The Oakley Thump 2
The Oakley Thump 2 offers something that no other MP3 player, even the Apple iPod, has: UV and blue-light protection. That's because the Thump 2 cleverly builds a flash-based player into the frame of a pair of sunglasses for cordless on-the-go listening. The Oakley Thump 2 picks up where its pioneering predecessor left off, opting for a slightly more mainstream style and quadrupling the memory for about the same price. We tested the high-end Thump 2 (black with red accents), which offers 1GB of storage, enough for about 240 songs, for a list price of $449. The Thump 2 also comes in other sizes: 256MB, available in brown with bronze and gunmetal, as well as black with grey and gunmetal; and 512MB, presented in black with black iridium and chrome, in addition to white with black iridium and chrome.
The Thump 2 earbuds use an ingenious new multihinged system that lets you easily place them exactly where you want. You can even jut them out a bit from your ears so that you can hear what's going on around you--try that with regular headphones. The only downside: However you wear them, they leak noise pretty badly. Don't use the Thump 2 if you're a train or subway commuter, especially if you're sitting next to us. Make sure you try the Thump 2 before buying, as style is subjective. Also, the glasses or earbuds will not fit a tiny percentage of users.
Transferring songs to the Oakley Thump 2 is pleasantly simple since it comes with no proprietary software. Plug it into your Windows or Mac OS computer with the included USB 2.0 cord, then drag over AAC, MP3, WMA, or WAV tracks. It works with WMA DRM content but not AAC DRM (that is, songs from the iTunes Music Store). We wish that it did, but Apple reserves those files for the iPod. You can add songs in folders or as one long list. If your songs are in one list but are tagged correctly, the Thump will helpfully sort them by artist during playback. We like that the Thump remembers your place when listening and doesn't start each new session at the beginning of the song list.
Having spent years untangling the cords to our iPod's headphones, we were thrilled to do without it for once. The Thump 2's lenses don't flip up like the original Thump's, so you can't wear them over your prescription frames. It's limiting, but stylistically, it's a good thing.