Tech Corner: Oakley THUMP 2

This month, Oakley is releasing the THUMP 2, an improvement on their innovative Thump sunglasses with built-in digital music player. While not an all-purpose replacement for more traditional MP3 players, the THUMP 2 is great for when you’re already wearing sunglasses and want to be listening to music. Available with up to 1.0 GB of flash memory, enough for 240 songs, there are no wires or cords: the entire player is built into the eyewear frame.

There are a number of changes in the THUMP 2 in addition to larger storage size. Rather than simply sliding in and out, the speaker booms have six degrees of movement, allowing for a significantly improved fit. Further, the design doesn’t force you to move the speakers to connect the USB cable and transfer songs, which had been an inconvenience on the previous model. Connect the USB cable, and you’re ready to go. Simply drag music files to the THUMP 2 folder, and they will play in the order added. A major benefit was not having to install any new software or do any configuration. The player charges while it’s connected to the computer, so there’s no messing around with a separate power cord.

However, the THUMP 2 suffers from the same problem as the Thump: the music player is essentially useless when you don’t want to be wearing sunglasses. An attempt around this issue in the original model was flip-up lenses, but the solution was apparently impractical as the new version lacks this feature. Benefit of this design is the absence of cables or cords. Rather than have a player in your pocket and headphones stringing up to your ears, the entire device is self-contained. This is particularly important if you want to be active, such as playing sports, while wearing the glasses. Though not a replacement for the everyday music player like an iPod, the THUMP 2 offers significant improvements over past models in usability, functionality, and storage.