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Plantronics BackBeat 500 review

Plantronics’ BackBeat 500 Series headphone is a Bluetooth on-ear model that’s attractively designed and priced at a relatively modest $80, £100 or AU$120. It comes in three colors — white, gray and a dark gray that looks more like black — and is relatively comfortable for an on-ear headphone.

Plantronics isn’t doing anything too groundbreaking here, particularly from a design standpoint — there are other models, such as the Jays u-Jays, that look very similar. But the difference is that the Jays headphone goes for $120 on Amazon while this Plantronics costs $40 less. Urbanears Plattan ADV Wireless runs $90 to $100.

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The BackBeat 500 comes in three color options.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Usually Bluetooth headphones in the sub-$100 range suffer from mediocre sound quality. But I was pleasantly surprised that the BackBeat 500 sounds as good as it does for the price. It’s not in the league of over-ear models like Plantronics’ own BackBeat Pro 2, but it’s a pretty well-balanced headphone with decent detail and relatively punchy, meaty bass (there’s a touch of bass push). It clearly seems designed to compete with Beats’ Solo3 Wireless, which lists for $300 but costs around $220 online.

The Beats offers best-in-class battery life (40 hours), but the Plantronics BackBeat 500 comes in with a solid 18 hours at moderate volume levels.

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