Are Colemak or Dvorak Worth It?

Mechanical keyboard with Colemak layout next to keyboard with QWERTY layout.

QWERTY, the common keyboard layout that everyone is used to. If you have grown an interest in keyboards then you may have heard about some other keyboard layouts such as Colemak or Dvorak.

Using any of these alternative keyboard layouts has a variety of upsides but is switching to something like Colemak, Dvorak, or any other layout worth taking the time and the struggle to rewrite your muscle memory?

Using an alternative layout can provide many benefits. By switching you could notice an increase in typing efficiency, comfort, and ergonomics. The time that it takes to switch can be especially beneficial if you spend a lot of time at a computer.

Today I will answer the question if alternative keyboard layouts are indeed worth it and add in a bit of my own personal experience trying one of these different keyboard layouts.

The History of QWERTY

When typewriters were created, the people designing them realized a problem. Typewriters would jam if the keys were in alphabetical order. The designer of the QWERTY layout, Christopher Sholes fixed this problem by splitting commonly used letter pairings, for example, ‘S’ and ‘T’.

This layout became the new standard and even as computers started to become popular, nobody questioned the layout that was in place. Everyone was already used to the layout and it wasn’t causing enough problems to make large corporations change their designs.

Some people tried different designed different keyboards but they never caught any traction.

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Colemak, Dvorak, etc.

Picture of the Colemak Layout for keyboards.
Colemak Layout

Although different variations of QWERTY were created for different languages like French or German, those edited layouts were still relatively the same.

Next comes the most popular alternative layouts being Dvorak, Colemak, and then Workman. There are many other layouts besides these three but these layouts have the biggest communities and are significantly more popular than many of the other layouts out there.

All three of these layouts were created to be more efficient, ergonomic, and comfortable to type on than QWERTY. Many people switch to these layouts for these benefits and can especially appreciate the comfort over the long term. Additionally, because these layouts are more efficient they should make it easier to type faster for longer. This isn’t necessarily true because most of the fastest typers still use QWERTY.

The Dvorak and Colemak were designed to make your fingers use the home row as much as possible and as a result, this means that your fingers do not need to dance around the keyboard as much. Workman takes a different approach as it works to balance the amount of use between both of your hands.

The goal of these layouts is to make your fingers only move as much as they need to and to minimize the time of travel from one keycap to the next. Theoretically using any of these layouts should be faster than typing on QWERTY with the same amount of experience but it is difficult to truly test this.

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Is It Worth It To Switch?

Making the decision to switch from QWERTY entirely depends on you and your situation. For most people, you may find that you have no problems with typing and you see no need to make any changes. Others may be enticed by the improved efficiency and comfort. Trying out a different layout also makes for an interesting test.

Switching to something like Colemak could improve long-term comfort throughout the day and could help with faster-sustained typing speeds. This benefit could be worth it for those who spend a lot of time at a computer or typing but for the everyday person who only uses a computer for basic internet browsing, emails, or gaming changing will not be very beneficial.

All in all, you should do what is most comfortable for you and those who use their computers a lot will see the benefits over the long term.

Which One Is Right For You?

Dvorak, Colemak, and Workman all have the same objectives but some differentiating factors may help your decision.

Dvorak is often considered to be the most efficient of these layouts. Also because Dvorak is the most popular alternative to QWERTY it has built-in support in major operating systems like Windows and macOS.

With Colemak and Workman, you may still need to download them. If you use Windows for example you will need to download Colemak here and Workman here on their respective pages.

Colemak functions similarly to Dvorak by focusing on home row usage but is arguably the easiest to learn out of the three. Colemak is the most similar to QWERTY with a bottom row that is almost exactly the same. Additionally Colemak is great if you use functions like Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. While Dvorak and Workman support these functions, the keys will be in different places and may feel less natural.

Finally, Workman focuses on evening usage by both hands. Workman fixes problems that even Colemak and Dvorak have of placing commonly used keys close together. Workman sacrifices a bit on efficiency to maximize comfort.

Ultimately all these layouts are good and there isn’t really a wrong decision.

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What Do I Use?

