Microsoft announces the Surface Headphones

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Microsoft has unveiled a new member of the Surface family: the Surface Headphones.

Microsoft doing headphones? It didn’t seem as odd as it sounds, because, well, everybody seems to be doing headphones these days. But how good could they be? Or rather: Could they compete with top noise-canceling headphones from Bose and Sony, which also happen to cost around $350?

The first thing that became clear, and that Microsoft wanted to make clear to me, was that this wasn’t some hastily organized project where Microsoft slapped its brand on headphones it dug up from some partner in China.

The Surface Headphones were designed in-house over three years by a large team of designers and engineers. And in case I wasn’t already aware, Microsoft has a world-class industrial design facility and a bunch of labs to test products as it builds and refines them.

The rather surprising addition to the Surface range is a set of noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones. They’re large, over-ear headphones with soft, comfortable ear cups. Each ear cup has a spinning dial: one to control the volume, and the other to control the level of noise cancellation. The headphones know when they’re on your head and automatically pause your music when you take them off. And they contain four microphones to pick up clear audio for talking to Cortana or making phone calls. Microsoft estimates they’ll last 15 hours on a charge and take less than two hours to recharge over their USB Type-C connector.

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