If you’ve been to as many CES as I have, you know to expect the unexpected. But even I wasn’t expecting this –– at least, not from this company. For CES 2021, HP is stepping into the wireless earbuds arena with the Elite Wireless Earbuds. The first earbuds coming from the company, the Elite are targeting consumers who spend a lot of time on conference calls –– which at this point, is quite a lot of us.
- Best wireless earbuds
- Best wireless headphones
The Elite Wireless Earbuds aren’t really for stylin’ and profilin’ on the street. They’re for paying rapt attention during your 10:15am meeting. As such, the earbuds are relatively understated with the casing primarily of a black matte casing with a semi-glossy HP adorning the earcaps which matches the charging case’s aesthetics.
The earbuds measure 0.7 x 0.5 inches and weigh 2.3 ounces which is smaller than the AirPods Pro (1.2 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches, 0.2 ounces) and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 1.5 x 1 x 1.1 inches, 0.3 ounces). Unfortunately, we don’t have measurements for the charging case, but it’s rather large. It’s taller than the QuietComfort’s case which is pretty big. Along the rear right of the case you’ll find the USB Type-C port.
When it launches, the Elite will have an accompanying app for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows. From there, you’ll have the ability to run a test that will calibrate the earbuds to the shape of your individual ear canals. You’ll also have the ability to switch between presets based on your location (office, home or the gym). This function can also be accessed by tapping the earbuds.
Speaking of switching, the earbuds make use of Microsoft Swift Pair which will allow the buds to instantaneously switch between devices.
I’ve yet to test the audio on the earbuds with their 9.3mm neodymium drivers, but I’m very curious to take these for a spin since they’re tuned with video conferencing in mind. What happens when I decide to watch a movie or listen to Tidal or Spotify? Another unknown is the active noise cancellation. Since these are made with video conferencing in mind, the ANC has to be on point to combat the ambient noise in a home office.
So far in my remote meetings, I’ve watched my fellow participants battle with barking dogs, purring kitties, playful kids and nearby trains. Does HP have the chops to shut all of this ambient noise out? I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
HP has yet to divulge the battery life on the Elite Wireless Earbuds, but if they want to stand a chance against the competition they’ll have to last at least six hours. And the charging case will have to provide at least 3 additional charges.
The HP Elite Wireless Earbuds are a bold step for HP. Sure, they make gaming headsets, but a pair of wireless earbuds are a bit out of left field for them. But with the enhanced focus on video conferencing, I definitely identify with the use case. The question is how will HP, a company not really known for audio fare in this highly competitive field. Either way, I can wait to give these unexpected buds a listen.