In December of 2020, I decided to try using Colemak and I eventually made it my primary layout a few months later. Since then I have still continued to use QWERTY in some situations and I have experience using both layouts on all types of keyboards.

So why did I decide Colemak? Well, Colemak does provide some unique benefits over Workman and Dvorak. While all these layouts are more efficient and comfortable to use than QWERTY, Colemak keeps key functionality. With Colemak you are able to keep macros like Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste in the same place on your keyboard.

Additionally Colemak is most similar to QWERTY out of the three while still providing noticeable improvements. While switching to Colemak was difficult initially, I am very happy with my choice and it is a great option for those who use layered functions on their keyboards or want something that is a bit easier to transition to.

Transitioning

Typing test picture from monkey type with typing speed of 91 WPM.
Typing test on monkeytype

The biggest issue about switching your layout is the time and difficulty to transition. I found that transitioning personally was very difficult for the first month or two so I only used Colemak during typing tests and times when I could type slower.

If you aren’t someone with much free time and are completely fine using QWERTY then there isn’t a very important need to switch. Otherwise trying out a new layout can not only be a fun test but you may actually find that you prefer it over QWERTY.

In my experience, I was able to switch to Colemak as my main layout after about three months but it took a bit more time to reach my previous typing speed.

The transition may take longer or shorter depending on how much you are willing to spend learning the layout and practicing. While learning the layout you may also not like the fact that the keys on your keyboard will not match your new layout. If you use a mechanical keyboard there are some keycap sets that you can buy that support Dvorak, Colemak, Workman, and a few other alternative layouts if this is a deal-breaker for you though.

Learning the layout without being able look at your keyboard is actually a good habit to start because you will learn touch typing and will be able to type faster in the long run.

End Result

A typing test on monkeytype being taken.

After taking time to transition you will continue to build up muscle memory and confidence. Typing with the new layout will be totally normal and you may even be able to type with the layout without ever needing to look at your keyboard.

After about 6 months I was able to match my old typing speed with QWERTY (120-140WPM). I was able to type faster, for longer too, as my fingers would not get tired as quickly.

This actually more efficient because you are able to type faster for longer. I also noticed that using Colemak all day led me to know problems but using QWERTY all day would leave me typing a lot slower later in the day and some people may experience fatigue too.

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Conclusion

Mechanical keyboard with the Colemak layout.

Although it isn’t a must, switching to a new keyboard layout can have many benefits. While the change was not life-changing for me it has still allowed me to type faster for longer periods and has improved comfort over the day.

Trying out a new layout like Colemak or Dvorak can be a very interesting test and you may find that you like it for QWERTY. For those who are interested in keyboards or spend a lot of time typing, trying one out could definitely benefit you. Otherwise, for those who mostly game, check emails, or browse the web the QWERTY layout works perfectly fine, and transitioning may not be worth it.

I have never felt the need to go back to QWERTY and even when I needed to go back to it at times when using different keyboards or computers, I found that I noticed a lot more flaws in the layout than before using Colemak.

I hope this article was beneficial to you and if you want to see more keyboard content, check out our keyboard page. As always thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Logitech MX Master 3 Review: Make Your Workflow Efficient

The Logitech MX Master 3 is a productivity mouse that is packed with features. The MX Master 3 comes with all the essentials that you will want like wireless connectivity along with other features that can optimize your workflow.

Let’s take a close look at the MX Master 3 and decide if Logitech’s third iteration is the right one for you.

The Verdict

Angled view of the Logitech MX Master 3

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Logitech’s MX Master 3 is a productivity mouse, packed with many features making it a great option for productivity and creative work. Its various features could improve the efficiency of your workflow.

The MX Master 3 packs great performance with a high-quality sensor and a fantastic build. It delivers innovative features such as a horizontal scroll wheel, the MagSpeed scroll wheel, app presets, and much more to help you get more done, faster.

Things like the in-depth software help you get much more out of the mouse. Wireless connectivity, a USB-C port, and fast charging provide a nice user experience too.

Unless you are on a budget or game the majority of the time this mouse is a great option, especially if you do creative work. Its price is a bit hefty at around the $100 mark but it definitely is worth it.

