Plantronics released its first take on the true wireless form factor about a year ago, but the company's efforts weren't well received. I spent a bit of time with the BackBeat Fit 3100 and liked their stable design and sound quality, but noticed a few disconnections. Those became much more noticeable when my husband tried them in a completely open outdoor setting near the sea. With no trees, no buildings, and nothing to bounce the sound around, one of the buds would frequently lose connection and stutter.
Now the company is acknowledging the problem and releasing an updated Fit 3150 with better connectivity and battery life. It's also introducing the Fit 3200 with removable noise-isolating eartips, and the tiny Pro 5100. There's also a new sports headset from Plantronics, the BackBeat Fit 6100.
All four Plantronics models have a few features in common. First, they all still charge over MicroUSB, a sad and annoying situation. With USB-C charging and even wireless charging present on many competitors' true wireless buds, it's no longer justifiable for Plantronics to stick to MicroUSB.
Second, they all offer a "My Tap" feature that lets you customize single or double taps to start a stopwatch, set a timer, play your favorite playlist — all shortcuts that can be handy if you're exercising.
And finally, the three true wireless buds let you pick the main bud, as well as use each bud separately in mono mode.
BackBeat Pro 5100
The Pro 5100 are the smallest and lightest (5.8g) buds in the new line-up. They don't have the earloop design we saw with the older Fit 3100, but should still be comfortable and stable enough to wear. They have passive noise-isolating eartips with a snug seal, 5.8mm drivers, four noise-canceling mics that help tune out background noise when you're taking a call, and smart sensors that pause and resume music and calls when you wear them or take them off. They use Bluetooth 5.0 and are also IPX4-rated for dust, sweat, and water resistance.
Battery life is 6.5hrs for the buds with 13hrs more provided by the case. When you're in a hurry, a 10-minute charge can get you 1hr of listening. They only come in black and cost $170.
BackBeat Fit 3200
While the older Fit 3100 used a non-sealing design for outdoor sports and awareness, the new 3200 keep much of the same form factor but switch to soft noise-isolating eartips. That makes them a good option if you want true wireless earbuds that stay put no matter how much you move and bounce in the gym. There's also a new "Awareness" mode to mix music with surrounding sound, so you can enjoy your tunes while also staying in touch with what's happening around you should you need to carry a short conversation or use them outdoors.
The Fit 3200 have 13.5mm drivers, 3 EQ presets, are IP57-rated for sweat and water resistance, and use Bluetooth 5.0. Each bud can last 8hrs and the case provides 16hrs more. A 15-minute charge can get you 1.5hrs of music. They're available in Black or Teal, and cost $150.
BackBeat Fit 3150
These are the updated Fit 3100. Compared to their predecessors, they offer better connectivity and battery life. The buds last 8hrs on a charge and the case provides 16hrs more. Specs are mostly the same as the 3200 above, except that the eartip design is non-sealing and geared toward outdoor exercise.
They come in Black and Black-Blue and cost $150.
BackBeat Fit 6100
Finally, Plantronics announced a new sports headphone to cater to users who want to keep the same set on regardless of whether or not they're exercising, working, commuting, or just relaxing to music. The main appeal of the Fit 6100 is their adjustable headband which is breathable, offers an hexagonal pattern for more grip, and has a draw cord that can be latched for a snug fit during exercise, but then relaxed when you're done. Add memory foam cushions, 40mm angled drivers, and a foldable design, and you've got a pair of headphones that may actually work well in the gym and outside.
The headphone weights 240g, is IPX5-rated for sweat and water-resistance, has the "Awareness" mode to help you hear your surroundings without taking it off, and offers touch controls on the ear cups. It uses Bluetooth 5.0 with MultiPoint technology, and lasts 24hrs on a charge. If you're in a rush, a 15-minute top-off can give you 6hrs of listening.
The BackBeat Fit 6100 comes in Black, Camo, and Pepper Grey, and costs $180.
All four models are now available on Plantronics' website and some are starting to appear on Amazon too. They should soon be available on Best Buy too as well as other retailers.