Erfahrungsbericht: Microsoft Surface Headphones

Surface Headphones

Lange Zeit habe ich ausschließlich in-Ear Kopfhörer getragen. Aber wie das im Alter so ist – man wird bequemer. Und so wuchs der Wunsch nach geschlossenen Muschelohrhörern. Gelandet bin ich schließlich bei den Microsoft Surface Headphones – einerseits wegen der meisten Testberichte, andererseits, da sie eben nicht nur optisch perfekt zu meinem Surface Laptop passen.

Los geht’s

Geliefert werden sie mit einer recht großen Tasche (sie lassen sich nicht zusammenfalten), einem USB-C Kabel zum Laden und einem Kabel für die 3,5mm Klinke, wenn man nicht drahtlos hören möchte.

Als erstes habe ich mir die Surface Headphone App für Windows 10 installiert und die Kopfhörer mit dem Laptop verbunden, woraufhin sie erst mal ein Systemupdate verpasst bekamen. Der App merkt man an, dass die Headphones – wahrscheinlich – in erster Linie als Zusatzgerät für “Andromeda” entwickelt wurden, das Surface Gerät für die Hostentasche. Nun, derzeit hat “Centaurus” höhere Priorität, aber die Kopfhörer arbeiten auch mit den anderen Surface Devices und natürlich auch mit iPhones und Android Smartphones zusammen:

Viel kann man mit der App nicht machen, am interessantesten ist sicherlich die Equalizer Funktion, die sich die Einstellungen jeweils dauerhaft merkt.

Genau so unkompliziert wie das Koppeln mit dem Windows Laptop klappte es dann auch mit meinem Google Pixel 2 XL – und beide Geräte lassen sich ohne Probleme parallel nutzen.

Auf dem Kopf

Aber Kopfhörer gehören auf den Kopf, und da müssen sie sich gut anfühlen:

Wie man den Tragekomfort von Kopfhörern bewertet ist natürlich immer eine sehr individuelle Sache. Die Apple Airpods fallen bei mir z.B. immer direkt heraus, während die Google Pixel USB-C Kopfhörer bei mir perfekt sitzen, Bericht zu letzteren übrigens hier. Bei mir sitzen die Surface Headphones jedenfalls gut. Vlad Savov von The Verge findet in seinem Test, dass sie etwas zu fest am Kopf klammern, das ist bei mir aber nicht der Fall – ganz im Gegenteil, ich empfinde das als angenehm, da ich mir so auch bei einem Sprint zum Bus oder beim moderaten Joggen im Kottenforst keine Sorgen machen muss, dass sie mir herunterfallen.

Die Beschichtung der Ohrteile (wie heißen die eigentlich, egal, Sie wissen, was ich meine, wahrscheinlich Hörmuschel) ist aus einer Art Kunstleder (?), mit dem ich bislang gut zurechtkomme; bislang war es noch nie so heiß, dass es durch Schwitzen unangenehm wurde. Auch die Aussparung ist für meine Ohren groß genug. Der Bügel ist gut gepolstert, so dass trotz des Gewichts von fast 250g kein unangenehmes Gefühl aufkommt.

Das einzige was mich etwas stört: Wenn ich mir die Kopfhörer um den Nacken lege, stoßen die Ohrteile vorne an meinen Hals, was ich als äußerst unangenehm empfinde. Das ist allerdings bei fast alles Muschel-Kopfhörern so, die ich getestet habe.

Genau so wie bei Tastaturen gilt aber – am besten selbst mal ausprobieren.

Im Einsatz

Hat man sie einmal auf und schaltet sie ein, wird man zunächst begrüßt: Eine nette Stimme verrät einem, mit welchen Geräten man gerade verbunden ist und wie lange die Akkulaufzeit noch noch ist.

Dazu schnell ein Wort: Die 15 Stunden Laufzeit , die Microsoft als Obergrenze angibt, werden in der Praxis erreicht. Das ist nicht überragend, reicht aber, um in der Praxis durch den Tag im Dauereinsatz zu kommen. Und immerhin: nach nur fünf Minuten Laden kann man eine gute Stunde hören. Geht der Akku der Neige zu, wird man nett gewarnt und kann  sich die nächste USB-C-Steckdose suchen.

