Maybe you've had your eye on Bose's second-gen Frames audio sunglasses, but you looked at the $250 (£240, AU$400) price tag and said no thanks. Well, JLab Audio will be releasing a $49 alternative this spring. The JBuds Frames are essentially open-ear true-wireless earbuds that clip onto your existing glasses.
It's an intriguing concept that JLab describes as a bring-your-own-frame design, although it's clearly a bit kluge-looking and a bit disingenuous to call these earbuds "frames." International prices aren't currently available, but $49 is roughly £40 or AU$70.
JLab says its JBuds Frames are comprised of "two independently operating Bluetooth true wireless audio devices, which can be affixed to the temples of sunglasses, eyeglasses, and similarly styled blue light blocking eyewear." They have 16mm drivers and JLab claims that your music can't be "heard by those close by," though from my experience from using Bose Frames, that only applies when you're listening to audio at more moderate volume levels.
Battery life is rated at 8 hours and the clip-on devices have an IPX4 water-resistance rating, making them splash-resistant. They charge with a proprietary pogo-pin cable.
Read more: Best audio glasses and sunglasses for 2021
You can use them for making calls. "Conveniently located button controls let the user accept or decline phone calls, adjust volume, and switch between JLab's Signature and Bass Boost EQ settings," JLab says.
I have doubt they'll sound as good Bose's Tempo Frames, which feature 22mm drivers -- virtually all of the audio non-Bose audio sunglasses I've tried have sounded mediocre and tend to be lacking in the bass department. (Bose's new Frames 2.0 offer improved bass, and while the sound quality is surprisingly good, it's not on par with a decent set of true-wireless earbuds.) But the JLab Frames cost a fifth of the Bose Frames' price, so if they simply sound decent enough, you may be happy with their performance.
Sound-quality issues aside, the whole audio-sunglasses category appears to be taking off as several other companies, including Amazon and its Echo Frames, have followed Bose with competing products that tend to cost less. They have particular appeal to runners and bikers who don't want anything in their ears so they'll be able to hear traffic for safety reasons.
- Over 8 hours of play time
- Two hooks secure the JBuds Frames to almost any type of eyeglasses, with two sets of silicone sleeves ensure a tight fit on styles with smaller temples
- 16.2 mm drivers
- Output: 120 +/- 3dB
- Codecs: AAC / SBC
- 20 to 22 kHz frequency response
- Impedance: 22 ohms
- Dual connect allows either JBuds Frame device to be used independently
- Two different EQ settings
- Input power: 5V 90mA
- 120-mAh lithium polymer battery
- Charge time: 2 hours
- Standby time: 100 hours
- Range: 30+ ft. (10m)
- Weight: 11.7 grams per frame component
- IPX4 water-resistance rating
- Two-year warranty
- Price: $50
- Available spring 2021