-strainingly low audio makes them hard to recommend for users intending on using them as their primary headset.

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