Neben dem USB Ladeanschluss gibt es noch den für das Kopfhörerkabel, den Ein-Ausschalter, Stummtaste für die Mikros und eine unauffällige Status LED, alles untergebracht am rechten Ohrteil.

Die Bedienung der Surface Headphones ist ansonsten sehr einfach – um nicht zu sagen genial: Um die Ohrmuscheln herum befinden sich zwei faktisch unsichtbare Drehringe. Mit dem rechten regelt man die Lautstärke, mit dem linken die Intensität des ANC (Active Noise Cancelling), also der aktiven Geräuschunterdrückung.

Ich bin nicht der große Audioexperte und mein Gehör ist nicht das beste, aber für mich klingen sie sehr gut. Die Bässe sind satt, aber nicht zu schwer, saubere Mitten und beim Hören der Höhen habe ich Probleme – aber eben nur, weil ich nicht mehr gut höre (ich schrieb ja schon übers Alter). Dass nur Bluetooth 4.2 – allerdings sehr stabil – und kein AAC oder AptX unterstützt werden, stört mich nicht weiter. Jemand der sich damit auskennt und den ich länger hören ließ meinte, sie wären besser als die Beats Studio 3 und nicht ganz so gut wie die Sony 1000X M3. Aber auch beim Sound gilt: hören Sie am besten mal Probe.

Die beiden Flächen der Hörmuscheln sind übrigens große Touch-Panel:

  • einmal Tippen: Pause
  • zweimal Tippen: Titel vor
  • dreimal Tippen: Titel zurück
  • lange Halten: Assistent aufrufen

Auf dem Windows Rechner taucht dann bei letzterer Aktion die hierzulande vernachlässigte Cortana auf, auf dem iPhone Siri und bei Android der Google Assistant. Den kann man dann z.B. damit beauftragen, einen Anruf zu tätigen, was unspektakulär funktioniert. Die Sprachqualität ist sehr gut und absolut praxistauglich (mE noch ein Grund, an dem man merkt, dass die Headphones für Andromeda entzwickelt wurden…). Woran ich mich gewöhnen musste: Bevor man mit dem Assistenten spricht, sollte man das Bestätigungsgeräusch abwarten, sonst geht der Anfang der Sprachbefehle verloren.

Eine weitere praktische Funktion: nimmt man die Headphones ab, schalten sie auf Pause, setzt man sie wieder auf, setzen sie die Wiedergabe fort.

Spannend finde ich die Geräuschunterdrückung, die sich in 13 Stufen regeln lässt und in einer Stufe sogar die Umgebungsgeräusche verstärkt. Das ist dann praktisch, wenn z.B. eine Durchsage in der Bahn während eines Telefons kommt, man im Straßenverkehr unterwegs ist oder beim Joggen im Wald auch die Vögel hören will. Je nach dem wie intensiv ansonsten das ANC eingestellt wird, macht es die Musik etwas dumpfer bzw. sorgt je nach Umgebungsgeräuschen für ein leichtes Grundrauschen. Die Unterdrückung ist verblüffend gut: In der höchsten Einstellung hört man z.B. bei einer Bahnfahrt im Regionalexpress Hintergrundgeräusche faktisch gar nicht mehr und Stimmen deutlich reduziert. Und beim Rasenmähen muss man die Musik nicht mehr voll aufdrehen. Die einzige Situation, in der ich die Funktion aus dem Tritt bringen konnte war das Geräusch von siedendem Wasser im Hintergrund, was seinerseits das ANC veranlasste, störende Knacksgeräusche zu produzieren – ein paar Stufen weniger und diese traten nicht mehr auf. Ein totales Ausblenden der Umwelt kann man natürlich nicht in allen Situationen erwarten, aber doch ein deutlich angenehmeres Geräuschumfeld.

Ein Fazit

Würde ich mir die Surface Headphones also nochmal kaufen? Auf jeden Fall.

