Microsoft unveiled its second audio offering, the Surface Earbuds, here at its Surface Event in New York City today. They'll release for $249 sometime later this year.
The devices support Windows, Android and iOS with hand gestures that you make upon the hardware for each operating system. I saw the earbuds in Glacier White, but there's a gray color coming later this year.
I got to try the Surface Earbuds on at the event, and let me tell you this: they're surprisingly comfortable. There are three potential tip sizes: small, medium and large, and each of those inserts comes in the box. Medium worked well for me. You just put it in with the tip facing down and twist it towards your ear canal. Control gestures were simple; one example is swiping up and down to increase or decrease the volume.
Microsoft claims 24 hours of battery: 8 hours of charge and two additional charges in the case.
The sound, in my limited test, was surprisingly good for an earbud. Rock anthems, acoustic strings and even a live Coldplay concert stood out with details and ambience.
Microsoft Surface Earbuds Specs
|Battery||Up to 24 hours with case|
The cool part for big Windows users will be Office 365 support. I was walked through how this works with PowerPoint specifically. Microsoft showed off live subtitling, which has about a 1 second delay. When I did it and turned the language to Spanish, it took an additional second to translate my speech. It was accurate, and I could totally see using this while giving a presentation. You can also use the earbuds to switch slides.
I was not shown how the Surface Earbuds work with Word, Excel or Outlook, but I'm told there will be details on those later. Functionality with the productivity suite should come with an update to Office 365 later this year, I was told.
On iOS and Android, there will be a mobile app, mostly for tuning, but you can also use it to access Cortana.