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Anthony Capstick

Business, technology and broadband issues.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Oakley Thump Review - MP3 Sunglasses (Podcast)
I heard from the office that my Thumps had arrived whilst camping in south Brittany, and took them out of the box excitedly as soon as I got back.

Photograph by Lewis Counsell

The first thing that stuck me was how light they are, and how discrete the earpieces. I was expecting something more bulky - and its obvious that a great deal of thought has gone into the design. The actual MP3 player bit has been built into the arms of the glasses, so all that looks different about them are the ear pieces that come down off the arm.

So far I've been mountain biking, road biking running, walking and lawn mowing with them on and they're brilliant. Much more comfortable than my Ipod, as the mini earpieces are more like minute speakers that hover over the ear. With the Ipod, the earpieces are actually shoved inside the ear, because they have to hold up the wire that goes to the player. With the Thumps the earpiece hovers outside, meaning you can also hear ambient sounds - like cars coming from behind. Ask any runner - an import feature!

The glasses themselves are up to Oakley's usual high standard, and I'd wear them without the MP3 player. The only geeky bit is a feature that allows the lens to be lifted away from the frame by means of a hinge at the top - idea for that Saga cruise you've been looking forward to.

I've been listening to MP3 podcasts, and having an easily transferable music section adds to their appeal. The connector is a standard digital camera/USB port which is handy, plus you could use them as a memory stick if you really wanted to.

The only minor irk is the buttons have few features - like fast forward whilst listening to music. With podcasts I tend to want to rewind, and its difficult to do that with the glasses. Also the volume could do to be a bit louder - they lost the noise battle with my lawnmower!

Thumps are seriously good - a great piece of design and technology in action. They do what they say in a stylish way, and for me I think they will be collectors items in the future. As technology gets smaller and smaller, MP3 players will become standard issues on lots of things, but particularly specs. Nice one Oakley - keep 'em coming.
Photograph by Lewis Counsell


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