Plantronics is well known for its professional-class Bluetooth headsets for consumers and businesses, and has launched its first ever Bluetooth wireless headphones with active noise cancelling at at least 24 hours of non-stop Bluetooth streaming.
When it comes to wired office headsets and a wide range of Bluetooth headsets, one of the top brands out there is Plantronics.
Famous for its wall of ears in its Santa Clara headquarters and for supplying the headsets used by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and others on the Moon landing, Plantronics has an ultra high quality audio heritage stretching back decades.
Over the past couple of years, the Company has been working on a top-secret project: its first Bluetooth active noise-cancelling headphones, designed to outclass the Bose and Beats ANC headsets of the world at very keen pricing alongside incredibly cool styling and super long battery life.
They’re called the Plantronics BackBeat Pro Wireless Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones and will retail for an extremely competitive price of $349, due in Officeworks from October 15 and other major retailers thereafter.
Able to be used wirelessly with Bluetooth, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro also comes with a standard 3.5mm headphone cable with inbuilt microphone and “Made for iPhone” compatible controls.
The benefit of having a wired option ensures that you can use the headphones with a form of “passive” noise cancelling even when the batteries are flat, unlike other headphones that are simply dead once the batteries have died for the day.
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The other massive benefit of used the wired option is to extend the minimum of 24 hours of Bluetooth streaming to a maximum of 60 hours of wired music listening. That’s 8 hours longer than the theoretical 52 hours it would take to fly around the world non-stop if your plane had enough fuel to do so or you could re-fuel in the sky.
This is a tremendous benefit for long-haul travellers who just don’t need the hassle of charging devices and being wall huggers to do so, especially if they’re in cattle class without access to the luxuries of in-seat power points as is available in Business Class and First Class seats.
Plantronics classes this as having the “battery power to outlast your playlist”, with its over-the-ear headphones offering Plantronics’ “signature audio performance and design for all-day wearing comfort at home, in the office, and on the go”.
There’s additional battery intelligence, too. Take the headphones off and after 1.5 hours of not being used, you get 21 days of standby power but can also go into deep hibernation mode to maintain a charge for 6 months, so you should never come back to a dead pair of headphones if they still had charge in them when you last started using them.
Aside from the long battery life, Plantronics has added in some really premium features, with design elements even taken from the world of SLR cameras.
This is seen in the large dials on the rims of either side of the headphones. The dial on the right spins as though you are focusing a lens and turns the volume up or down, while the dial on the left is used to move forward or back through tracks.
The button on the right is used to answer and end calls or to activate voice recognition features like Siri on iPhones or Google Now on Androids, while the button on the left is used to play or pause content, or to answer or hang up calls.
The button on the right also tells you how much battery is left, while pressing it for a while activates pairing mode. You can have 8 devices paired and two in use at the same time.
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There’s still more smarts contained within. You can easily “wear” the headphones around your neck with the cups lying flat, which is a very comfortable experience allowing you to easily walk off a plane without needing to feel constrained or to hurriedly put them back into your bag.
Even better, when you do this, the music or video file you’re playing automatically stops to conserve battery life and keep your place in the music. Put the headphones back on and bam – the audio or video starts playing again automatically. It’s a sweet little feature and shows nice intelligence in the unit itself thanks to the sensors required to do this and on behalf of Plantronics’ designers.
These are the little things that make a big difference and it’s nice to see Plantronics has gone to the trouble of not just thinking about these kinds of features but implementing them with style.
There are yet still more features to talk about! You can press a button on the bottom left hand side of the speakers to enable an audio-pass through mode called “Openmic”. This means you can press a button and hear what people are saying around you, meaning you don’t need to remove your headphones to confirm to the steward what type of drink you’re having with your meal on the flight.
Using what Plantronics says is a “unique dual-mic solution”, the headphones draw in background noise and eliminate it, tuning out external sounds and resulting in clear, life-like audio, which is part of its active noise cancelling technology.
Alternatively, if you want to hear what is going on around you, the volume adjustable OpenMic feature pushes the music to the background and amplifies environmental sounds; so having a conversation with a co-worker, listening for your boarding call, or answering a fellow commuter without having to remove your headphones is effortless.
It also means you can look like you’re absorbed in music but are really listening to what your colleagues are saying around you if you’re an office cubicle dweller, and even works as a type of hearing aid, as such, not that it is designed to be that.
Additional features listed by Plantronics include:
– Uncompromising audio performance: With 40mm dynamic drivers and Plantronics signature audio technologies, BackBeat PRO delivers rich bass, crisp highs, and natural midtones so you hear the nuances of each instrument and voice.
– Unleash your music: Advanced Bluetooth technology lets you stream music from up to 100m away from your smartphone or tablet, well beyond the usual 10m when used with Class 1 Bluetooth devices like the latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
– Truly “smart” headphones: Sensors on BackBeat PRO automatically pause your music when the headphones are removed and resumes when you put them back on, and will unobtrusively whisper updates on connection status, battery life, incoming calls and more.
– Take your music anywhere: The exceptional ergonomic design and portability (with fold-flat earcups and durable nylon travel sleeve) makes BackBeat PRO ideal for all-day use wherever life takes you.
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– Clear communication: From phone calls to voice applications such as Siri and Skype, BackBeat PRO dual-mics directly on the headphones enable clear communication on smartphones and tablets for mobile professionals.
– Works seamlessly with mobile devices: BackBeat PRO features NFC pairing with Android devices, and you can easily move from listening to music on your smartphone to watching videos on your tablet with multi-device Bluetooth connectivity.
Peter Petrides, National Retail Sales Manager, Australia and New Zealand at Plantronics said: “Aussies love their music and want to be able to enjoy it on-the-go without any distractions. We created the BackBeat PRO so that users can immerse themselves into their music and block out the noise whether they are travelling, working, or simply relaxing. With up to 24 hours of continuous wireless use and active noise-cancellation, the BackBeat PRO can be used not only for music but also movies and calls.”
Susan Hansen, VP of Sales & Marketing, Asia Pacific for Plantronics said: “The Backbeat PRO is our latest edition to the award winning Backbeat family and we are so excited about its launch in the ANZ marketplace. This premium headset will deliver a service that resonates with our robust, on the move lifestyle, providing users with an all rounded user experience.”