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Surface Earbuds $179.99 @Microsoft Store (MSRP: $199.99)

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I went to the Microsoft Store to preorder a pair and it put it as $179.99 in my cart, stating that I had qualified for the student/military discount. I didn't even try to ask for a student/military discount.

I ended up getting 2 pairs for my girlfriend and me. The selling points for me were:
  • long battery life
  • doesn't go into the ear canal

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p...verviewtab
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Created 05-06-2020 at 08:47 PM by dirtyvu
in Smart Watches & Wearables (8) Get Microsoft Store Coupons
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Joined Feb 2008
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#2
Do we know if these are better than the Pixel/Samsung wireless earbuds?
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Joined Apr 2014
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#3
You just have to click the button to 'self qualify' for the discount - Brings back the "is it zune bad?" Memories from Silicon Valley :-D
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Joined Nov 2014
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#4
Quote from AlphaSix
:
Do we know if these are better than the Pixel/Samsung wireless earbuds?
According to MKBHD his top 3 are the Air Pod Pros, Samsung Bud+, and Pixel Bud

https://youtu.be/48bK3mmjgRE
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Joined Dec 2013
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#5
Quote from NinjaMode
:
According to MKBHD his top 3 are the Air Pod Pros, Samsung Bud+, and Pixel Bud

https://youtu.be/48bK3mmjgRE
But these new ones are just announced.
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#6
Quote from AlphaSix
:
Do we know if these are better than the Pixel/Samsung wireless earbuds?
the battery life is longer and they don't go into the ear canal. MKB even said that the new Pixel ones would irritate after a couple hours. If you ever wear the ones that don't go into the ear canal, you can wear them all day long. and so far, the only ones like that are the original airpods and the surface ones. Even the new airpods pro go into the ear now.
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Joined Sep 2011
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#7
I really thought delaying these as long as they had that MS would tweak the design to make them a tad smaller :/
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#8
I've had the Surface Earbuds for a few hours now and I love them. This is one of the first Surface products that seem refined out of the gate. With pretty much all my Surface machines, you go through some growing pains. But these seem so refined. I'm talking the software, the hardware, the installation process, and the UI for changing settings and audio. I'll talk about my experience using a Samsung Galaxy S10+.

I've owned quite a few headphones and earphones so I have a lot of devices to compare against (I've owned so many that I should have a review channel). Let's start off with features I wanted that are not commonly talked about. One is whether your headphones/earphones can connect to multiple devices simultaneously. I'm not talking about pairing your earphones to multiple devices which all of them can do. I'm talking about having one set connected to multiple devices simultaneously. For example, watching a Youtube video on your laptop with your earphones and then hearing a phone call come into the earphones from your smartphone and then picking up the call (and not using software like Your Phone). This was a feature I loved with my Bose 700 headphones. I don't have to disconnect from one device and reconnect to another device. This is one of the reasons why I love the Bose 700 over the Sony WH1000XM3. And unfortunately, the Surface Earbuds can't do that. I'm not going to ding them because so many others do not do that either. But that's a differentiating feature that can make you stand out.

The other thing I look for is how far the earphones can get from the phone or computer and how far apart the earpieces can be separated from each other and continue to play perfectly. And the reason I look for this is with many sets, only one earpiece is technically connected to the phone and that earpiece then beams to the other earpiece. Which means when you decide to only use one, you don't get a choice of which one to use. You either use the primary one or you use both at the same time. The other aspect of that is how far apart these earpieces can be from each other. My girlfriend and I run together and she'll wear one earpiece and I'll wear the other earpiece. With some models out there (e.g., Apple Airpods), we can run 10+ feet apart from each other and each earpiece can get the audio clearly and we can choose which earpiece to use individually. Contrast that with the Bose SoundSport Free where you can't separate one earpiece from the other by more than 4 feet or else you only get audio out of the right one (which is the primary one). Bose didn't think about this because they probably reasoned that the earpieces wouldn't be separated from each other by more than a foot because a person would wear it in his left and right ears. Also, my Garmin Fenix 5 (and many other devices) didn't have a strong BT antenna so one of the earpieces would reach the watch easily and the farther earpiece would have intermittent issues (when clear line of sight, no problem; but other times, my body would be enough to block the signal). And this is where the Surface Earbuds do shine! I separated the earpieces and the phone from each other by 15 feet each, in a triangle configuration and sound remained loud and clear.

another unique feature I look for is whether both earpieces have mics and whether on phone calls, both earpieces hear audio. You would think it would be obvious that you hear audio out of both during a phone call but that is not the case. I've returned many brands and models because they didn't have this feature.
Most people only use earphones for music and not for phone calls, but I really need them to work for calls too.

