Oakley has announced their latest redesign of their popular Thump series of MP3 player sunglasses. The new design, called the Split Thump, will be out for the holidays in both black and white, offered at 512MB ($249), 1GB ($299), and 2GB ($399) capacities. Aside from a new, more understated look, the Split Thumps now allow you to remove the included earpieces for those times when you just want to wear a normal looking pair of sunglasses.
Of course, I can already tell that the new detachable design will be the Split Thump's biggest drawback as well, since it makes it all too easy to lose the earpieces. Still, it's a small price to pay for having a single pair of respectable-looking sunglasses that can transform into a cord-free MP3 player. Historically, the Oakley Thumps have been a great solution for active, style-conscious, outdoorsy types who need a simple way to break away from messy headphone cables.
Like previous versions of the Oakley Thumps, the Split includes a discreetly located mini-USB jack for loading unprotected MP3 and WMA files from your computer. Each side of the glasses features a metallic rocker switch for adjusting volume (left side), and play/pause/skip (right side). No word on battery life, but there is a three-color LED light on the inside of the glasses that indicates when the battery level is low.
While we're usually pretty quick to write off wearable MP3 player convergence devices such as MP3 player shoes, the Split Thumps (despite their vaguely offensive name) actually look pretty useful--especially for snowboarding. The key to the Thumps viability really rests in the quality of the earpieces, which we have yet to test. The unique design of the double-jointed articulation of the Thump's earpieces looks promising, however, as far as comfort is concerned. We'll have a full review up soon on CNET Reviews.