Microsoft dove deeper than ever into the world of self-made hardware in recent years by crafting a number of very well-received products for its Surface line. On October 2, the company shared plans to take the plunge into headphones, announcing a $350 pair of noise-canceling over-ear cans called the Surface Headphones at its annual Surface event.
The sleek over-ear headphones feature much of the same technology we’ve seen from industry-leading products like the Bose QuietComfort 35 and Sony WH-1000xM3, with numerous sensors that automatically play or pause music depending on whether the headphones are on a listener’s head, and beam-forming microphones that translate to great performance on calls. Plush earpads and a relatively lightweight design should keep them comfortable during long listening sessions.
As with other noise-canceling models that hit the market in 2018, the Surface Headphones will allow listeners to pipe in a certain amount of ambient sound, so that users can hear things like train announcements, car horns, and various other outside noises without pausing their tunes. What’s unique about the Surface Headphones is just how many options Microsoft is giving listeners. There are 13 different ambient sound level options, which allow you to get super granular with that adjustment.
Windows users will also be excited about the cans’ clean integration with the Windows ecosystem. The new headphones will pair with Windows 10-based devices using the company’s Swift Pair software, and will come with the Cortana smart assistant built-in, letting you ask questions out loud and get instant responses.
One area where the new headphones fall short against Digital Trends’ favorites like the Sony WH-1000xM3 is that they only offer 15 hours of battery life when using Bluetooth (that’s about half of what the Sony model offers). They do offer up to 50 hours in wired listening mode, so you’ll be more than able to fly around the globe without needing a charge. There’s also USB-C charging — and a quick charging feature that allows you to get a full hour of playback with just 5 minutes of wall time.
The new headphones were reportedly years in the making, and we’re excited to get some ears-on time with them. We don’t have too long to wait, either. The headphones will be available beginning on November 19, and will be up for pre-order via the Microsoft Store on November 15.
Updated on October 8: Added information on availability and pre-ordering.
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