Surface Earbuds: Microsoft's answer to Apple's AirPods
The new true wireless Surface Earbuds are arriving later this year for $249.
David CarnoyExecutive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
ExpertiseMobile accessories and portable audio, including headphones, earbuds and speakersCredentials
Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
Last year Microsoft released a pair of Surface noise-canceling headphones. This year it's jumping on the true wireless bandwagon with its new cord-free Surface Earbuds. While we're awaiting more info and a full list of specs, what we do know is that they'll be released in time for the holidays and cost $249. At its Surface Event in New York on Wednesday, the company touted the Surface Earbuds' comfortable fit, tap-and-swipe controls that allow you to access Spotify playlists without touching your phone (for Android users) and on-the-fly translation capabilities, with support for 60 languages.
Watch this: Microsoft's Surface Earbuds are touch-friendly
As far as the Earbuds go, they have an open design, much like Apple's AirPods, but look almost like earrings on the outside with a disc-shaped exterior -- think Pixel Buds, but without the cord. They also feature integration with Microsoft Office apps.
As for battery life, Microsoft says the Surface Earbuds deliver a healthy 8 hours of battery life from a single charge and the charging case (with USB-C charging) provides an additional three charges. They're slash-resistant, with an IPX4 rating.
Last week, Amazon announced its new true wireless Echo Buds ($130) with integrated Alexa support. The Surface Earbuds' $249 price tag puts them in premium territory, so they better sound very good and be stellar for making calls. According to Microsoft, each earbud is equipped with "custom-designed drivers that are precisely tuned to deliver an exceptional acoustic experience" along with two microphones to "deliver exceptional voice recognition and call quality."
I'll post a full review of the Surface Earbuds when they're released later this year.