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No earbuds? No problem -- these stylish audio sunglasses sound good and are 20% off

Save $30 on the Flows Bandwidth for open-ear audio built into UV-protected glasses.

flows
Flows

Eyeglass frames with tech built into them is still something of a novelty, despite the efforts of companies like Amazon (and its Echo Frames) and Bose (with the Bose Frames). But while Bose charges $250 for its Bluetooth audio-enhanced sunglasses, the Flows Bandwidth does essentially the same thing for $150. And right now, I have a CNET exclusive discount -- get the Flows Bandwidth audio sunglasses for $120 when you apply promo code CNET20 at checkout. 

These are very straightforward sunglasses -- they're sunglasses that connect to your phone via Bluetooth with small speakers to give you a (mostly) private performance. There's a single button mounted on the top of the right temple (that's what the arms of eyeglasses are called -- you're welcome) that controls everything. After turning the frames on, a tap plays and pauses audio and accepts incoming calls. You can also use double and triple taps to skip tracks, end calls and so on, but I'm honestly not a huge fan of memorizing the equivalent of Morse code to operate an audio gadget. 

I've been wearing these sunglasses for a week or so and I have some thoughts. First of all, I initially had low expectations. With the reputation of Google Glass firmly in my head -- and I know Google Glass was a very different product, but nonetheless -- I expected these to look and feel pretty dorky. The reality, though, is that it's not obvious they're tech-infused unless you happen to point it out to someone. The frame might be a tab bulky, but the glasses simply look big-boned in a stylish sort of way. There are two styles available -- the roundish Taylors and the rectangular-ish Brunos. I'm wearing the Brunos in gray. Black frames are also an option.

Speaking of options, you can also swap out the lenses. They pop in and out easily, and there's an optional pack of tinted lenses available if you want to customize your frames. 

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the audio quality, either, but I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, the audio rivals or surpasses many earbuds I've tried. And I hate inserting earbuds, for that matter, especially when I go jogging. Flows, on the other hand, leaves your ears completely open, with some downward-firing speakers that direct sound to your ears. And while the audio quality doesn't rival the best noise-canceling earbuds, the warm tones generated by Flows don't fatigue your ears and are surprisingly pleasant. The solid sound quality made more sense when I found out the speaker tech is provided by Harman Kardon. 

On the other hand, call quality isn't especially good -- I sounded fine to people on calls (you sound like you're on a speakerphone, which you sort of are) but I thought the incoming audio was tinny and even a little static-y for some reason. Is that a showstopper? Not really -- the sound quality was acceptable, and if you don't plan to take a lot of calls with the glasses, it might not be an issue anyway.

You get about 5 hours of runtime, and Flows take about an hour to top off from empty. Thankfully, the frames snap onto the charging cable magnetically, making that pretty painless.

Are Flows for you? Since they're sunglasses, style is going to be a big part of the decision to buy a set. But if you like the looks, I can assure you that you'll also like the sound. 


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