If you think the MX Master 3 is for you, check it out on Amazon.


In The Box

Unboxing of the Logitech MX Master 3

Inside the box, Logitech gives you everything that you need to use the mouse.

  • Cable: You get a high-quality rubber USB-A to USB-C cable. It supports fast charging and also allows you to use the mouse wired.
  • Wireless Dongle: The mouse does support Bluetooth but if you want a more stable connection that is also a bit faster, Logitech gives you a 2.4ghz dongle that is plug and play.
  • Paperwork: There is some paperwork inside the box but all the useful instructions are on Logitech’s product page.
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Build Quality

Front view of the Logitech MX Master 3

The MX Master 3 has fantastic build quality.

The mouse is definitely one of the heaviest mice I have used at 141g. Although the weight may not be ideal for gaming, it feels quite hefty and it is not an issue because this mouse is not designed for gaming.

The MX Master is made of plastic, rubber, and metal. The core build is made from sturdy plastic with metal scroll wheels, and rubber where your palm and thumb rest.

The scroll wheels have no wobble and provide a texturized grip. The main scroll wheel has sharp, tactile steps while the secondary wheel is buttery smooth. All the buttons on the MX Master feel snappy and sound quite good. Omron switches are used for peak reliability, especially in the long term.

You can find the mouse in both a graphite gray color and a black color too. The cable is a dark gray for both versions.

Overall, the MX Master 3 has a nice feel and the materials used give you confidence in the product.

Shape and Comfort

Side view of the Logitech MX Master 3

The MX Master 3 has an ergonomic shape. It fits the mold of your hand and the buttons are perfectly in reach. This makes the mouse very comfortable to hold, especially for long periods.

Besides the 2 main buttons, the buttons that you will be pressing the most are all controlled with your thumb which maintains the user’s comfort.

If you use a palm grip with your mice then this mouse will be fantastic for you. Using the mouse with other grips is possible but it is not nearly as comfortable. The mouse is fairly large but if you have small or big hands then this mouse will be comfortable for you so that is not a concern.

On top of the ergonomic design, the fact that they use rubber where the pam and thumb rest makes the mouse a lot more comfortable.

Overall this is one of the best mice that I have ever used for comfort and it is obvious that Logitech put a lot of work into the design of this mouse. The MX Master 3 is comfortable and does not look out of place compared to other ergonomic mice.

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Buttons and Scroll Wheels

On the MX Master 3, you get physical buttons. All have a solid, tactile feel with a pleasant sound. All these buttons can be remapped.

Along with the buttons, you get aluminum scroll wheels. Both have a texture to them to make them easier to find.

MagSpeed Wheel

The main scroll wheel supports a very unique feature that is one of the main changes from the previous from previous versions of the mouse. It functions similarly to Logitech’s Hyperscroll.

You can scroll through 1000 lines of code or over 100 pages in a PDF in just a second. This makes this mouse very useful when scrolling between different parts of a project. I also found it very useful in daily tasks like scrolling back to the top of a news article or quickly scrolling to a different part of a music playlist.

Initially, the scroll wheel will function like a regular mouse wheel with tactile steps. As you try to spin the scroll wheel faster, it will automatically move into a freespin mode. In this mode, the wheel will glide smoothly and quietly.

This system uniquely utilizes electromagnets. The wheel is electronically powered, allowing the user to have more accuracy and control.

Horizontal Scroll Wheel

One of the most unique features about the MX Master is its second scroll wheel that is horizontal.

Most mice only have a vertical scroll wheel to move up and down but with a horizontal scroll wheel, you can maneuver from side to side.

Logitech supports many app presets that make the horizontal wheel have different functions. In editing apps you can use the wheel to scroll through a timeline, drawing apps will change the size of the brush, and in zoom or teams, it will change the volume.

A horizontal wheel is a great way to improve the speed and efficiency of your workflow.

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The Sensor and Buttons

Logitech’s MX Master 3 uses their Darkfield laser sensor. Logitech is renowned for making some of the best performing sensors and the Darkfield is no different.

