Saturday, December 31, 2011

Plantronics Backbeat 903+

It's been a while since I've reviewed a bluetooth headset so here it is... the Plantronics Backbeat 903+. This one's a unique one too. It's all about music with calling as a bonus. It's seems to be the perfect solution for wirelessly listening to the music you've got stored on your phone or other bluetooth devices, but how does it really perform? How's the music sound? Does it do phone calls well enough to make it worth-while or has the focus taken over and made the functionality of the phone suffer in return? Find out in the full review below...

- iPhone battery meter
- Audio iQ2 noice cancellation
- Micro-USB charging port
- Up to 7 hours talk time and 5-6 hours of playing music
- Wind reduction
- Volume, track back/forward, play/pause, and phone keys located on headset for easy use
- Adjustable ear loops for different sized ears (although there's only one sized earbud and it's not interchangeable)

During my time using the Plantronics Backbeat 903+ I've been testing it in a lot of situations. I also know a lot of people that have them and have been using them longer than I have and I asked them for their input as well. The overwhelming response was that it's amazing. I have to agree. The Backbeat plays loud, clear, quality music wirelessly through the headset in a way that I've never experienced from a wireless headset before. The consensus that I got from everyone was that the music sounds great and it's very nice to be able to ditch the cords. This came into play even more when doing something active like working out or driving.

The play/pause button on the right earloop
So what makes it so great? There's a lot of other bluetooth headsets out there that stream music and play through both ears, after-all. Some of them are even cheaper. Well, the big advantage here is that there are buttons to help you control your music built right into the headset itself. With most bluetooth headsets and even with most headphones for phones you have to take your phone out of your pocket in order to change the song or turn the volume up or down. With the backbeat, this isn't necessary. You can easily skip to the next track or turn up the volume by simply pressing the buttons on the back of the left earloop. There's also an easy-to-reach play/pause button so if you want to start a conversation you can simply pause the music and then resume it when you're done. Making calls is just as easy. By pressing and holding the call button for a few seconds you can activate the voice-dialing on the phone and call someone from your contacts list. The one thing I feel is missing from this headset that would make it 100% truly hands-free even during calling is caller ID. When someone calls you, it simply lets you know that you have a call. It doesn't read off the caller's name from your contact book and you can't program numbers into the headset to read names when certain numbers call.

The on/off/pairing button on top and the volume up and volume
down buttons that double as the track forward and track
backward buttons when long-pressed
While listening to music, I was never disappointed. I listened to music in the car, in Walmart, in the grocery store, and in the coffee shop while working on this blog and I never heard background noise through the music on my headset. The pause button came in handy when people that I knew would approach me and want to talk. The music quality was excellent. Sure, it wasn't "$200 Beats Audio" quality, but I also didn't pay $200. It is exactly what I need when listening to music.

The left earbud with the "talk" button on it
Talking on the phone was a breeze as well. When receiving a call, one simply needs to tap the phone button on the left earbud and say, "Hi." When making a call, a simply 3-second hold of the phone button would activate voice-dialing and the headset never misunderstood me when I told it who to call. While talking, the noise-cancellation actually wowed me. I was more impressed than I thought I'd be. I assumed that because so much stock had been put into the music portion of this headset that the phone portion would be neglected. This proved to be very far from the truth. I was heard clearly, even while crossing a very windy bridge in my car near where I live, and that bridge has proved to trip up past bluetooth headsets I've reviewed, even if only slightly. The fact is, the callers couldn't even tell a difference from when I entered the bridge to when I got off! Also, wind cancellation was great too (for a bluetooth headset). Sure, high winds still affected the sound quality a little bit, but not significantly enough that I needed to hang up and call back when I was able to get into a sheltered area or get inside.

Micro-USB charger with the cover open
One problem that's not only been identified by my friends but by a lot of online reviews from users is that these headsets are very easy to short out from sweating too much into them. This typically wouldn't be a problem with a pair of cheaper earbuds that can be replaced for $15-$20, but it's most definitely a problem when it costs $90. Don't wear these during workouts if you know you are going to be doing an activity that is going to make you sweat a lot! These are definitely not headsets that will work well for runners unless you have tons of money to replace them frequently (and I don't).

The microphone on the front of the left earbud for talking on
the phone
When it comes down to it, I have a very positive view of this headset. I use it all the time and for what I use it for it works great. The ability to listen to my music without all the wires is absolutely priceless in some situations. The two recommendations I have for the next Backbeat: include more wearing options for comfort (I can only wear mine for a maximum of one hour without it hurting my ears) and make a more expensive version that is water proof or water resistant as an optional upgrade for those who want to use it to work out.

The earbuds on the inside of the Backbeat

Both earbuds together, showing the different lengths you can adjust the headsets to

What the Plantronics Backbeat 903+ looks like when worn

1 comment:

  1. These office headsets are the most durable Plantronics wireless office headset made for the people at office and call center. Not only these office headsets are durable, these are light weight as well.

    Plantronics Wireless Office Headset