Für meinen Geschmack ist Microsofts Debut in diesen Markt gut geglückt. Das Bediensystem ist für mich das beste auf dem Markt, der Tragekomfort ist sehr gut, die Musikqualität und die Telefonie ebenfalls. Das einzige was mich stört, ist die Akkulaufzeit, die länger sein könnte.

Für Surface Fans sind sie aus meiner Sicht jedenfalls ein echtes Muss.

Wer jetzt zuschlagen möchte, bei Amazon gibt es den aktuellen Preis.

Hier noch für alle Interessierten die

Technischen Daten

Länge: 204 mm
Breite: 195 mm
Tiefe: 48 mm
Gewicht: 249g
Farbe: Hellgrau

Frequenzgang: 20–20 kHz

Geräuschunterdrückung:
Bis zu 30 dB bei aktiver Rauschunterdrückung
Bis zu 40 dB bei passiver Rauschunterdrückung

Lautsprecher:
40-mm-Free-Edge-Treiber
Schalldruckpegel
Bis zu 115 dB (1 kHz, 1 Vrms über Kabelverbindung im eingeschalteten Zustand)
Bis zu 115 dB (1 kHz, 0 dBFS über Bluetooth-Verbindung)

Aufladen:
Vollständig geladen in weniger als 2 Stunden
Akkulaufzeit
Bis zu 15 Stunden (mit Musik-Wiedergabe über Bluetooth, ANC aktiviert)

Eingänge:
USB-C-Anschluss
3,5-mm-Audioanschluss

Kompatibilität:
Windows 10, iOS, Android, MacOS

Tasten/Bedienelemente:
Ein-/Aus-Taste, Stummschalttaste, Lautstärkeregler (am rechten Ohr), Geräuschunterdrückungsregler (am linken Ohr)

Lieferumfang:
Surface Headphones
Transporttasche
USB-Kabel (1,5m)
Audio-Kabel (1,2m)
Schnellstartanleitung, Sicherheitshinweise und Garantieunterlagen

Lifehack: Gepolsterter Umschlag als Notebook-Hülle

Wenn man gerade keine Hülle für sein Notebook zur Hand hat: ein gepolsterter Umschlag tut es zur Not auch.

Und warum auch nicht generell? Denn ein günstigeres Sleeve wird man wohl kaum finden…

Can the iPad Pro replace my laptop? The decision.

So, two weeks are almost over and my time to return the iPad Pro is ending. The question, whether I am going to keep the iPad, has now to be answered.

My answer is no, I am returning the iPad. I would very much like to keep it but it does not fulfill my needs entirely. It is almost there, but not quite.

image

However, I am going to miss A LOT of things, no matter what other device I am getting afterwards. The display is simply stunning and I have never seen a device with such a great screen. Not only are the colors very accurate and the contrast extremely high, but also is TrueTone a feature that I do not want to miss anymore. Well, I will have to, of course. The display adjusting to the temperature of the light of the environment is so convenient and it makes starring at the display so much better. I had a few late night working sessions where I typed some documents. I still know how tired my eyes became on my old computer. Not so with the iPad. The screen is a joy to look at and it is great for your eyes.
The “couch surfing ability” is probably the best in its league. With its light and slim design the iPad is a pleasure to hold and its screen size is the perfect mix of productivity and portability. Being productive on 10 inches works as great as doing leisure stuff. And whoever now wonders, how one can be productive with 10 inches, to those I can say that it is iOS that makes this possible.

iOS is a very easy to use OS but the way things work is simply intuitive and logical. It is VERY different to Windows and it takes getting used to. However, once you learned how to use iOS, it just flies. Oh, and of course the performance, that flies too. Everything opens instantly, even 4K video rendering or playing GTA San Andreas make the device barely warm and the battery drops only a few percentages. The iPad Pro is a simply efficient and very well performing device. Yes, it can compete with an expensive laptop in that matter and I’d say that in terms of system performance, it even beats most.

