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Oakley extends its line of “Wearable Electronics” with a pair of MP3 sunglasses designed for sports: the Oakley Thump Pro. At first sight, it resembles its older cousin, the O ROKR (read review), but a closer look reveals a thinner and lighter design.

Because athletes will train in any weather, the Thump Pro is sweat and rain resistant. The rubber surface on each side and on the nose is designed to produce more “grip” with moisture. Thanks to its light weight and tight grip, it is really stable: I tried to jump, run and do all kinds of head motions, but nothing made it fall. A back-flip might do it, but it did hurt too much after two failed attempt, sorry…

Audio
thump pro 11 thuThe MP3 playing capability is the reason why we’re reviewing it, so let’s get to it. The sunglasses act like a USB Mass Storage Device: when connected to a computer (PC, Mac, via USB 2.0) it simply shows up as a drive. Users can copy music files with a simple Drag & Drop. It couldn’t get any easier. Ordinary (non-music) files can also be copied to the Thump Pro, if you want to use it as a plain flash drive.

The sound quality is good: for the past week, the Thump Pro have replaced my in-car audio. My car is pretty noisy (road noise) and using the Thump Pro has been a real pleasure.

Audio specs

  • 1GB (240 songs) / 512MB / 256MB models
  • 6 hours of playback time (tested by Oakley with the max. volume)
  • AAC, MP3, WMA and Audible formats supported

thump pro 08 thuThe user interface is simple and effective: there are 5 buttons (two on the left, three on the right): Previous / Play-Pause / Next / Volume up / Volume down. It is also possible to activate additional play modes like shuffling with a button combination. When reaching for these buttons I recommend putting a finger on each button to instantly know where they all are. Pushing the Previous and Next button at the same time start a favorite song saved in a special directory – neat touch.

thump pro 12 thuThe speakers are fully articulated and should fit your ears easily. While it’s simple to remove one speaker to answer a phone call (with one hand), it is a bit more delicate to remove the whole frame, if you are entering a dark tunnel while driving, especially in a turn. I really liked the original Thump design that allowed flipping the glasses up. I would have preferred a design with softer in-ear speakers, but it’s OK because these earphones are supported by the frame and not only by the ears.

Sunglasses
thump pro 07 thuObviously, the Thump Pro are also great sunglasses. Just like other Oakley products, it comes with lenses that will protect the eyes from UV rays, but also from projectiles (branches, rocks, screws, USB cables, mobile phones…). Just look at this picture that shows how Oakley’s Plutonite lens material protected this man from an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Note that the lenses are interchangeable.

Nothing is perfect
Thump Pro is a cool product but it’s not perfect. It’s a bit bigger than regular sunglasses, there is no FM Radio and it comes only in one size. If you have a small head (like Eliane does) you’re out of luck. If there’s a need to remove the glasses in a hurry, you will need both hands. It’s not a deal-breaker, but depending on your activity, you should be aware of this.

Conclusion
The Thump pro are very comfy to wear and do their job very well: provide good MP3 capabilities and eye protection without tangling wires. The battery life will probably outlast most training sessions. Now if Oakley could turn the lenses into solar panels I would declare it a must buy.

Oakley Thump Pro
1-800-969-2895

Filed in Audio >Gadgets. Read more about Hands-On.

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