Cut the cord between your headphones and phone and GO wireless with the brand new Plantronics BackBeat GO 2 headphones. These minimalistic Bluetooth headphones are an update to the original BackBeat Go headphones that we reviewed last year, and they pack in a several cool features including a sweat-proof design, a ControlTalk button with volume and a microphone, and new is an included case that charges them while they’re safely tucked away in your pocket.
The BackBeat GO 2′s are two large earbuds tethered together by a foot and a half of tough rubberized cable. There’s nothing that plugs into your phone, and no crazy headphone tangles. Near the right earbud is the built-in ControlTalk with volume buttons, universal button, and microphone. Each earbud is a little larger than average, but nothing too extreme. The right earbud has a micro-USB charging port that’s neatly hidden. There’s three sizes of silicone eartips and a little rubber fit stabilizer that helps keep these in-ears in ear.
There’s a status LED on the right earbud. It’s convenient for indicating charging status, but not as convenient for figuring out if the headphones are being turned on or off. A second LED on the ControlTalk could be nice.
What’s cooler: these sweat-resistant Bluetooth headphones, or that they come with a handy charging case? The charging case is tough, light, and made of ballistic nylon. Inside of it is a battery the size of a matchbox. There’s a microUSB charging cable with a bit of slack attached inside the case. Simply plug in the BackBeats, stuff them in the case, pocket them, and enjoy fully charged headphones in no time. The case has a battery meter on the bottom and a micro-USB charging port.
Setting up the GO 2′s is just as easy as setting up any other bluetooth device, be it headset, speakers, or accessories. Simply pair the device in Bluetooth settings (there’s no passcode), and within seconds you’re rocking out. There’s voice prompts that help you figure out pairing status and even battery status. The headphones remember their last pairing. It’s compatible with virtually any Bluetooth streaming device: iPhone, iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, or a laptop. The ControlTalk buttons and microphone may vary in compatibility.
The GO 2′s are bluetooth headphones with a battery that lasts for 4.5 hours of listening, and a bit longer for phone calls. The charging case adds an additional 10 hours of listening. 20 minutes of charging in the case gives the headphones an additional hour of listening.
The built-in ControlTalk allows you to control volume, music, phone calls, and even voice activation like Siri (compatibility varies). Even though the headphone cable and ControlTalk sits behind your neck, the microphone still works perfectly for making phone calls.
The headphones are “P2i nano-coated” for water and sweat resistance. This makes them ideal for the gym and all-around every day use. Rock out in the rain if you want! (Just keep your phone in a ziplock bag).
Plantronics has a feature they call “deep sleep hibernation” which conserves left-over battery for up to 6 months of inactivity. When connected to Androids, iPhones, and and iPads, you’ll see a battery meter in the status bar that indicates how much battery is left on the GO 2s.
As bluetooth headphones, the BackBeat GO 2′s seriously rock. The wireless range is great and with regular usage there’s rarely a hitch in a perfect stream. Like all bluetooth headphones there’s a slight delay, but this delay happens to be very slight. You can still watch movies and media without the audio being annoyingly out of sync.
The headphones sound awesome; they actually sound better than most wired headphones in their price range. They’re very well balanced with a lot of detail and clarity. The bass is bassy (when there’s a good seal), the highs are crisp, and the mid-range is rich. The audio experience is also a big improvement over the first generation of the BackBeat Go.
I have finicky ears and classic-styled earbuds rarely stay in. With the GO 2′s, the stabilizer helped some, but it could have been better. Smaller ear tips could have helped too. With the right fit, they’re really comfortable and pretty lightweight. At first it’s a bit weird reaching behind your ear to access the ControlTalk, but it takes no time to get used to. The controls aren’t entirely standard (i.e. holding down volume up to skip tracks instead of double tapping universal button), but again, it’s quick to get used to.
The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2‘s pretty much have it all. They’re durable enough to withstand sweat and the gym, and not having a hanging cord keeps your phone out of harms way. They’re comfortable enough for every-day and all-day usage. Plus, best of all, they sound awesome. It’s a noticeable step up from entry level earbuds, like Apple’s EarPods. The Plantronics BackBeat GO 2′s are currently available in black or white without the charging case from Amazon for $79.99. With the carrying case, the BackBeat GO 2′s will cost $99.99 — if you don’t already have a portable battery pack, the charging case is very much worth it. If you also have finicky ears and want something with a better stabalizer you can check out the Monster iSport Intensity, which have a wire and don’t sound as nice, or the JayBird BlueBuds X, which are nearly the same headphones with twice the battery, but almost twice the price.
The Good: Sound great, Charging case, Sweat resistant / water resistant, ControlTalk with Microphone, Comfortable, Durable, Affordable
The Bad: Ear stabilizer could be better, Carrying case could be larger–requires finesse to get headphones in, Battery is only 4.5 hours