When Apple unveiled the AirPods in 2016, the first thing I thought was how dorky they looked with that long stem and no wires.
Fast-forward three years, and you know what looks dorky? Wearing wired earbuds like a dang peasant!
I only mention this to show that I am obviously not the best at predicting what kind of gadgets will look too nerdy to go mainstream. But when Microsoft unveiled its new Surface Earbuds today, it’s a pretty safe bet to say they’re so ugly not even nerds will love them.
The new Surface Earbuds reach an ungodly level of ugly. The touch-sensitive discs on the outside look like they’re about the size of a Pog (if you’re old enough to get that reference). When you shove them in your ears, it almost looks as though you’re wearing giant gauged earrings. Pretty sure we all agreed by the early 2000s that gauges look pretty stupid, but Microsoft is ready to bring back the trend.
Want proof the Surface Earbuds are going to be a dud, except with maybe dads? Check out this guy testing them out at the event:
— Avi Greengart (@greengart) October 2, 2019
Surface Earbuds are nothing like AirPods
Honestly, it’s a shame Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds are so repulsive, because they actually have some cool features. They’re touch- and voice-enabled, with two microphones in each bud. With the case, they get 24 hours of battery life. The speech-translation feature supports more than 60 languages. Microsoft even integrated Office 365, allowing you to check your calendar or access email with your voice.
All that neat tech comes in a bulky package — and, at $249, with an even bigger price tag than AirPods.
Ultimately, catching up with Apple’s uber-trendy wireless headphones is going to be a tough task for any company. AirPods quickly become one of Apple’s most iconic products ever. Wearing AirPods is hip and cool. Everyone’s doing it. Wearing Surface Earbuds is just going to earn you a lot of “What are those?!” remarks, and not in a good way.
To be fair, Surface Earbuds were about the only dud Microsoft laid out during today’s Surface event. For a company that somehow made a geekier AR headset than Google Glass, Microsoft’s hardware and design teams killed it with the Surface Pro X and folding Surface Neo.
Microsoft is taking some bold steps when it comes to hardware. And even though all of them might not become hits, we can praise the Surface Earbuds for at least one thing: They don’t look like AirPods.