After reviewing Jabra Evolve 80 headset last week, Plantronics makes a come back this week with the BackBeat Pro. While the Evolve 80 is somewhat of a blended consumer/UC headset the BackBeat Pro as the name implies is all about music with UC a far second. Although the focus of the BackBeat Pro is the consumer market its worthy of a review because it does have some great features. It may not have UC specific features but with tradeoffs in other areas it still makes a great headset.
In reviewing the BackBeat Pro I went and had a look at some other reviews on the Plantronics website. I was not surprised that it rated pretty highly among consumers because of two reasons:
- The battery life for a Bluetooth device is nothing but amazing. After the initial charge and heavy music use I have yet to recharge the device. Its supposed to have up to 24 hours of continuous music streaming and I don’t doubt this claim one bit. I have used it on and off over a number of days and it has held it charge and performed well paired with my MacBook pro.
- The sound quality for a Bluetooth device is fantastic. My 90’s hair and speed metal collection never sounded so good.I am listening to Metallica Master of Puppets as I write this blog post on them. The Active Noise Cancellation is also excellent. I can honestly say my wife has never had a harder time trying to get my attention when I am in my office with these babies on. I thought using Bluetooth may have caused audio quality issues but that is far from reality. They worked the same either plugged in with the 3.5mm cable or over Bluetooth.
The headset also comes nicely packaged with a nice storage case. It’s a pretty significant investment of around $250 for a headset so its nice that it comes with a case to protect it. There is also has a USB cable and a standard 3.5mm cable. The USB cable is only for charging and updating the device. I like the fact you can update the device software and turn features on and off with it. A Mac version of the update software would go a long way. Especially considering the popularity of Apple devices among the devices target audience age group which is probably the 30 and under.
Another area the Plantronics has done a nice job is in the use sensor capabilities. As an example when I put the device down it automatically pauses my music or when I pick it up it answers a call when paired with a cell phone. Its great to see headset manufactures thinking about the end user experience. Even software updates on this device were pretty simple. The Plantronics website did a good job of guiding me through the process to get the latest software on my device.
There are a lot of positives about this device and so far I have only found one major detractor. There are basically no UC focused features. Yes, it will work with your favorite softphone application to make calls because it has a microphone but that’s basically about it.Most advanced call control features are not there. Although Mac compatibility will vary by softphone anyway depending on API availability, Windows it’s a big miss. In comparison to the Evolve 80 which has really thought through the UC experience the BackBeat Pro really misses in this area. In saying that people might be attracted to the Bluetooth capability and over look the lack of UC features and just make do with what it has to offer. Hopefully this might be something Plantronics expands on down the road with a software update.
The big positives for the BackBeat Pro are sound quality, Bluetooth with NFC, ANC, Use Sensors and battery life. The only negatives are from a UC perspective with the lack of integration into your favorite Windows or Mac UC application. Despite the BackBeat Pro’s tradeoffs its still a great headset that I have enjoyed using, now back to Metallica…
Master of puppets I'm pulling your strings
Twisting your mind and smashing your dreams ……