The Darkfield laser sensor can track on almost any surface, including glass. This means that you don’t need a mousepad for good accuracy.

This sensor goes up to 4,000 DPI, which can be adjusted through the software. This sensor may not be suitable for gaming but from my testing, it performed quite well.

Wireless Connectivity

Logitech MX Master 3 mouse next to wireless dongle

In addition to a wired connection, you can also connect the MX Master 3 either with a 2.4ghz USB dongle or via Bluetooth.

The dongle will have less latency than Bluetooth and it is plug and play. If you wish to use the mouse with multiple devices then Bluetooth will be needed though.

You can connect to up to 3 devices via Bluetooth and then 1 with the dongle. This great if you want to use the mouse with multiple devices and it enables the Logitech Flow feature to work.

To change between the devices there is a button on the bottom of the mouse that you can press to change between any of the three devices.

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Battery Life and Quick Charge

The battery one of the best things about this mouse. It lasts for up to 70 days, supports fast charging, and has battery-saving measures.

I rarely need to charge the mouse and when it reaches low battery the light on the side of the mouse will light up red. That means that I need to plug it in at the end of the day and then I will have battery for another 2-3 months.

After owning the mouse for almost 6 months I have only needed to charge it twice.

If you are out of charge, a single minute will give you a couple hours of use and 3 minutes can get you through the day.

When you stop using the mouse it will go into a power-saving mode but will automatically wake up when you need to use it again.

In-depth Logitech Options Software

The MX Master 3 is supported by the Logitech Options software. It gives you a lot of in-depth control over different parts of the mouse so you can be more productive and efficient with your workflow.

You have control over basic things like changing the mouse sensitivity, checking mouse battery, remapping buttons, and much more.

You can also control more specific things like gestures or control button mappings for specific apps.

App Specific Presets

You have the option to enable or disable different preset options for some popular apps with the MX Master 3. These presets can also be edited. This allows the buttons on your mouse to have specific functions only in specific apps.

There are presets for Microsoft Teams, Zoom, the Microsoft Office Suite, the Adobe Suite, different web browsers, and more.

For example, in Microsoft Word, the horizontal wheel will be used to zoom in and the side buttons are used for undo and redo.

Gestures

Where you rest your thumb there is a gesture button. In total, you can make up to 5 gestures.

You enact these gestures by either pressing down the button or pressing down the button and then moving the mouse up, down, left, or right. With each of these movements, you can apply custom presets to execute functions more quickly.

One very useful gesture is after pressing the gesture button you can move the mouse left or right to skip or go back to a previous song.

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Logitech Flow

Logitech Flow is arguably one of the coolest features of this mouse.

Logitech Flow is unique because it allows you to use one mouse with multiple systems easily. You can work on two devices at once or you can even transfer files between the two systems.

For this to function, you need to connect to devices via Bluetooth connectivity on this mouse, and then connect to the computers in your network. This allows you to use multiple systems and even transfer files between them over the air.

The ability to transfer files quickly and easily between two systems can be very helpful. This removes the need for a flash drive and the process is also much faster.


Conclusion: Is It A Good Workstation Mouse?

Angled view of Logitech MX Master 3

Logitech’s MX Master 3 is a great mouse. It delivers tons of features, has a comfortable design, and gives you functionality for some of the most popular professional apps.

The MX Master 3 may not be the best mouse for gaming but if you do creative work or you are a power user then this mouse will give you a lot more functionality at your fingertips than most mice.

If price isn’t a factor this is probably the best mouse you can get for productivity. Overall it is a fantastic workhorse mouse and you can’t go wrong with it.

So if you think that you will benefit from the MX Master 3, check it out on Amazon for around 100 dollars at the time of writing.

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Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Review: ANC, Bluetooth, Style

The Surface Headphones 2 are a pair of headphones for enjoying music especially while on the go.

Microsoft positions the pair in a highly competitive market of Bluetooth, ANC headphones with an interesting twist on having a more unique interface and look.

Let’s dive in and take a look and see how they compete.

Angled view of Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

The Verdict

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you want an excellent pair of headphones that has Bluetooth, ANC, and a solid build, the Microsoft Surface Headphones are a great option to consider. They are a great option for music listening at home or on the go.

