Microsoft Finally Ships Surface Earbuds, Updated Surfaces

Surface Book 3, Surface Go 2, and Surface Headphones 2 ship this month

It's been a long wait for Microsoft's unusual-looking earbuds. Now, Surface and Windows 10 fans have a whole new collection of updated gear to enhance their work-at-home lifestyle.

Surface Earbuds
Surface Earbuds.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

These are strange times: No live events, no product launch soirees, and even private briefings are held over video. Sometimes, products just show up with a promise of details to follow.

On Wednesday, Microsoft launched four new products, including the eagerly anticipated Surface Earbuds, an update to the pint-sized, lightweight Surface Go, a more powerful Surface Book 3, and the new Surface Headphones 2.

I know, that’s a lot of hardware for one sleepy spring day. Let’s break it down.

Surface Earbuds: Microsoft was a bit late to the game when it unveiled its own AirPod competitor in October of last year. The $199 Bluetooth headphones were supposed to ship in December, but that date slipped and then, well, the world changed.

Now, they’re here and they look and feel pretty much as I remember them. The tablet shaped charging case is sleek, white, and larger than that of an AirPod (first and second generation); it has a USB-C port on the back. Flipping open the flat top reveals a pair of large, flat disks, which are actually the earbuds. Microsoft took a fair amount of ribbing for the touch surface design last fall, but it appears unchanged. Wear these earbuds and you will get noticed.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds
Microsoft Surface Earbuds in their recharging case.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

The touch sensitivity lets you control music, answer calls, and access a variety of Microsoft 365 functions, including dictation in Word and controlling your presentation (I cannot help thinking about people tapping and swiping at their ears during their next keynote). With the Outlook App on iOS, you can use the Surface Earbuds to read back your emails to you and, on Android, you can control music in your Spotify account.

Microsoft Surface Earbuds
Microsoft Surface Earbuds outside their case.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Battery life is rated for 8 hours of playback, while the case adds another 16 hours of charge.

While the Surface Earbuds can use its microphones to reduce background noise during a call, it lacks the kind of noise cancellation you’ll find in Apple AirPods Pro or Amazon Echo Buds.

Surface Earbuds ship on May 12.

Surface Go 2: Microsoft’s smallest Windows 10 Surface device, the Surface Go addresses one of the chief complaints about the original Go by enlarging the 10-inch PixelSense screen to 10.5 inches. The black bezel around the tablet is essentially the same size (roughly 3/8th of an inch) as what you’d find on a Surface Pro. At 1.2 lbs., the Surface Go 2 is about a half a pound lighter than a Surface Pro 7.

Microsoft Surface Go 2
Microsoft Surface Go 2.  Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

It still has the single USB-C port, along with a 3.5 mm headphone jack and the Surface Connect charging port.

The Go 2 may now be a more attractive video conferencing solution thanks to new microphones, though it is paired with a relatively low resolution 5 MP front-facing camera. I'm pleased to see the Windows Hello camera, which lets you unlock the system with your face. The rear camera is 8 MP.

Microsoft Surface Go 2
Microsoft Surface Go 2 with the optional Alcantara Type Cover. Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

The $399 LTE-ready device now features an Intel 8th Gen Core M CPU, which means it will be faster than the previous Go, but slower than the 10th Gen processors now found in the Surface Pro line. The good news is the processor sips battery life and Microsoft is promising up to 10 hours of use per charge. The Surface Go Alcantara Signature Type Cover costs an additional $99.99.

Surface Book 3: Microsoft’s workhorse, convertible Windows 10 system still comes in a 13.5- and 15-inch size, but now features Intel’s 10th Gen Core i CPUs (i5 or i7 on the 13.5, i7 only on the 15-inch). You can still choose integrated or discrete graphics. On the latter side, you can now choose between Nvidia’s GeForce GPU or the more powerful Quadro RTX 3000 on the 15-inch model. The 13-inch model starts with 8 GB, configurable up to 32 GB of RAM and 256 GD of storage (up to 1 TB). The 15-inch starts at 16 GB (up to 256 GB) and is configurable up to 2 TB of storage.

The mechanics of the system, which lets you remove the tablet from the base (which houses the keyboard, extra battery and, potentially, a discrete GPU) and flip the screen around and reattach it, are essentially unchanged.

Surface Book 3 starts at $1,599 and ships May 21.

Surface Headphones 2: Microsoft’s over-the-ear, noise-cancelling headphones get a subtle yet useful design upgrade, better sound, and more battery life.

The body of the touch-sensitive headphones now rotate 180 degrees for a more comfortable fit. There are now two colors: the original Light Gray and a new Matte Black, which looks pretty sharp.

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2. Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Like the original Surface Headphones, the new ones recognize when you put them on and take them off to automatically stop and start your audio. They still have the touch controls for answering calls and controlling playback, as well as the control rings for quickly adjusting volume.

Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
 Lifewire / Lance Ulanoff

Microsoft also upped the battery life from 15 to 20 hours and claims that a quick five-minute charge through the USB-C charge port can get you another hour of audio playback. They ship on May 12 for $249.

Bottom Line: Microsoft’s updated Surface device lineup seems almost tailor-made for our new always-connected, stay-at-home, and work-from-home lifestyle. We can’t wait to test them out.

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