Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds
Christmas is just a week away and many of you might be looking for that last minute gift for under $100. Most mobile devices these days have Blutooth technology, yet many people don't use it. Pretty much everyone these days listen to music stored on their tablets, smartphones or laptop. Are they or you doing so with a traditional wired pair of headphones? Why not try listening to that music wirelessly with a good set of Bluetooth earbuds?
Plantronics has been in the audio business since 1961 when they started making lightweight headsets for both commercial airlines and NASA. The headsets were a success and Plantronics has created quite the business selling headsets over the past 52 years. Last year alone they brought in $762.2 Million in net revenue and the Santa Cruz, California based company employs 3,400 full time employees. Those numbers make Plantronics one of the largest audio communications companies in the country and they are one of the few companies left in the world that has engineers that design their own products from the ground up rather than changing the injection molds and slapping a new sticker on a product that someone else designed. One of those products is the Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds. These are the latest model of the company’s best-selling Bluetooth wireless stereo earbuds. They are available in your choice of either silver or black and run $69.99 shipped w/o the charging case or $89.99 shipped with the charging case.
- Talk/Listening time - Up to 4.5 hours listen/5 hours talk
- Standby time -Up to 6 Months
- Operating distance (range) - Up to 33 feet from phone or tablet
- Headphones weight -14 grams
- Audio - HQ custom SBC codec, 6mm neodymium speakers, Frequency response 20-20,000 Hz, Total Harmonic Distortion <5%, sensitivity 104 dBspl/mW @ 1 kHz
- Noise reduction -Digital Signal Processing (DSP) and full duplex echo cancellation
- Moisture protection -P2i nano-coating for sweat and moisture protection
- Charge connector - Micro USB charging
- Battery type -Rechargeable, non-replaceable lithium-ion polymer
- Charge time (maximum) -2.5 hours (Power requirements 5V DC - 180 mA)
- Bluetooth v2.1 -A2DP 1.2, AVRCP, HFP v1.5, HSP v1.1
- Operating, storage and charging temperature -32°F - 104°F (0°C - 40°C
We'll be taking a look at the Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Earbuds with the Charging Case in black today.
The Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 wireless earbuds come in very nice retail packaging with a front flap that opens to show the product inside. Right off the bat, you might notice that the earbuds are a bit larger than you might expect. Keep in mind that these earbuds have to house 6mm drivers, a battery and all the Bluetooth 2.1 components! It is rather amazing to use that Plantronics was able to stuff everything needed inside such a small space.
Inside the Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 packaging you'll find the earbuds, AC 100-240V wall charger, three sets of eartips, fit stabilizers and the portable charging case if you got that version. The fit stabilizers help keep the earbuds from slipping out of your ear and if you plan on running or working out with these earbuds, they are a must. If you don't have any issues with them coming out, then you can skip installing the fit stabilizers.
Plantronics includes a wall charger along with a micro-USB to a standard Type A USB data/charging cable. The charger housing is slim for easy packing, but most people these days likely charge USB devices from their laptop.
The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds are just over 25 inches in length and weigh just 14 grams. Our review sample came in black, but it is more like a 2-tone finish with black earbuds and in-line control with a gun metal gray cable. Plantronics designed these for people living an active lifestyle and coated them with a P2i military-grade nano-coating to protect with them against sweat, moisture, and spills. You ideally wear the BackBeat GO around the back of your neck, so you don't have too worry much about the cable dragging on your clothes and creating noise. The cable being used also doesn't knot easily, so that should be a relief for many as well. Once you select the right eartips, you just need to pair the headset. Plantronics has a great page with step by step instructions on how to do this for most devices here that is worth taking a look at if you need some pairing help.
Once you are paired you'll discover that the BackBeat Go 2 has a number of per-programmed voice alerts that lets you know about the battery status and what device is paired. The alerts are nice as it tells you if the device was properly turned on/off and how much battery is left without having to look or figure it out.
Just below the right ear bud, you will find a new and improved inline controller that features a noise-canceling MEMS (MicroElectrical-Mechanical System) microphone and three tactile buttons. The original BackBeat Go earbuds has a standard omni microphone, so we are happy to find out that it has been upgraded to a MEMS microphone. It should also be noted that Plantronics has raised up a bit more to allow you to better tell what their shape is without looking. These buttons are more than just stop and the volume adjustment as they also handle answer, decline, pause and play functions. The volume up that doubles as track forward by holding it down and you guessed it, holding down the volume down key reverses the track. The inline controller is pretty easy to use and you get quickly used to it. It should be noted that there is a Digital Signal Processor being used for the active noise and full duplex echo cancellation. Our use of the microphone found that it worked well in areas of low to moderate background noise, but that it isn't ideal for very noisy areas.