If you want everything that the top Bluetooth headphones deliver at a slightly cheaper price this is a great option. Microsoft’s Surface Headphones 2 are still very competitive but have a better value over some of the more expensive offerings on the market.

The Surface Headphones 2 are often compared to more expensive options like Sony’s XM4s or Bose NC700s. Although the Surface Headphones are 100 or more dollars less expensive, they compete very closely with these options and are often compared to both.

The build is strong along with a comfortable design that makes these a great option no matter where you are. You can use them throughout the day. Along with this, you get similar sound quality as other premium Bluetooth headphones.

The interface is one of the most unique things about this pair and the inclusion of dials makes interacting with the device very easy while still having a lot of functionality.

Additionally, there is support from many other features like a carrying case, software support, fast charging, ANC, and ambient sound.

If your main priority is having the best sound quality then there are other options to consider but for a Bluetooth pair, this is excellent.

You can find the Surface Headphones 2 on Amazon for a great price.


In The Box

Unboxing of Surface Headphones 2

Everything is packaged very nicely. In the box you will find the headphones and some accessories.

  • Carrying Case: A carrying case holds almost everything that you will need to use the headphones, including the pair themselves. It is a well-made, hard case with fabric.
  • Headphones: Inside the carrying case are the headphones with some protective paper that you can peel off.
  • USB-A to USB-C: You get a rubberized cable for fast charging the device at 4.1ft (1.5m) .
  • 3.5mm to 3.5mm adapter: If you want to use the pair wired, you get a 3.1 ft (1.2m) long cable.
  • Instructions: In the case, by the cables, you will find the instructions on how to use the buttons and gestures.
  • Manual: You will also get a manual that covers everything that you may need to know like contacts and support.
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Technical Details

  • Drivers: 40mm Dynamic Drivers
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Sensitivity (Sound output): 115dB with cable or Bluetooth
  • Noise cancellation: Up to 30dB for active, up to 40dB for passive
  • Inputs: USB-C, 3.5mm
  • Weight: 0.64lbs (290g)

The Build

Top view of Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

The build of the Surface Headphones is quite good. You have good use of aluminum, plastic, fabric, and pleather. Plastic is used for most of the design with aluminum for the frame. You can also see aluminum connecting the earcups to the headband. The earcups and top of the headband use pleather with fabric inside the earcups.

I have accidentally dropped the pair and they have been fine. Through regular use, you should have no issues. You get the standard build with other headphones premium ANC headphones.

There is no sweat rating on the Surface Headphones but I had no issues with regular use or exercise. I wouldn’t want to risk anything with more premium headphones but I have taken the pair on runs and to the gym and had zero problems. They are fine from my testing but there is no official rating to back it up. I would also not recommend using the pair in the rain as there is a high risk of damage.

After using the pair for about a year, there are some sweat stains on the inside but it is nothing too bad and there is no effect on the performance of the device.

To back up the build of the device is a 1 year warranty.

The pair feels well build and nice to the touch. I have no complaints.

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Style and Comfort

You have two color options with the Surface Headphones 2. You can get a matte black or a light gray. Both look quite nice and are resistant to scratches and other cosmetic issues.

There Microsoft logo is on the lower part of the headband on both sides. It is a reflective material that is consistent with the logos on the other Surface line’s products. Overall this style looks quite nice, especially if you own other Surface products.

The comfort of the Surface Headphones 2 is pretty good and it is among the best for Bluetooth headphones. There is a decent amount of cushioning on both the headband and earcups so there are never pressure points. I only found that there would be too much pressure if you are using the headphones for extended periods of time of two or more hours.

Using glasses with this pair is not as good as some other headphones that I have tried but it is pretty good.

Although there isn’t too much pressure, the Surface Headphones stay on your head really well even if you are running or jumping. The Surface headphones are a decent option for working out but they don’t support any official sweat rating so use them at your own risk. I have not had any issues with my pair and I have had them since they came out, using them for everything from working to going to the gym.

