Microsoft Surface Earbuds: Productivity-centric wireless headphones

The popularity of wireless headphones has steadily been on the rise in recent times, and Microsoft has just announced its first pair of true wireless headphones, the Microsoft Surface Earbuds. This follows last year’s release of the Surface Headphones, and will be priced in the American market at US$249 (about RM1,042) later this year.

At a glance, it appears that the new Surface Earbuds aren’t too different from the deluge of TWS options out there today, with Microsoft promising 8 hours of playback time, along with 24 hours total battery life with the charging case included. That’s 8 hours per charge, with 2 charges from the case.

They come with touch controls, with the compatibility with music services such as Spotify. Tap-and-swipe will play or pause music, launch music apps like Spotify, or adjust the volume and skip tracks. Unfortunately, there isn’t an always-on assistant like Siri for the Apple AirPods, but a long press will bring up Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana.

But in line with the Surface branding, Microsoft is positioning the Surface EarBuds as a productivity-focused device. There’s integration with Microsoft Office—swipe through PowerPoint slides with the touch-controls, along with real-time dictation for presentation captions. You’ll have access to Microsoft Outlook with voice commands/dictation, as well.

There are 2 microphones on each earbud, which help with input quality for dictation as well as noise reduction. Microsoft says that the Earbuds are tuned for both music and call quality, although they don’t appear to have any form of active noise cancelling.

And because the Earbuds don’t sit in your ear canals, there isn’t much in the way of passive noise cancelling either. This is supposedly in the name of comfort, with Microsoft saying that the design is also intended to allow for those in the workplace to hear what’s going on around the office.

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At the moment, there isn’t any indication as to Malaysian availability or pricing, but it’s safe to say that at the U.S. pricing of US$249 (about RM1,042), the Surface Earbuds certainly have quite a number of competitors in the market today—namely, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the Apple AirPods, or even the cheaper Galaxy Buds.

However, the Surface Earbuds do have some productivity-focused features that make it unique, and could certainly fill a niche in the market. And they certainly look unique, don’t they?

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