In what is becoming Oakley's typical fall fashion, the company has launched another update/addition to its Thump line of MP3-playing sunglasses. The latest model, dubbed the Split Thump, doesn't expand much upon the features of the previous version, but offers an updated style that hearkens back to the rather stylish Thump 2. However, the Split offers a couple of notable advantages over the Thump 2: removable earbuds and a lower starting price point. The 512MB model goes for $249, the 1GB for $299 ($349 for the polarized version), and the 2GB for $399. It's still not cheap, but we're glad to see Oakley making headway with price drops as the line matures.
Oakley's Thump MP3-playing sunglasses aren't for everyone. If, for example, you like to sport gigantic lenses a la Jackie O, you probably won't be keen on the Split Thump's style. That said, the shape of these glasses is rather conventionally sporty, so they should suit most faces just fine. Plus, you get to choose from a variety of colors: polished black with warm gray lenses (all capacities), white with black iridium lenses, crystal black with warm gray lenses, and brown smoke with bronze lenses. There's also a version with a black frame and polarized lenses, which are the optimum choice for those who want to cut glare while retaining the truest color perception. Yes, we must remember that style is not everything with the Split Thump: function and comfort must come into play. Oakley's Plutonite lenses filter out 100 percent of all UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light up to 400nm. And the glasses are mostly comfortable--the frames are light and the bridge ergonomic--but the straightness of the arms might cause issues for some.
There a couple excellent design tweaks of note on the latest Thump. First and foremost are the removable earbud pieces, which are still fully adjustable with three joints. But the ability to remove them really adds to the versatility of the sunglasses, making the purchase more of a value. Another update we're digging: the playback controls are no longer buttons jutting out of the tops of the arms. Instead, Oakley has built them into the metallic "O" logos on either side of the glasses. The left O controls volume, while the right one shuttles tracks--or press the center for play/pause power.