And the last thing I really look for is latency. Most people only listen to music so latency isn't an issue because you aren't comparing the audio against a landmark. The main test people use for latency is watching videos. Watch Youtube on your phone connected to your car and see the lipsync problems due to latency. Videos are a decent test for latency. However, if you really want to test latency, do something like play a video game. And the Surface Earbuds are pretty good. Watching videos, everything looked synced. However when playing video games, I think I can detect a slight latency. It's at the point where you do a test and ask yourself if there was lag and you keep testing. So it's close enough that you keep testing, but enough latency that something seems off as you're playing the game.

Now back to how everyone else tests earphones. The first thing is the pairing experience. And the pairing experience is fantastic. It's the smoothest and fastest pairing experience I've had outside of the Apple Airpods (outstanding with an iPhone because of that custom chip but just normal BT pairing with Android which is relatively bad compared to other earphones pairing with Android) and the Bose 700. The app is great to pair! You don't need the app to pair, but I would advise using the app to pair instead of pairing directly in the Android settings. However, if you do decide to use the app, I recommend not pairing in the settings first. The funny thing is you see a notification that the Surface Audio app is running to keep the earbuds connected. I think Bluetooth is just finicky in general no matter what brand or model you buy. If people use BT constantly, you'll experience things like having to turn BT off and on to get devices to connect again. Or sometimes you have to unpair and repair to get a device to work again (where even power cycling a device doesn't help). But so far, the Surface Earbuds have been 100% solid. And it's nice to hear in the earbuds what device you're connected to rather than just a generic connected sound or prompt.

Now the fit. I think the Surface Earbuds are super comfortable.... but not as comfortable as the Apple Airpods. It's close though and in your ears, it might be more comfortable. Now, both the Airpods and the Surface Earbuds don't go into the ear canal which is a differentiator from most earphones. However, I feel that the Surface Earbuds are slightly bigger in the ear even when using the smallest rubber pieces. And the Surface Earbuds are heavier than the Airpods. I've tried extensively various models of Jabra, Sony, Apple, Bose, Samsung, and Google. And a few hours in many more brands.
So far, only the Airpods have felt great to have over 3 hours (though the battery doesn't last long enough to really wear them longer than 3 hours). These Surface ones supposedly last 8 hours but I haven't had the chance to test comfort over 8 hours.

The glassy touch surface is fantastic to use. Motions are easy. And you can use all the smart assistants: Google, Siri, Cortana, Bixby. However, the glassy surface is a fingerprint magnet. I guess that's to be expected. And pretty much all of the competitors don't even have touch. However, Microsoft did separate out the command to the earpieces so you will have to memorize. For example volume up and down swipes are on the right ear and the forward/backward track is on the left ear. That prevents accidentally swiping in the wrong direction (which I did on occasion with my Bose where I swiped kind of diagonally and it interpreted an up as a skip forward). However, it also means if you decide to only wear the left one, you'll miss out on volume controls unless you use Google Assistant.

The charging case is really nice. big. but nice. The earpieces can't fall out because of the magnets. It looks like it's hard to take them out of the case but it's quite easy. And somehow, the left can only go in the left and the right into the right but it's not obvious why that is so.

Audio... Is excellent! I haven't had a chance to try the AirPods Pro yet. But I think the Surface ones can go toe to toe with all the biggies. And the Surface Audio app has an equalizer. Even my Bose 700 doesn't have an equalizer (a plus with the Sony ones). And my Samsung Galaxy S10+ doesn't have an equalizer in the settings. The Surface app is actually consumer friendly with a decent amount of features. If you're coming from AirPods or the Sony's, you won't feel out of place.

I haven't had a chance to see if it can go 8 hours on a charge. To be tested.

As for looks, it's quite polarizing. People either think it looks cool or think it looks funny. You don't get neutral reactions or meh reactions. I'm going to skin mine if skins become available.

I think the Surface Earbuds are much more successful than the original Surface Earphones. That was rough. I ended up returning it after a couple days. If you've experience the smooth experience of Bose or Sony, the Surface Earphones felt like a 1.0. I wouldn't take the original Surface Earphones over any of the Bose ones from the QC35 line to the QC25 line to the QC15 line, let alone the new 700 line. I haven't had a chance to try the surface Earphones 2 though. I'm glad that Microsoft delayed the Earbuds after experiencing these. Even the update process was smoother than most Microsoft products. I had to do one update when I first installed and it did take awhile (doing it over a cell connection in a big office building), but no snags happened.

Oh, I do use Spotify. Now, if Spotify is running or is minimized, the Spotify tap-3x-to-start-music feature works with the earbuds. however, if you do not have spotify running at all, tapping 3x, you'll hear the spotify start sound but it won't launch the app. just something to note.

Now tomorrow is when I test Surface Earbud with my girlfriend's iPhone. If it succeeds there, Microsoft has a game winner.
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