We've seen audio players built into and we've seen audio players built into . The Oakley Thump is the first audio player we've seen that's built into sunglasses--and we hope it's not the last. Though it's priced like a high-end iPod and designed more for function than fashion, we can't help loving these shades, which feature UV protection and impact resistance. You will, too, especially if you enjoy spending time outdoors.
The very idea behind the Thump's design is ingenious, but the execution is mixed. For starters, we were pleased to find that we could wear them over regular eyeglasses, though obviously it felt a little weird. With or without glasses, the Thump fits snugly enough that you can exercise without fear of them bouncing around or flying off your head. Plus, there isn't a cord to get in the way.
The earbuds are highly adjustable and are able to raise, rotate, and extend to fit just about any set of ears. Although they're not padded, we found them to be much more comfortable than most earbuds because they don't have to be mashed into your ears to stay put. We also liked the flip-up lenses, which make the Thump more suitable for indoor use (and make the wearer look even sillier).
On the other hand, the Thump's frame has a decidedly plastic feel to it--a concession, no doubt, to the need to make them as light as possible (and at 1.8 ounces, they're reasonably light), but still a disappointment given the high price tag. Thankfully, Oakley offers colors other than the boring matte black, including Rootbeer, Tortoise, and White Camo. Color choices vary depending on whether you choose the 128MB or 256MB model; the latter has the bonus of polarized lenses.
Our bigger complaint was with the controls: two buttons on the left arm and three buttons on the right, all annoyingly stiff. Actually operating the player is easy enough--the left buttons control the volume; the right ones, play/pause/power and skip/shuttle--but it takes way too much effort to change the volume just a few notches. Our loaner Thump was an "engineering sample;" here's hoping Oakley solves this problem during final production.