Last but not least I am going to miss the apps. I am really not an app guy who installs a lot of them. That’s why 32gb are still enough for my needing. It is just that the apps are so high quality and beautiful that it is a pleasure to use them. Also it makes consuming stuff a lot more fun.

How the iPad works together with my iPhone is magical (to use Apple’s word). This is simply comfortable and innovative. More than that, it makes working actually fun and very efficient.

And the battery… Oh gosh the battery is so amazing.

Why am I returning it then? The answer is Microsoft Office. Sure, I could simply use a different software, but let’s face it: if you need compatibility, Office is the way to go, and you never know when you need that compatibility. But it is not Office itself, it is the small things. I have created some longer documents on the iPad without bigger issues and they look very nice. However, “without bigger issues” still means that there were some smaller ones. I do not mean that one needs to create tables in Excel, then copy them into Word to have a complex table in a word document. That is just a different way, a different workflow that one gets used to. I do mean that once the table is pasted, it cannot be edited and formatted, only filled with data. Worse, it cannot be resized.

Pictures can be added and formatted with no problems. However, they cannot be positioned with the help of a grid. Therefore they cannot be aligned perfectly to the left, center or right. Also it does not seem to be possible to change the background of a document.

Palm detection works great in every app expect OneNote, where I need it the most.

It is those small things.

It is a pity, really, because those are little things that might be patched in the future. But might is not what I want from a device that I will need for university. Also I cannot be a hundred percent certain that the device will be compatible with everything once I start studying.

It is this very lack of certainty that makes me return the iPad. Probably Office will be updated, and my issues will no longer be existent. Probably the iPad will be compatible with everything that I will be confronted with in university. It is just that probably is a word that I do not want to have to call a device that I need to rely on this badly.
If I am getting a Surface afterwards I will miss so much stuff. So much, that in that case I do not want the Surface, I need it. Having to say that is actually quite a huge compliment to the iPad Pro.

Also, I meant it when I said that the iPad will never ever replace your computer, but it might make you overthink whether you really need one. If you are an average user who needs to do some normal productivity stuff and who also wants to have a device for leisure things, the iPad Pro is for you. It will show you that you do not need a computer. I am very sure about that.

However, once one needs a little bit more than that, the iPad can no longer fulfill all needs. IOS is just too closed of a system – but one will miss out a lot of the things that only the iPad has to offer, especially if you have another iOS or macOS device.
Let’s just summarize it that way: the iPad Pro is the device you want and need if you need basic productivity only. No other device is that good at being a tablet and a computer at the same time, not even the Surface.

However, once you need a little more, the iPad Pro is only the device you want, no longer the one you need. It is a pleasure to use the iPad Pro and it does a lot of things very well, but the closed nature of iOS limits it too much. Therefore the iPad can be a great addition to your existing setup for sure, but it can no longer be your main device.

In my case I am probably getting a Surface later this year. I no longer want the Surface, I need it. The alternative would be to get a normal PC next to the iPad but if you read the first part of that “review” then you know that this is not what I want.

Farewell, my lovely iPad, you will be missed.

The iPad Pro 9.7: replacing my laptop?

So I needed a device for university. I always thought about getting a Surface because I figured it would be the best device. It has a pen, a beautifully large display, it’s fast and responsive and it runs a full version of Windows. However, when the time to actually purchase a new computer has come, EUR 999 (at least) were just too much.
So I looked for alternatives. Unfortunately I have not found anything nearly interesting that runs Windows. I mean sure, there were some devices that caught my attention but none of these were really convincing. However, I’ve seen some reviews on YouTube and saw that the iPad Pro is actually capable of most of the things that I need a computer to do.

Before I got the iPad I was using a Samsung Series 9 Ultrabook with a 124gb SSD storage and an Intel Core i5 processor. It fairly did a good job and I was really happy with it. However, I wanted something with a Pen. What I also wanted was power. Not THAT much since I am not really doing any stuff that requires a lot of computing power. However, I wanted to have a backup. Seldom, but still sometimes, I edit pictures or cut a video. That’s why I want a device that is able to do that – and that is also why I did not want the Surface 3 (without Pro). Do not get me wrong, I am quite certain that the Surface 3 will manage all that stuff. The thing is just that the Intel Atom processor limits it in how it does it. So I have chosen the iPad Pro 9.7, which is almost as powerful as a Surface Pro 4 (seriously, see yourself)…

Isn’t the iPad just as expensive as a Surface?

