I had a change recently to try to our Microsoft Surface Earbuds. Yes, those ones that are quite a bold in their appearance. But more than their appearance I was really interested to see if they are usable. My first touch on them was at Microsoft Ignite 2019 where I able to try them on very very briefly, but thanks to Microsoft I got to test them out more properly recently.
First of all: the setup is easy. Especially if you already has the Surface application installed either on your computer or in your mobile. Due to having tested earlier Surface Headphones I had them installed. Surface Earbuds are not Microsoft Teams Certified – they are only connected via Bluetooth only. My aim wasn’t to go in with desktop Teams testing (although they could be used to that too) but instead I wanted to try them out with Teams mobile.
Since these are nothing new (there are rumors of Earbuds 2:s already) I am not going to focus on any tech specs. Let’s just say that the audio is great and music sounds very good to me as well. In short: The sound/audio is great and works for me.
What is the cool aspect with these Earbuds are their surface (pun intended). Working with touch and gestures you can use them to music, volume and more. For example slide up or down on the right bud adjusts the volume.
There are cons: When trying these out I quickly discovered that I can’t get a perfect fit to my ears. I can use them outside when walking but I would want to risk dropping them when doing anything more active – for example like when bicycling. And when using slide gestures while walking I almost dropped one earbud.. I will keep on using Jabra 75ts for now when I am outdoors. While Surface Earbuds have also a bigger box than Jabra it would still fit my jean’s coin pocket without issues. It is not the tech that is the con here, but I couldn’t get a good fit with my ears. I have read reviews about people saying these are perfect fit and they don’t have issues doing sports. Well – that just tells that not all these devices are suitable for everyone.
Surface Earbuds come with three differently sized ear-pieces. But since they are intended to sit on ear differently than Jabras (and many other buds) it seems to be the challenge to find the right size. I ended up on largest ones. There is a video that shows how they should be put on (with a twist) but unfortunately it doesn’t profile a tight enough fit for me – and neither did other sizes.
Surface Earbuds don’t have any ANC in them (Jabra 75ts has a software ANC – but it doesn’t seem to affect much) and when comparing these two buds I have to say that Jabra 75ts are a tighter fit ear: blocking a bit more ambient noise out than Surface Earbuds. Jabra 85ts ended up being a poorer fit for me than 75ts – but still better than Surface Earbuds.
There is a lots of good in Surface Earbuds. I used them indoors both in normal and Teams calls on my mobile. You get a cool sounding welcome (in stereo) when you but them on. In summer it was more fun to use them for music than using over-the-ears (no sweat…) . And when indoors they sit ok in my ears – I don’t have to fear dropping them out that much and even if they would drop it would be easy to retrieve. Using these for hours did cause some ear ache due to not-perfect fit.
Overall I do like Surface Earbuds – but I would only use them indoors as “Office buds”. Unfortunately I couldn’t get that perfect fit with my ears so I could use them more versatilely. When testing these were easy to keep on the desk and put on when a call came in. When testing buds with Surface Duo 2 I would they worked very well together – match made at Surface team tables. Audio quality and usability was quite spot on – and using Cortana was very natural with buds. No need to say, but I say it anyway: Teams calls had no audio issues of any kind during my test period. I have also paired them with my iPad Air to enjoy Teams calls in more mobile way.
There are lots of earbuds in the market – it is best for everyone to read from experience, shortlist suitable models (value-money-style (if applicable) ) and then try them out that they fit your ears & needs before making the final decision.
If you use digital assistant you can activate it with Earbuds as well. Ambient noise cancelling microphones help with speech-to-text support as well and you can also control slides with left bud. I don’t see me dictating too much text using speech-to-text yet but of course this can change once immersive Metaverse is being used more daily.
I am eager to see what Surface Buds 2 will be like when they are announced. #Waiting