Headphone and earbud experts Plantronics have released their 2018-2019 portfolio of devices. The range is highlighted by the firm’s first truly wireless earbuds set – the BackBeat FIT 3100. This stellar new device continues Plantronics recent trend of dropping some of the best and most popular earbuds for the active lifestyle that we live. Read on for our World Exclusive review of the BackBeat FIT 3100!
Plantronics has clearly spent quite a bit of time and effort to develop the BackBeat FIT 3100. It includes a slew of features that differentiate it from other wireless earbuds on the market today. Here are the key ones based on releases from the electronics company.
- Always Aware™ feature that enables outdoor enthusiasts to “hear what truly matters” – like taxi horns, barking dogs or screeching brakes – during their workout.
- A unique eartip design doesn’t fully block the ear canal, letting in ambient sound and allowing you to simultaneously listen to music and hear your surroundings.
- Sweatproof and waterproof protects that lets you take the BackBeat FIT 3100 on your most intense workouts, so you can keep listening – no matter what weather.
- Soft, flexible, secure-fit earloops and comfortable stabilizers that will stay put during your toughest reps.
- Up to 5 hours of wireless listening and up to 10 additional hours with the included charge case
- The BackBeat app that brings a new level of customization and control to your BackBeat headphones
- My Tap command customization that assign commands to your sport earbuds. With one or two taps, you can start a stopwatch, set a timer or select your favorite playlist directly from your earbuds.
What’s in the Box?
Well-packaged in a combination sleeve and premium grade open-up case (complete with brilliant athlete imagery), the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 bundle consists of a pair of wireless earbuds, a hard and well-protected charging cases, a setup booklet and a micro USB cable.
Given that the unit is ready to use out of the box there is nothing else required including alternate eartips. The earbuds and charging case come fully charged so you can connect the BackBeat FIT 3100 to your phone and start using them right away.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 is brilliantly designed and certainly catches the eye. In terms of aesthetics its earloops exude the athletic lifestyle that we live as they show that the wearer is serious about her or his workouts. The cylindrical section that houses the speaker and electronics that bring the music to use are unassuming but eye-catching way. This is via its shiny metallic blue surface which is, in turn, touch sensitive and used to control many of the 3100’s features.
You gently tap the left earbud surface to adjust the volume up and down. The right-side surface allows for song navigation, phone activation and invoking Siri or Google Assistant. Most importantly it allows for pausing your music during the inevitable interruptions. We haven’t seen another pair of truly wireless headphones with pause functionality to date!
The eartips use the same ergonomic design as Plantronics extremely popular Backbeat FIT wireless earbuds that have been a staple at gyms everywhere over the past few years. The bright orange used to the tips add a nice bling element to the BackBeat FIT 3100 is visible a bit even when the unit is being worn.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 charging case is one of the best we’ve seen in the truly wireless earphone space. It has an almost executive classy look and is hard on the outside to offer good protection for your investment. On the inside there are slots that you place the earbuds in for recharging. Doing so is easy and instinctive as you can readily feel when they snap into place. An LED indicator at the center of the case shows its charge level. Charging the case is simply a matter of slipping the micro USB cable into a slot on its backside.
Setting up the Jabra Elite Sport
We used the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 on a Samsung S8 Edge and Apple iPhone X S. Pairing it with either was simple and no different that connecting any other Bluetooth-enabled device to them. We did so using the Settings of both. In both cases we just scanned for BlueTooth devices, selected the BackBeat FIT 3100 from the available lists and let the operating system pair with it. A voice notification was heard from each side of the earbuds that the 3100 was connected once done.
Alternatively, one can use the Plantronics BackBeat app from the Google PlayStore or Apple iTunes to taken through a step by step pairing process that includes pictures. Folks new to wireless headphones and earbuds may need this nicely illustrated section of the app to set up their BackBeat FIT 3100.
Of note is that the left and right earbuds of the 3100 do not go through any noticeable pairing process with each other. Both power on if removed from the charging case or if the other side of the pair is powered on by press its flat surface. Audio notification saying “Power On” is heard when each comes on.
