The Oakley Thump 2 offers something that no other MP3 player, even the Apple iPod, has: UV and blue-light protection. That's because the Thump 2 cleverly builds a flash-based player into the frame of a pair of sunglasses for cordless on-the-go listening. The Oakley Thump 2 picks up where its pioneering predecessor left off, opting for a slightly more mainstream style and quadrupling the memory for about the same price. We tested the high-end Thump 2 (black with red accents), which offers 1GB of storage, enough for about 240 songs, for a typical online price of £350. The Thump 2 also comes in other sizes: 256MB, available in brown with bronze and gunmetal, as well as black with grey and gunmetal; and 512MB, presented in black with black iridium and chrome, in addition to white with black iridium and chrome.
The Thump 2 earbuds use an ingenious new multihinged system that lets you easily place them exactly where you want. You can even jut them out from your ears slightly so that you can hear what's going on around you -- try that with normal headphones. The only downside: however you wear them, they leak noise pretty badly. Don't use the Thump 2 if you're a train or Tube commuter, especially if you're sitting next to us. Make sure you try the Thump 2 before buying too, as style is subjective. Also, the glasses or earbuds will not fit a tiny percentage of users.
Having spent years untangling the cords to our iPod's headphones, we were thrilled to do without it for once. The Thump 2's lenses don't flip up like the original Thump's, so you can't wear them over your prescription frames. It's limiting, but stylistically it's a good thing.
As before, the Oakley Thump 2 offers two volume buttons on the left arm and three playback buttons on the right. We like the control placement, since reaching up to tap our glasses made us feel like Cyclops in the X-Men -- although perhaps we shouldn't admit that publicly. We love that you can shift forward or backward in a track by holding down the Previous or Next button, something we weren't expecting in a simple player. The Thump 2 also offers new advanced playback options -- for example, press and hold the Next button, then press the Previous button to activate song shuffle -- but the controls are difficult to remember. We wish the Thump came with a wallet card or, better yet, had the instructions printed on the inside of the arms.
Transferring songs to the Oakley Thump 2 is pleasantly simple since it comes with no proprietary software. Plug it into your Windows or Mac OS computer with the included USB 2.0 cord, then drag over AAC, MP3, WMA or WAV tracks. It works with WMA DRM content but not AAC DRM (that is, songs from the iTunes Music Store). We wish that it did, but Apple reserves those files for the iPod. You can add songs in folders or as one long list. If your songs are in one list but are tagged correctly, the Thump will helpfully sort them by artist during playback. We like that the Thump remembers your place when listening and doesn't start each new session at the beginning of the song list.
In our testing, the Oakley Thump 2 produced excellent sound but lasted for a disappointing 6 hours. Though we're talking about sunglasses here, that's too short for our tastes. To many, the biggest minus is the price. A 1GB iPod Shuffle costs £89, and a pair of Thump Gascan sunglasses (which look like the Thump 2 without the electronics) costs £140. That means you're paying a huge premium to combine the two, though we admit that the sunglasses are well designed and well made, and that the original price of the first Thump glasses make these look like a bargain. Considering the cost, Oakley is stingy with the accessories. The Thump 2 doesn't come with a wall charger or a hard case -- you'll have to charge it through the computer, which is difficult for travellers. Oakley will be happy to sell you either of those separately.
Edited by James Kim
Additional editing by Nick Hide