Funnily, with the iPad Pro 9.7 inch I spend a lot less money than I would have spent on the Surface Pro 4. The 32gb base model (32gb seem to be enough for me since I store most things in the cloud and I do not take pictures or videos with a tablet) was about EUR 630. The Apple Pencil that I also ordered was EUR 114. Since the Surface Pro 4 comes with a pen that makes it EUR 744 vs. 999. Please do not think I am comparing the iPad to the Surface. I am not and further below you will see why. For the things that I need on the other hand, which is a device with a pen for note taking, that is nonetheless a huge price difference.

Additionally, you also need a keyboard. It would not be fair to say you have to buy the original ones because there are cheaper ones available for both. I decided to go with a Logitech universal Bluetooth keyboard for EUR 35. The Apple Smart Keyboard was not only too expensive, I also didn’t like its keys and that it only had one viewing position. Since the Logitech keyboard does not feature a stand for my iPad whatsoever, I also needed a separate one. I ordered one over Amazon for EUR 19.

That makes it EUR 798 for the iPad. If I had chosen the same keyboard I ordered for the iPad if I had bought a Surface, that would have been EUR 1034. However, that would mean I would be using Windows 10 without a mouse. This is absolutely possible but considering how badly some elements of Windows 10 are optimized for finger usage, I would definitely have gotten a mouse. Okay, I already have a mouse. I just do not take it with me anywhere, this is what the touchpad is for. The iPad, however, does not need and cannot be used with a mouse, even on the go. Windows on the other hand… And just taking the Bluetooth mouse with me does not really go with the portability thing that I require for that device (which is a absolutely subjective point), so I would have gotten the original Surface type cover, which is EUR 120. Just to be clear: for on the go usage I do not need the keyboard, that is what my pen is for. I only want to make hand written notes when I am on the go. Longer texts are written at home. However, I still want to use the device in a good way and there is no way I can attach only a touchpad to the Surface, so I would have gotten with the original Surface type cover. In other words, the Surface would not have cost me approx. EUR 1030, but about EUR 1120. This is way too much for me. Even if we say I don’t really need a mouse, EUR 800 vs EUR 1030 is still a difference. And even if you find a cheaper price for the Surface, the difference would still be quite immense.

Again, I am not comparing those two devices. I am sure the Surface is worth a thousand Euros since it can do a lot more than the iPad because it is not running a mobile, but a full desktop OS. And after the first day with the iPad I can say with a hundred percent certainty that Apple’s slogan “the tablet that can replace your computer” is absolutely wrong. This device will not replace any computer…

…that is if you need one. Because when I played around with the iPad it made me reconsider if I really need a full computer. Even on my old Ultrabook I have not used many of the “pro-elements” of that device. Since the iPad does, however, have not so little pro applications in the App Store, I think that it is quite possible that the iPad can replace the computer for those people who do stuff but not on a highly professional level. This is what I want to try out in the next two weeks (which is the time I can still send the iPad back to get a full refund). If I see that the iPad can be my university and working computer, I will keep it.

So of course I cannot write a full review of that device just yet. Also, considering how many reviews there already are out there I do not want to write a review. I rather check if it is possible to live with an iPad and no computer whatsoever. Let’s call this something like an experiment.

My setup. The Windows computer on the right is for my home office job and has nothing to do with my personal computer.
My setup. The Windows computer on the right is for my home office job and has nothing to do with my personal computer.

The device itself

Since I cannot tell you more just yet, let me very quickly do the review-ish part: how is the device in general. Let that be the first part of this review sort of thing. In this article I will tell you about the device, in the second part I will write about my experiences with the iPad as a PC replacement.

