Microsoft decided to loudly declare itself in the sector of wireless headphones. The company introduced the 249 Surface Earbuds, the second product in the Surface headphone family after last year’s Surface Headphones. The new headset is similar to many modern wireless counterparts like Apple AirPods, but Microsoft has implemented some specific features that are not found anywhere else. The product will hit the market later this year.
Journalists at The Verge had the opportunity to try out new earbuds right after Microsoft’s presentation, and although the conditions for evaluating sound quality were desired, it turned out to experience some unique features. Headphones are very similar in characteristics to analogs. They offer eight hours of battery life, and a charging case can extend this time to 24 hours. The earbuds lie in the ear without blocking the ear canal, so they do not cut off external sounds very well: Microsoft says that this was done on purpose.
Outside, the earbuds look quite curious: they offer a rather large external plane, which is used for sensory interactions. The user can click on the panel to play or pause music, launch applications like Spotify, adjust the volume and skip tracks. You can also call the Cortana voice assistant with a long press.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the headphones is the ability to transcribe speech: Microsoft has implemented the ability to display automatic subtitles under a PowerPoint presentation based on intelligent speech recognition. Moreover, journalists note that, despite the relatively high noise level, everything worked in real conditions quite well.
However, Microsoft will have to convince potential buyers of the benefits of its solution so that they decide to give their 250 for Surface Earbuds – this is much more expensive than offers from most competitors. At the same time, they lack a number of functions, such as active noise reduction, which is, for example, in much cheaper Amazon Alexa Buds.