With Apple hastening the decline of the headphone jack, what do you do if you’re not inclined to spend $150 or more on Bluetooth headphones? After taking on Bose back in October, Plantronics is back with an even more affordable set of cans, the BackBeat 500 Series. Promising some smarter Bluetooth tricks than AirPods, with a bargain $79.99 price tag, there’s a lot to recommend them.
I’ve been trying the BackBeat 500 wireless headphones out for the past week or so, and I’m generally impressed. True, there are definitely some things I wish had trickled down from Plantronics’ more expensive models. All the same, there are also features that are absent on high-profile wireless headphone rivals, like Apple’s AirPods.
The basics of comfort are solid. The BackBeat 500’s ear cushions use memory foam, and both rotate and pivot to sit flat against your ears. The extending strap seems sturdy enough, though there’s a little more wiggle than, say, Plantronics’ own BackBeat PRO 2. In addition to Bluetooth 4.1, there’s a 3.5mm input for use with the bundled analog cable, handy if you want to use an airline entertainment system.
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