The iPad as a device is awesome! The display is stunningly beautiful. With a feature called True Tone turned on, the display really doesn’t look like a display but more like a sheet of paper or so. The performance is great too. Everything runs butterfly smooth. I already did light 4K video cutting and rendering just to check how well the iPad can handle that and even while rendering a 4K video everything ran smoothly and fast. That is what I mean by I want to have at least some power for backup. The camera is the same as on my iPhone. In other words – it’s great for sure, but I do miss some of the features of my old Lumia 1520 which, as you might now, sports a 20MPX Pure View camera.

The Apple Pencil is awesome. It is very precise and handy. I like how you can charge it by plugging it into the iPad, just in case you run out of battery on the go. What I also like is the fact that it turns off after a while and automatically turns on again when you simply pick it up. That is neat! Anyway, there are also two things that I dislike. The battery only lasts about 10 hours (at least that is what apple claims). I cannot say that it lasts longer or shorter, but I can say that I see the battery draining. That sucks. Another thing I noticed is that when Bluetooth is turned off on the iPad, be it via flight mode or manually, to reconnect the Apple Pencil it is needed to plug it into the iPad for three seconds. Just turning Bluetooth on again will not do the thing. That is just stupid.

Inking works well!
Inking works well!
...and drawing looks good too. Well, if I had talent...
…and drawing looks good too. Well, if I had talent…

The first usage

Now let us face it. IOS, even macOS and Windows are very different. So the worklflow is very different too. The way I did things on Windows will not get me anywhere on the iPad, but I think everyone who considers switching to an iPad or even Mac knows that. A good example is actually Microsoft Office. Of course that is the software that I use on the iPad, there is no office software better than that. The way things work is just very different. On Windows I was able to create complex tables directly in Word. On the iPad I can only do the basics. For creating complex tables I need to go into Excel, create it, and then copy it into Word. Thanks to the way iOS works with its shortcuts and gestures, I do not think that this is a more complicated or worse way by any means. It is just very different and it takes some time to get used to it.

That is how you can use your iPad with gestures and keyboard shortcuts. Well, some of them, since there are a lot more that I don’t know about yet.

This video was captured on an iPhone 6s Plus and edited only on the iPad Pro. I used the standard video editor to cut the videos. Then I added them into iMovie which came pre installed, removed their soundtrack and spoke into the microphone of the iPad to add a new one. I have never done anything like this before and I am really not good at it. After all, I did not even have a tripod for my phone so I just tried to hold it as steadily as possible. However, what, besides the gestures and shortcuts of course, the video also shows, is that the iPad is perfectly capable of cutting, editing and rendering 4K footage. The available features will also be enough for the average user. And last but not least, the iPad lost only about 10 percent of battery during approx. 1h of work on that 4K material. Seems to be efficient!

Using a computer without a mouse is also very weird at first. But after using iOS for a while and seeing how easy it is, I got used to it very quickly. Here and there I still need some learning. I mean hey, I own the iPad for three days only. For example I still need to learn a lot of keyboard shortcuts, but progress is there.

Keyboard shortcuts help make things easier.
Keyboard shortcuts help make things easier.

One thing that caught my attention right away was how well the iPad works with my iPhone. After configuring my new tablet I immediately had all my settings and files on my iPad. Contacts, accounts (even with passwords), app data. Basically everything. And if I start something like typing an email on my tablet I can resume doing that on my phone (or vice versa) with just the press of a button. The way my two iDevices communicate is simply awesome.

One more thing that I did not consider before: consuming stuff. To be honest, this was not even something I remotely found important when I looked for a new computer for university, but it is certainly very nice to have. Thanks to all the apps on iOS and the compact measures of the iPad (screen size, thickness, weight), the tablet is great for consuming. Be it movies or games, or even music (it has very nice speakers!), the iPad does a better job than any Windows device out there. Expect the gaming part of corse, but I am talking about tablets and notebooks, not gaming PCs. Still, this is not that much of an important point that I would keep the iPad solely for this, even after I find out that it doesn’t fill my productivity needs.

That is it for now. The experiment will go for about two weeks. After that I will decide whether the iPad fills my needs or not, and of course I will let you know.