The scoop: BackBeat PRO, by Plantronics, about $250.
What is it? These new wireless, over-the-head headphones feature active noise cancellation, Class 1 Bluetooth (longer range than typical Bluetooth headphones) and a super-long battery life (Plantronics touts up to 24 hours of continuous play on a single charge). The “PRO” part has double meaning - headphones that offer professional-level audio quality as well as the audience - business professionals looking for a better experience while they work, travel or relax at home. The headphones come with a USB charging cable, extra audio cord (more on that later) and a handy nylon carrying case. LED indicators on the outside of the headphones let you know how much juice you have left.
Why it’s cool: It’s rare when you find both wireless features and active noise cancellation in the same device, especially with a longer battery life so you don’t have to worry about the headphones cutting out in the middle of a long flight or movie. Plantronics goes a step further by giving you an audio cord that keeps the music/audio coming if the battery does run out of juice (you would lose the noise cancellation, but at least you could still listen to music). It’s rare that you’d listen to music for 24 hours straight, so the battery life goes beyond that - Plantronics says the BackBeat PRO offers up to 21 days of battery life in standby mode, and a whopping 180 days while in “Deep Sleep” mode.
Wireless setup should be simple for you if you’ve ever paired a Bluetooth headset to your phone - when you turn on the headphones (a power switch on the right ear cup), the system automatically goes into pairing mode, and a voice inside the headphones notify you when the connection is made. Pushing the left ear cup does the play/pause function, and pushing the right ear cup answers/ends a phone call if you’re paired with your phone. The headphones also have a unique way to control volume and do skip ahead/back - dials on the outside of each ear cup let you adjust volume or skip songs.
Bringing the system from “good” to “great” are the extra nice touches - things like Multipoint (connecting the headphones to two devices, such as a phone and tablet, with the ability to switch between them without re-pairing), an “OpenMic” button that reduces the volume to the point where you could hear outside noise without taking the headphones off (such as when you want to hear what the airplane captain is announcing or what the flight attendant is asking you), and a very comfortable, cushioned fit (both over the ears and over the head).
Some caveats: Like any device with Bluetooth, if you move beyond the normal range (especially in a noisy wireless environment or between walls our out of line-of-sight), the audio will skip out on you - but for the most part it’s likely you’ll be in the same room as your audio source.
Grade: 5 stars (out of five).
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