The earpads use of pleather makes them very comfortable but if your ears get hot easily then you could run to comfort issues. My ears get hot no matter what headphones I use. With the Surface Headphones, my ears get uncomfortably hot after about 45 minutes of usage. For most people, you could probably use the pair for upwards of two hours.

Another potential issue you may encounter with the Surface Headphones is that your ears may touch the drivers. The material on the inside is some sort of soft fabric so it doesn’t get uncomfortable.

Most people will not have an issue with the size of these headphones unless you have a very small head. Most small heads will fit well but children may encounter problems.

The headphones are quite light at 290g or 0.64lbs. This helps them not feel heavy on your head even after long periods of time. The low weight also makes the headphones very portable.

Sound Quality

Frequency Response of Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Frequency Response Results From Sonarworks

The Surface Headphones have a more “appealing” and “fun” sound signature that is mainstream among Bluetooth headphones. There is more of a V curve meaning there is more of a boost in bass and some of the vocals.

The bass hits quite nicely and vocals don’t sound harsh but unfortunately, the mid-range controlling most instruments is a bit recessed.

Although these headphones have the same sound profile as many consumer headphones there are some other factors considered like the clarity of the sound and separation between different sounds.

I would say that you get what you pay for. The sound quality is better than most of the cheaper offerings and even options at the same price range. The quality is quite good but not as good as maybe the Sony XM4s, although they are more expensive.

I noticed that the quality of the sound was the same between wired and Bluetooth. This is also due to the fact that most audio platforms, like Spotify or Apple music, only playback audio at a quality of 320kbps. The amount of information in the music would have to be much different to notice much of a difference between wired and wireless.

Overall the sound is quite good and unless you are used to very premium headphones or audiophile quality pairs the sound is amazing for most. The only issues I felt were that the mid-range instruments were not as present as I hoped and although there is quite a lot of bass and it is able to hit hard, it was not necessarily always clean. This is common among popular noise-canceling headphones.

That being said, this is a deep-level analysis from someone who has tried more premium sounding headphones so the sound signature and quality will be great for most people in the market for Bluetooth headphones.

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The Interface

One of the most unique aspects of the Surface Headphones is the interface. Most high-end Bluetooth headphones will support gestures to skip songs or change the volume but Microsoft takes it a step further.

Microsoft uses two dials, two buttons, and both earcups are touch capacitive.

One button is used to turn on and off the device and the other button is used to activate either Cortana or your device’s virtual assistant. This makes communication with Google Assistant or Siri very easy, even if you don’t have your phone is in another room.

The controls on the earcups allow you to skip or go back to a track as well as pause and play. It doesn’t matter which earcup you use because the controls work on both.

Finally, arguably the most unique thing about the Surface Headphones, the dials. These dials are smooth and continuous. On the edge of the earcups are two dials. The left one controls the level of ANC as the dial on the right controls the volume.

The control that is given to you from the dials makes the Surface Headphones very easy to use and the interface is one of the best on any headphone. It is very easy to use and you have a lot of functionality without needing your phone.

Software

Software for Surface Headphones 2

Software is always a great thing to go alongside a pair of headphones. With the Surface Headphones, Microsoft has their Surface Audio app both on the PC and phone.

The software allows you to monitor important things like battery or volume and gives you access to in-depth functionality.

With the software you can change the name, edit EQs, change language, and update the device.

Over the air updates can improve things like battery life and even sound quality.

Cortana and Voice Assistants

One interesting feature of the Surface Headphones is the inclusion of a voice assistant, Cortana. You can use Cortana to do things like read emails to you or interact with any Microsoft app.

Ultimately I don’t find Cortana to be useful but you can still use the headphones with the virtual assistant of your device. To interact with the assistant of your device, simply long-press the side of either earcup.

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Connectivity

The Surface Headphones support the industry standard Bluetooth 5.0.

I was able to go about 100 feet (30.5 meters) away from my computer or phone with obstacles in the way before the audio started to cut out. Without walls or other obstacles, you can probably be over 200 feet (61 meters) away from your device without it cutting out.

You could leave your device and walk anywhere around most apartments and even many homes without the audio cutting out. At the gym, you could potentially leave your phone in a locker if it is close enough to you.

