IP57 dust- and water-resistance
Touch and physical controls
Ambient Aware ear tips
There are a few salient categories of true wireless earbuds: the AirPods wannabes, the cheap but good stuff, and the sporty variants. The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 falls into the third division and includes IP57-certified earbuds with a 740mAh charging case. If you can overlook the bulky design and high price, it’s the ideal union of durable and functional.
Full review available at our sister site, SoundGuys.com
What is Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 like?
Like the beloved Plantronics BackBeat Fit, the 3100 model is built to endure. The IP57 rating denotes dust- and water-resistance, while the malleable ear hooks promote a secure, comfortable fit. Each earbud houses a holographic panel but they differ in functionality: the left one is touch-capacitive and permits volume adjustments. The right one, on the other hand, lacks touch capabilities but allows for playback and call control.
Since the carrying case houses a substantial battery, its frame, too, is large. Quick charging is afforded whereby 15 minutes of charging provides one hour of playback, and the case provides two extra charge cycles to the to the 3.72 standalone battery life. Be aware, though, of how the earbuds are returned to the case: the exact, textured cutouts look nice but make it too easy to place the ‘buds in without initiating charging.
Although the BackBeat Fit 3100 affords a slew of comprehensive controls, listeners can't access virtual assistants from the earbuds.
Working out with the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 takes some getting used to, but I found it to be a pleasure. As a consequence of the Ambient Aware ear tips — which promote safety by keeping the listener aware of her surroundings — a seal isn’t formed, mimicking the feeling of a precarious fit. Granted, the ear hook design is effective at keeping things stable. Unfortunately, what’s not as stable as I’ve come to expect from Plantronics products — like the Voyager 6200 UC — is connectivity: stutters sporadically occur when outdoors.
How do the earbuds sound?
They sound fine. As is the case with workout earbuds, sound quality takes a backseat to durability and functionality. Bass frequencies receive a hefty amount of emphasis, but much of it goes unheard due to the ingress of external noise from the non-existent seal. Pushing the earbuds against my ear canal results in an audible exaggerated low-end, but doing so during a workout is just impractical.
Vocals and treble frequencies maintain an audible presence, but it’s nothing emphatic. Highs are especially difficult to differentiate during a song occupied by more than two instruments. Generally speaking, detail and clarity are lacking too. At first read, it may seem I’m knocking the audio quality, but that’s not the case. Given the context of how the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 will be used, the sub-par audio quality is forgivable and can be understood as a repercussion of the Ambient Aware benefit: continual awareness of one’s surroundings.
Should you buy the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100?
If you’re an avid aquaphilic or outdoor enthusiast in the market for true wireless earbuds, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 3100 stands as a smart and safe choice. The controls are easy to command and the ‘buds stay in place, even if it doesn’t always feel like they will. Connectivity is disappointing, but only because the company usually outshines the competition when it comes to Bluetooth stability. Unfortunately, this is the main plague of true wireless earbuds and something competitors and Plantronics alike will improve upon as the technology advances.