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Oakley Thump review: Oakley Thump

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Not surprisingly, these bare-bones controls translate to bare-bones playback options. There's an easily accessible random-play mode; otherwise, songs are played in the order they were copied to the player or alphabetically, if copied all at once. You can also cycle through a handful of preprogrammed equalizer settings, though Oakley doesn't specify what they are--and without an LCD, there's no way to visually tell what mode you're in.

Adding music to the Thump is exclusively a drag-and-drop affair unless you use a program like Musicmatch or Windows Media Player, though no such software is included. Thankfully, the Thump features a USB 2.0 interface, so copying songs is a speedy process. CNET Labs recorded an average transfer time of 1.3MB per second when moving 100MB of MP3s. In addition to that popular format, the Thump supports WAV and DRM-protected WMAs, so you can play songs purchased from most online stores, though you have to download a firmware update first. It can also be used to store data files.

The Thump features a nonremovable lithium-ion battery that recharges via the USB. There's no repeat function, so we were unable to record a solid time for battery life. Oakley says the battery is good for about 6 hours between charges--not great, but at least you don't have to buy disposables.

For most prospective buyers, the only real stumbling block is the price: $395 and $495 for the 128MB and 256MB models, respectively. With a 40GB Apple iPod selling for about the same price as the 128MB Thump, it's hard to justify splurging on the shades. For what it's worth, the Thump delivers phenomenal sound. Even our 128Kbps MP3s demonstrated a surprisingly full-bodied clarity. But Oakley needs to lower the price so that even nonmillionaires can enjoy this way-cool eyewear.

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