When I first saw the Oakley Thump sunglasses a couple years ago with built-in MP3 player, I thought they were silly, expensive, and ugly to boot. Then I used them, because, well, you know, it’s my job.
I wore ’em first when I was cleaning the garage, where no one could see me. Then I tried them out on a trail run. And then on a mountain bike ride. By the time I’d burned the battery down once, I was so completely hooked on the joys of exercising with music wirelessly that I couldn’t imagine going without the Thumps. They were so cool, they even started to look cool.
Now there’s a new model, the Oakley Split Thump, which looks less sporty than the original Thumps and comes with removable ear buds.
As the first crunchy licks of the Raconteurs new disk, Consolers of the Lonely, came pumping out of the Splits, I had to laugh at the contrast between first impression and final conclusion: These things are the bomb. Yes, they’re still expensive ($399 for 2GB, $299 for 1GB, $249 for 512MB). And no, they aren’t particularly my style. But their simplicity of use and of lack of wires have made them an indispensable part of my kit.
All you do is connect the glasses to your Mac or PC with a USB cord (which also charges the glasses). No driver or software is needed: The Thumps appear as an external hard drive and you just drag your music files onto them. That’s it. Volume controls are on the left temple piece, power and song selection the right.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
As with the iPod Shuffle, there’s no screen, so you’re at the mercy of the playlist mix, but so what? It’s easy to skip songs (or use other controls) when running or even when riding with a full-finger bike glove.
The best feature by far, though, is that you’re rolling wireless: no bouncing cord, no ear buds ripped out by accident, one less thing to stash on your way to the trail. The Thumps also have a deeper, more bass-heavy sound than iPod ear buds. With three hinges, their buds are almost infinitely adjustable to your ears. It’s also a piece of cake to flip one up and out of the way, so you can carry a conversation or listen for traffic.
So, which to get? The Splits look like a normal, albeit bold sunglass (and function as such when you take the ear buds off), but can fog if you’re running with them on a hot day; the original Thumps are much better for exercising, but you can’t remove the ear buds. Tough choice, but either way it’s money well-spent.