Pixel Buds review: OK Google, go back to the earbud drawing board

Enlarge (credit: Sam Machkovech)

Find me a critic who would recommend any company's first-ever earbuds priced at $159, and I will find you that critic's sordid history of wire-transfer scams on Craigslist. Headphones and earbuds have to cater to so many tricky, subjective variables: various ear fits, sound preferences, and desired features. Nobody gets that right the first time, and even for longtime companies, one fan's treasure is another audiophile's trash.

Google isn't the company to buck this trend. Its Pixel Buds arrive as an admittedly ambitious entry to the sector, with promises of pristine sound quality and Google Assistant-fueled superpowers. And as Google's first-ever entry to the earbud world, they're not all that terrible. Some of their features range from compelling to downright cool.

But between this price point, inconsistent sound quality, underwhelming voice-assistant features, and glaring use issues, I have to wonder how long Google actually weighed and tested what it was about to launch, as opposed to rushing its own answer to Apple's AirPods.

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