I was at the launch of these Microsoft Surface Earbuds in New York, and I wasn’t that impressed. Part of it was I wasn’t able to try them with my music or settings; part was the app that they need to work wasn’t working yet, and part was that frankly, I was more interested in some of the other announcements.
Then they sent me a pair of them and, OMG, these things are amazing. Granted, they are complete now, and they lack a feature that I expect will show up later, but these are easily the best sounding earbuds I’ve ever tried, they even sound better than some of my headphones. Now while I still think I prefer the Microsoft Surface Headphones over the earbuds, I may be coming around to a new point of view.
Let me explain.
Not A Fan Of Earbuds
My issue with earbuds is that I tend to lose them. The closest thing to an earbud solution I’ve been using is from Poly (the Voyager 6200), and their solution has the earbuds tethered to a cord that goes around your neck so that, if one falls out, it doesn’t end up in the land of lost earbuds or your pet’s stomach.
I think the Apple AirPods are particularly stupid because they aren’t at all secure in my ears, they look like you have a small mouse in your ear with a white-tail, and I’m convinced Apple-designed them with the idea you’d lose them so they could make more money selling you replacements. They even prompted this funny video. (This stuff never seems to bother Apple, recall the iPad video that preceded the iPad).
But I’ve tried a lot of earbuds over the years, and generally, I wear them once and either lose one or just go back to headphones.
So for me to favor any earbud is pretty impressive, let alone think I might use these instead of headphones.
Now what makes the Surface Earbuds different is they sound amazing. I mean seriously when I first got the app installed and the earbuds paired, I was shocked at a depth of sound I was getting from them. Typically the low end in earbuds suck but not with these; they had decent lows. I got so excited I had to run and find my wife both so I could point out her Apple AirPods suck in comparison and how great these things sound (honestly, it was a lot more of the former than the latter).
This move was a tad stupid on my part because she now wants a pair. Then again, our anniversary is coming up, and it may have solved this year’s gift problem. Like with Surface Headphones, you can use the circular surface (no pun intended) on the Surface Earbuds to advance your music, adjust the volume, and even answer phone calls. One unique feature I can’t picture using is for controlling slides. I just can’t imagine tapping my ear to advance the slides, and if it ever didn’t work, the grief I’d likely get from peers would be impressive.
I haven’t yet tried the feature that allows you to listen to and reply to emails mainly because, like you, I’m stuck at home. Just walking over to do this on a tablet or computer is far more convenient. But, if I ever travel again, this could come in handy for fast responses.
Oh, and as far as falling out, so far they haven’t. They not only fit securely in my ear (they come with different size earpieces), but the default fit me fine.
So where I’d typically pan earbuds just as a matter of principle, the only world I can apply to these is “Awesome!”.
There is one enhancement I’d eventually like to see to these, and that is some kind of custom covering so that you could better match them to who you are and what you are wearing. The large circular part of the earbud that sticks out of your ear looks unfinished to me and begs for some kind of custom treatment, so the result looks more fashionable.
Given the nature of the touch technology the Surface Earbuds use, it shouldn’t be too hard to create a removable cover that would allow you to alter the look of the earbuds for different events or different ensembles.
I’d bet money that the folks over at Toast, who make leather and wood covers for Surface notebooks and have a custom wood case for the Apple Airpods will eventually address this shortcoming. And, given the size, I’d expect the result to be relatively affordable.
Sometimes a product is so good it causes me to rethink how I view the category. I wasn’t a fan of anyone’s earbuds because they simply were too easy to lose. These new Microsoft Surface Earbuds appear to be more secure, they are larger enough to see if you do drop them, and the sound out of them is exceptional. While I look forward to some form of customization, the only headphones I have that give them a run for the money are the Surface headphones, which also just got refreshed (I haven’t tried the new ones yet) but I’m suddenly a believer. Hmmm, I think I have an idea for the theme song Microsoft should use for these things with just a few word changes.
Check them out and stay safe out there!