Audio products like headphones and headsets have become must-have accessories in the "hybrid workplace" as huge numbers of people continue to work out of their homes (or anywhere they can get a good internet connection). With that in mind, Microsoft on Tuesday introduced a handful of new audio accessories geared toward telecommuters and remote learners, announced alongside the new Microsoft Surface Laptop 4.
These new accessories include a Microsoft Teams-certified UC version of the Surface Headphones 2 that comes with a USB dongle, two Modern headsets with integrated boom microphones, a Modern USB-C speakerphone and a Modern Webcam. Here's a quick look at all the upcoming products, most of which will ship this June.
Read more: All the best headphones for working at home in 2021
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Plus
According to Microsoft, this headphone is exactly the same as the existing Surface Headphones 2 noise-canceling headphone, but is certified for Microsoft Teams with the included USB dongle, and "provides an even more robust meeting experience with on-ear Teams controls and improved remote calling." At $300 (£290), this Plus version costs $50 more than the standard version. It's available to order now, Microsoft says.
The Surface Headphones 2 already work well as a PC headset, particularly for Windows users, but companies like Bose have put out business versions of their flagship noise-canceling headphones (the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 UC) that allows users to more easily pair with two devices (PC, smartphone) simultaneously.
Read our review of the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2.
Microsoft Modern USB headset
Microsoft has two new headsets coming soon. The wired version -- the Modern USB headset -- will retail for $50 and is certified for Microsoft Teams, with a dedicated Teams button that allows you to easily join a meeting or answer a call (there's also a handy mute button). If nothing else, it's affordable, but I would have liked to see a USB-C version as this one is USB-A.
The Microsoft Modern USB headset is scheduled to ship in June.
Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset
This has the same features as the Modern Wired Headset but offers Bluetooth wireless connectivity and includes a USB dongle for PC connections (it can wirelessly connect to two devices at the same time). Microsoft says you can get up to 50 hours of music listening time or up to 30 hours of talk time on a Microsoft Teams call. Flipping the boom microphone up mutes the microphone.
The Microsoft Modern Wireless Headset also ships in June but no pricing is available yet. I suspect it will be in the $150 to $200 range. Jabra's snazzier Evolve2 65 UC costs around $220.
Microsoft Modern USB-C speaker
Thie Microsoft Modern USB-C speaker appears to be a fairly typical plug-and-play USB-C speakerphone -- with an integrated cord -- that also can be used for casual music listening (it will lack bass judging from all the other speakers like this that I've tested). It has dual microphones and the same "intuitive" controls found on Microsoft's Modern USB Headset. As you might expect, it's also certified for Microsoft Teams. It ships this June for $100.
Microsoft's follow on to its LifeCam line, the new Microsoft Modern Webcam doesn't offer much novelty insofar as webcams go: It's a basic 1,080-pixel 30 frames per second model with a meeting-friendly 78 degree field of view, autoexposure and white balance optimized for faces, and a built-in privacy shutter.
It's priced at $70, which puts it directly in competition with Logitech's popular C920s Pro HD, a completely unsurprising move on Microsoft's part, but does manage to be more compact than that model and many other options at 3.0 by 1.4 by 2.9 inches (51 by 36 by 75mm). As you'd expect, the Modern Webcam is also Microsoft Teams Certified. It'll be available in June.
Read more: Best noise canceling headphones for 2021