Pairing the device is also easy. Simply press the power button and then press again and hold for about five seconds until you hear, “You’re ready to pair”. Whenever you turn on the device it will automatically connect to paired devices.

You can pair with multiple devices for seamless switching from a phone and computer with audio plays from a different device.

Overall this is standard Bluetooth performance with options from the likes of Sony and Bose but it is still quite good and works with few issues.

You can also use the Surface Headphones wired if you want via the 3.5mm cable.

Battery and Charging

The battery and charging are not as good as some of the industry leaders but the performance is still quite good, especially for the price.

Microsoft’s Surface headphones can charge to 100% in under two hours and get an hour of playtime after 5 minutes of charging. Sony has a charging speed with their XM3s of five hours in just 10 minutes.

As for the battery, you can get about 20 hours of music playback while using Bluetooth and ANC. I found that this was enough to last me over a week with two to three hours of daily usage. While using them at work, they can last me a few days if using them for the majority of the day.

Microphone

Close up of earcup for surface headphones 2

In order to have noise cancellation, the headphones need multiple mics. As a result, the Surface Headphones have a better mic than most headphones I have tried and on par with more premium Bluetooth Headphones.

They are better than the mics of AirPods but still worse than a dedicated microphone.

The sound is good enough for calling but I would not recommend using Surface Headphones for any recording.

ANC and Ambient Sound

One of the defining features of the Surface Headphones is ANC or active noise cancellation alongside an ambient sound mode.

In total, you have 13 levels of ANC adjustment from amplified ambient sound to full noise cancellation.

The ANC performance is not the best but it can block out the surroundings while in a bus and remove a lot of the sound of a plane or vacuum. It is pretty good and definitely one of the best options but still trails the likes of Bose and Sony with their flagships.

As for the ambient sound, it is quite clean sounding. It sounds as if you were hearing all the sounds around you with your own ears.

There is an amplified ambient sound mode. This makes everything louder than it actually is. I found it very useful to listen to people talking to me from another room and it helps you to hear your surroundings while still listening to music.

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Alternatives

Many of the alternatives to the Surface Headphones are at higher price points but they are still able to compete in many areas.

Sony XM4

The Sony WH-1000XM4s is arguably one of the best headphones in this category of Bluetooth, ANC headphones. Compared to the Surface Headphones 2 they can’t compete with the dials and the build is very similar. They both share many features like being able to connect to different devices, fast charging, and more.

The XM4s do perform better in multiple fields though. Sound, ANC, and Battery are all a bit better with the Sonys. The performance is not huge but the XM4s deliver some of the best performance in these fields for Bluetooth headphones. You get 30 hours of battery life, a cleaner sound, and arguably the best ANC in any headphones.

It is important to mention that the XM4s are often $100 more than the Surface Headphones 2 and understanding if spending the extra money is worth it is essential to understanding which one is best for you.

Bose NC 700

The Bose NC 700s are another fantastic option that is positioned often at a higher price point than even the XM4s. They deliver a minimalistic look, a similar design concept to the clean look of the Surface Headphones.

They have similar build quality, comfort, Bluetooth performance, and battery life. Where the Bose NC 700s pull ahead is in cleaner sound and some of the best ANC. The ANC is better at blocking out consistent sounds like an airplane and sudden sounds like a door closing.

Again the Bose NC700s are also, usually, over $100 more than the Surface Headphones 2. They may have less value but then looks, and improved ANC and sound quality may make it worth it for them.


Conclusion

Angled view of surface headphones 2 on a desk

Competing with the best Bluetooth headphones, the Surface Headphones 2 delivers great value and performance competing heavily with the top options.

They are a great option to use both while you work and while you work out and they can get you through the day with long battery life. Microsoft delivers on giving a solid build with great sound quality and ANC.

All this is supported by the abundance of other features like fast charging, a carrying case, software support, and the interface with dials. The interface itself makes the headphones such a great option along with everything else.

The Surface Headphones 2 are well rounded and will deliver everything most people need at a price that is cheaper than its competitors

If you think these are a great option for you, then check out the Surface Headphones 2 on Amazon.

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