Plantronics has a reputation for finding well-made, reliable hands-free Bluetooth communication equipment that drives and corporate I.T. types of lover. However, headphones and earphones tend to fly below the radar of most music lovers. It's a shame because their consumer audio equipment not only sounds good (for the price), but also comes packed with features usually reserved for headphones that cost significantly more. As such, I expect good things from Plantronics' first staff on a couple of genuine wireless earphones, the BackBeat Fit 31
After a tester's week, I can tell you that while the company has a good deal with these earbuds, there is still room for significant improvement.
The size of the Fit 3100 makes them look heavy. This is a deception: Record one of the earplugs and you will find that, despite their bulky, robust construction, they are reasonably bright. The large rubberized earmuffs containing the headset's batteries and electronics have an IP57 rating. So you can expect them to get up in dust or even take them to swim (even though you may not hear a lot of music). Do you need to wash mud or dirt from them after exercise? No problem.
The Fit 3100 was designed with athletics in mind, is evident. Soft, pliable silicone drying hooks ensure that the earplugs remain attached to your skull while navigating high-tech trails or cycling down the city streets. Plantronics & Ambient Beware ear tips all but do away with the passive noise that blocks most other true wireless earphones from striving. Assuming you do not listen to your music at a ridiculous volume, you will always be able to hear what is happening in the world around you. It is important to stay safe while you are out for a jog or share a gym with others. Unfortunately, the earphones are not shipped with another set of ear tips. If you are going to lose one, contact Plantronics for a replacement.
The better or worse, the Fit 3100 battery cover is unique among those who transmit with true wireless earphones. Where most companies rely on a mechanical lock or magnets to keep the case closed when not in use, Plantronics has chosen to use zipper. The upside of this design is that if the case ever gets dropped, there is no way that it can fly open to send your earplugs shattered over the ground. The disadvantage is that Plantronics zipper has a medium quality. I found that the zipper was slightly bent, and while I opened or closed the zipper, I noticed a few points that gave a small amount of resistance. None of these errors indicate long-term durability. That said, the rest of the matter looks solid and should protect the earplugs inside it from accidental abuse.
Plantronics claims that the Fit 3100 battery cover can provide two extra costs, which is good, as you might need them: while these headphones are announced as having a five-hour driving time, I found that they were on average around 3, 5 hours per charge. You should know that caution is needed when placing the Fit 3100 in their case: if they are in the wrong position, they will not charge.
Fit 3100 does not have the most intuitive control system that I have tested, but neither is it the worst. Both earplugs have large, clicky buttons built into the end caps. The button's right ear profile provides users with tracking controls and the ability to accept or end phone calls. The left earplug button is capped with a touch panel: A quick press on the panel reduces the volume, a long press will increase it. Through Plantronics' free BackBeat Fit Companion app, it is possible to customize the left ear cuff click-in theory. I tried and failed several times to get the app to recognize my pair of Fit 3100s, despite the fact that the earbuds were connected to my iPhone 7 Plus and worked in all other respects. I tried to connect them to the app on an iPhone SE and OnePlus 6t, to make sure there was no problem with my handset. After checking with both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, I found that many other Fit 3100 had the same problem. Given the price point of these earplugs, this is a difficult problem to overlook.
During the week that I tested these earphones, problems with connecting became something of a theme. In addition to the mistakes in trying to pair the Beat Fit Companion app with the earbuds, I also experienced frequent Bluetooth hiccups when I used the Fit 3100 outside my home. A car passes by when I walk down the street: hiccups. Put the phone in my left jacket pocket inside the right side: many hiccups. Use them in a crowded coffee shop while I work a little … well, you get the idea.
Fit 3100 will not win any awards for audio fidelity. But that's okay, they shouldn't. To ensure good sound with a pair of in-ear headphones, you need a passive or active noise cancellation modicum. This ensures that a lot of noise from the outside world is blocked while wearing them, while at the same time the sound generated by the small drivers in the earphones provides full realization when pumped into your skull. A good in-ear seal allows the user to enjoy richer bass and more detailed mid and high frequency sound.
When the Fit 3100 is away from passive noise interruptions to give users situational awareness, they do not sound as good as other sports-oriented earphones, like Jaybirds X4 does. In spite of this, the sound they make up is right up to the task of running athletes through the training. If you find that you are not satisfied with the sound that these headphones provide, but want a situation awareness they can afford, you may want to consider Bose's outstanding SoundSport Free true wireless earphones, which usually sell for around $ 50 more.
Despite its robust construction quality and the amount of situational awareness they can afford, I cannot recommend the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100. Their sub-pair battery life and spotty connections are impossible to ignore.