Over the ear and in the ear is a basic definition of how the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 fits. The earloops readily slip onto the backside of the earlobes and do not move during even the most rigorous of workouts or in sprint training. Meanwhile the eartips reside in the ear canals delivering rich sound via their funnel like ends.
There may be a bit of adjusting to the fit of the eartips since they are once size fits all. We found that moving the earphones slightly back and forth via the earloops helped with getting a better fit. Wearing the BackBeat FIT 3100 for an hour or two gets you used to the feel of the eartips, however. The longer you don the 3100 the more used you get to the feel of it in your ear.
Since the earloops go over the earlobes some adjustment is needed when wearing them with glasses or sunglasses because of space limitations between the earlobes and head. Either placing the on top of the BackBeat FIT 3100 earloops in between the glasses temples and the head (less comfortable) works. Of course, either is less challenging if your spectacles have thinner wire frames.
All of the Plantronics headphones and earphones that we’ve ever tried come with superb sound out of the box. The BackBeat FIT 3100 is no exception.
Sound quality that the unit delivers across streaming platforms iHeartRadio, Spotify, YouTube and NetFlix are all very good with no distortion and with all the key elements of any song or video audio track well-captured. The same applies for standalone mp3 and mp4 files played from our phones.
Mid and high frequencies are delivered particularly well with a high level of crispness and clarity. The full low frequency experience for any track does require some adjustment of your phone’s equalizer settings however. This is in large part because of the lack of custom fits for the 3100’s eartips and their design to allow for Always Aware.
The tap control that we mentioned earlier takes the volume level of the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 to a comfortable level that is not too loud and not likely to cause hearing damage. We did not experience any sound distortion at the maximum level on any streaming platform or on standalone songs with qualities from 128 kbps to 320 kbps.
The microphones on the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 are nowhere to be seen but do a remarkable job. There was no distortion heard by folks we made phone calls to while wearing the 3100 for both standard and high definition (Voice Over LTE) phone calls in both mobile to landline and mobile to mobile scenarios.
We also used the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 to speak to Siri on the iPhone and Google Assistant and Alexa on Amazon Prime Music on our Android phone. In each case the virtual assistants understood our commands without error. This is impressive to say the least given the fact that they do not always interpret users correctly over iPhone and Samsung built-in microphones.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 package gives you an amazing 15 hours of battery life while fully charged. The earbuds carry an impressive 5 hours of charge while the case stores 10 more. Upon powering on the earphones you’ll hear their voice indicator stating whether their charge is high, medium or low. The lights on the charging case show how much is stored in it. We found that ensuring that the case was charged to at least 50% at all times resulted in the earbuds maintaining theirs and avoiding the dreaded loss of power during a workout or run.
A brilliant power management feature of the BackBeat FIT 3100 is that it automatically powers off to save battery life in the case. It also has a Deep Sleep value add that lets the 3100 lie dormant but charged or up to 6 months.
Plantronics gives the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 a range of 33 feet from the phone that it is paired to. We found this to be spot on even in a commercial gym with many pieces of metal training equipment in between the earphones and phone. We were actually able to take the BackBeat FIT 3100 up to 40 feet away in a more open environment before experiencing breaks in the songs that we were playing because of connectivity drops.
The Plantronics BackBeat FIT 3100 is an extremely robust product that seems built to take the beatings that come with the fitness lifestyle. Its earloops are very flexible and rubberized and not expected to break. The cylindrical sections are solid and clearly designed to absorb blows and drops.
The BackBeat FIT 3100 has an impressive IP rating of IP57 which means that it can operate in dusty environments and is essentially sweat and waterproof. This makes them suitable for use outdoors even when it’s raining and theoretically for swimming. We did not try the latter however.
Plantronics has done an excellent job with their first truly wireless offering in the form of the BackBeat FIT 3100. It definitely a higher end product that meets all of the needs of serious athletes wanting audio stimulation for their workouts. It does everything and more than we could ever imagine from a pair of truly wireless earphones. It’s also a steal compared to other similar products at an undiscounted pricepoint of $149.99.