The Microsoft Surface Earbuds were launched at a recent Surface event where various other hardware products were also unveiled. The earphones join the $250 Microsoft Surface Headphones in the flagship audio range from the company and are claimed to offer up to 24 hours of battery life – 8 hours per charge of the earphones, plus an additional two full charges in the case. Pairing and connectivity will also be easier thanks to Swift Pair, according to Microsoft.
The Surface Earbuds will be priced at $249 (roughly Rs. 17,700). Interestingly, the Surface Earbuds feature integration with Microsoft Office to aid user productivity and work with various voice assistants – not just Microsoft’s own Cortana.
Design-wise, Microsoft claims to have paid attention to the Surface Earbuds for offering all-day comfort. The new buds come with a reasonably large and chunky circular touchpad that provides controls for various tasks using gestures. For example, a few taps would open Spotify on Android.
The new Surface Earbuds also allow users to move through slides during a PowerPoint presentation by swiping on the circular touchpad.
Microsoft says the headphone is equipped with eight microphones, including four beamforming mics (two on each ear cup) that not only help with making your voice sound clear on calls but issuing voice commands using Microsoft’s Cortana digital voice assistant. Cortana is always on, so all you have to do is say, “Hey, Cortana” to issue a voice command.
Typically you have to push a button to activate the voice assistant on your headphones, whether it’s Alexa or Google Assistant. But this hands-free mode is similar to the experience you get with voice-enabled Wi-Fi speakers, such as the Amazon Echo.
Another highlight feature of the Surface Earbuds is its integration with Microsoft’s own Office 365 apps. Surface Earbuds can translate over 60 languages into real-time text translation.
Surface Earbuds are IPX4 rated for water resistance. It works across all platforms and is claimed to offer 8 hours of full charge without the case and would face stiff competition from Apple AirPods, which has been a very popular wireless audio device.
Microsoft is going to have to rely on those productivity features to justify the Earbuds’ cost, however: at $250, they are considerably more expensive than the competition. And since they don’t have things like active noise cancellation, they are missing features that are found on Amazon’s far less expensive Alexa Buds.