It should be noted that we did run into one quirk with this headset and that is when we had a call come in when we were listening to music on our Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone (Android 4.3). After we would hang up from the call there were times that the music sounded distant or like it was in a tunnel. The only fix for this that we could find was to disable Bluetooth on our phone and then re-enable it and it sounded fine again. This is an odd quirk and we don't know if it is on the phone side or something with the earbuds.
Plantronics also upgraded the 6mm drivers inside the BackBeat GO 2 earbuds with 3rd generation speaker technology with enhanced bass. Getting good bass out of small drivers on wireless headsets is tough, but the BackBeat GO 2 drivers do a great job when it comes to audio quality across the ranges. The sound is surprisingly full and clear even on vocal heavy tracks or action scenes in movies that have explosion sequences. If you are a big time audiophile, you will likely have some gripes, but the average person should find the audio quality more than acceptable.
There is a small rubber cover on the right ear bud that opens to reveal a hidden micro-USB charge port that is needed to charge its internal battery. There is also a tiny red/blue LED light on the side of the right ear bud that indicate its power/connectivity status. The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 is rated to deliver 4.5 hours of listening time, 5 hours of talk time or up to 6 months of standby time with its DeepSleep hibernation mode. The original Plantronics BackBeat GO earbuds had 30 minute lower listen/talk times and would last for up to just 10 days on standby. Plantronics was able to improve battery life across the board, which is very important for a wireless mobile headset.
Let's take a look at the charging case and wrap this review up!
The BackBeat Go 2 Charging Case and Conclusion
Plantronics knows that 4.5 hours of listening time isn't long enough for many, so they came up with a carrying case that has a built in battery charger. This charging case adds 10 hours of listening time, so you know have a total listening time of 14.5 hours. The theory behind this case is that most people won't be using the BackBeat GO 2 earbuds for 4 hours straight, so why not give people a place to safely store and recharge their headset? It sounds like a great idea to us and the case is rather compact and easily fits inside a backpack or purse. The case itself is made from ballistic nylon, which is a tough material that is often used on higher-end luggage and travel cases in the airline industry.
Here is a quick shot of the Plantroics BackBeat GO 2 plugged into the charging case and having the battery topped off. Notice the LED light on the side of the earbud is glowing red, which gives you a visual indication that the battery is being charged. The battery charges rather quickly as well, just a 20 minute recharge will give you another hour of listening time! You can charge both at the same time as there is support for pass-through charging to both the case and earbuds.
On the bottom of the charging case there is a micro-USB port that is needed to recharge the battery inside the case along with indicator lights showing you how much power is left.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds were found to be an excellent Bluetooth device and we love the mobility they give you. In this day and age you want to have wireless freedom and the BackBeat GO 2 does just that. Being able to walk up to 33 feet away from the device that you are connected to is nice if you've never been able to before. They look a little bulky, but springily stay in your ear rather well. Whether you are at work, home, gym or on the road, the BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds are up for the task and deliver solid quality audio. Not too many products are this versatile and it is tough to try to do it all. The Plantronics BackBeat Go 2's are a big step up from entry level earbuds and pretty much do it all. We also like the fact that this is the second generation product for the BackBeat Go product line, so all the initial bugs and issues have been worked out.
The biggest con that many will have this this set of earbuds will most certainly be the battery life. Five hours of talk time and 4.5 hours of stereo listening time is a pretty good chunk of time, but some might want more. The good news is that a 20 minute quick charge gives you an additional hour of listening time and a full recharge takes just 2.5 hours. If you think you'll be using them for more than 4 hours a day then it's a good idea to look the battery case or another way to keep them charged. Most people won't use them for 4+ hours straight as most people get ear fatigue with ear buds after just a couple hours. The Plantronics BackBeat Go 2's are comfortable, but we've never run across a pair of earbuds that we didn't feel good to take out after 3+ hours of use.
When it comes to pricing the BackBeat GO 2's run $69.99 shipped w/o the charging case or $89.99 shipped with the charging case. The charging case is something that we were sure about when we first started using the earbuds, but we learned to love it as the battery charger keeps you up and running for all day use. If you travel or think you'll be using the Bluetooth earbuds all day, the extra $20 up-sell is well worth it. Both versions come backed by a 1-year warranty.
Legit Bottom Line: The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 wireless earbuds give you everything that you want in a bluetooth headset with respectable battery life!