When Plantronics rolled out its first BackBeat FIT fitness-focused wireless earbuds at the end of 2014, the audio industry sat up and took notice. The FIT quickly moved into the annals of Consumer Electronics Association fame after being named a 2015 CES Innovation Award winner.
Plantronics was likely delighted to earn rave reviews and may not have expected negative feedback so soon afterward. But they came. Complaints ran the gamut from “they keep slipping out of my ears” to “they hurt so much, I just can’t stand them.”
While not every shopper complained, I had concerns about whether or not I wanted to review the newest FIT, recently rolled out by Plantronics, for myriad reasons. What if they don’t stay in my ears or hurt? Well, I concluded, let’s see how they work for me.
Happily, I can attest to the fact that going back to the drawing board was just what the doctor ordered. The latest version of the FIT got a few thumbs up from me and since I’m typical of athletes who count on their devices to distract them, I’m glad I decided to check the device out.
Everything Old is New Again
I found the latest iteration of the FIT to be new and improved from the get-go. This device is easy to use, contours nicely to my head (not that my head is an odd shape, mind you!), they’re sweat proof and feel comfortable while delivering superior sound quality.
The new device allows me to stoke up the volume when a tune that gets my legs pumping starts to play, yet I’m still aware of what’s going on around me, so I don’t wind up dodging traffic or dog leashes when I run in urban areas.
Is the music reception flawless when I move from app to app? Not always, but this is an insignificant factor as far as I’m concerned and I blame circumstances over which I have no control.
If I’m being very good, I try to get in around 40 miles a week and mix it up between trail and city, so on my longer runs, I had a chance to test out the battery life and so far, no complaints.
Speaking of complaints, I doubt that last year’s dissatisfied FIT owners would complain about the new version of the FIT because these stay put in my ears. End of story.
- Original FIT devices garnered lots of complaints about slippage due to sweating, and I’m happy to report that the new headset design meets IP57 standards courtesy of a nano-coating that meets my waterproofing standards.
- The flexible neckband design is so lightweight, neither stability nor comfort were issues for me.
- A single charge gets my 8-hour battery energized long enough to cover my full week of workouts.
- Because the ear tip has been re-designed to allow just enough outside noise to reach my ears, I stay safe and aware, no matter where I run.
- Not every runner is going to be willing to spend around $130 on a headset, no matter how sophisticated and improved the new FIT may be over the earlier version, thus price could be a deal breaker.
- Some wearers still experience sore ears after wearing the new FIT device, but a few chose to stick with them because they were impressed by the unit’s ability to repel sweat and let in enough outside noise to keep them safe.
- Multiple reviewers are urging Plantronics to come up with “replacement buds for a better seal,” so if product developers heed this call, the BackBeat FIT could attract even more fans.
Let me say from the get-go that “fit” is the overriding argument for and against investing US$129.99 in the Plantronics BackBeat FIT, so I began looking at ears from a different perspective as I began this review and found it somewhat ironic that the company would pick FIT as a style name.
For me, the FIT fit. And I love the fact that Plantronics’ war cry is “Unstoppable: No wires. No limits. No excuses.”
That stated, these are my reasons for reviewing this product favourably: The battery lasts a long time. The sweat proof nano coating is a big step up from the original model. And I feel safe because I know that outside noise that can threaten not just my run but my life is going to register and keep me safe.
Ear fit issues aside, FIT electronics are high-quality, headset colour options are vibrant, the companion app is free and I love the voice alerts that tell me how much time I have left before I must re-charge the sturdy battery.
Congrats to Plantronics for listening to consumers and being responsive. Keep listening. That’s the way to do business in this day and age of heavy competition!
Do you consider yourself a savvy consumer? Do you wait for new audio products to stick around on the market before you decide to buy, or are you somewhat impetuous—eager to own the latest and greatest as soon as it hits store shelves?
The Plantronics Backbeat FIT is available locally at the following locations.