The BackBeat is supplied with a wall charger with two connectors so it can charge both the headset and dongle at the same time. Both of the devices actually use a standard microUSB port for charging so you can also charge them via a PC or laptop if you prefer. It takes three hours to fully charge the headset and dongle. While charging is still in progress the headset's LED will glow red before changing to blue to show you it's fully topped up with juice.
Once charged Altec Lansing claims that the BackBeat is good for around seven hours of talk time or seven hours of music listening. This is about an hour less than the quoted battery life of the Jabra Halo, but in our experience both cans lasted for about seven hours when used mostly for music listening with some calls thrown in along the way.
Pairing the headset with a device is extremely easy. The power button doubles as the pairing button, so to start the pairing process you just turn the headset off and then hold down the power button until the LED next to it starts to flash red and blue. You then start the search for new devices on your phone or MP3 player and enter the standard passcode of 0000 if asked. When you're using the headset with the supplied dongle you simply put both into the pairing mode and they'll automatically find and pair with each other.
Although Altec Lansing doesn't make any reference to it in the manual the headset does support multipoint, so you can have it connected to two devices at the same time as long as they're not sharing the same functionality. For example you can connect it to a laptop for music listening over the Advanced Audio profile, while also having it connected to your mobile phone using the Headset profile. When you receive an incoming call it automatically fades out the music and plays a ringing tone thought the earpiece so you know you've got a caller. When you hang up or reject the call it automatically starts playing music again.
Unfortunately, sound quality for music from the BackBeat is a bit underwhelming, mainly because the headset is found lacking when it comes to bass response. What's more, if you try to compensate by boosting the bass frequencies using the graphic equaliser or bass enhancer on your phone or MP3 player, it causes the Backbeat's earpieces to overload and distort. The headset isn't all that loud either, something that becomes obvious pretty quickly when using them on London's noisy underground system.
Call quality is also average. Incoming audio from callers sounds great when it's pumped though both earpieces, but callers reported that speech from the dual mics sounded muddy indoors and suffered from a lot of wind noise when we used them outdoors.
The Backbeats are let down by poor bass response and the below average call quality. This is a shame because they have good battery life, easy to use controls and are probably the most comfortable stereo headset we've ever had to wear.