By Richard Menta 7/15/04
Ever since MP3 portables first appeared there has been talk of players small enough to include in clothing and accessories. Items like cell phones and PDAs seemed more natural to me than cargo pants and polo shirts simply because I could not trust myself to remember to pull the electronics before I threw them in the wash. Still, the idea is really cool even if there are difficulties in the everyday application to overcome.
So when Oakley this week announced a pair of digital music shades, I was less surprised about such a product as I was curious how they managed to deal effectively with issues like bulk and weight.
Called the Thump, the photo suggest that Oakley has handled these issues quite nicely. This is key if the Thump is to become a true product and not a short-lived gimmick. Fashion and fad being what it is, the Thump has the elements to become the must have gift for teenagers this holiday season.
"Thump reinvents the experience of on-the-go music," said Oakley CEO Jim Jannard in the company press release. "The audio circuitry is built inside the eyewear frame, which means there's nothing dangling from your body and there are no wires to get in the way."
A five-button interface containing volume and track controls are located in the eyestem. Also attached to the eyestem are the eyewear's earbuds, which are attached to a pivot mount that cocks out of the way when the user wants to hold a conversation. The player offers a "sport" volume to compensate for workout noises in the environment, more than hinting that the ideal audience for this player will be the exercise minded.
An internal lithium ion polymer battery powers the Thump offering what Oakley claims to be a 6 hour battery life. It takes three hours to fully charge the battery. A fast charge option will get the battery up to 80% capacity in only one hour.
The Oakley Thump plays MP3, WMA, and Wav files. Sorry iTunes fans, but until Apple allows other players to handle their propritary AAC format you'll have to stick with the iPod when you are on the go. It will integrate with the Mac OS, though, for Mac users who also have MP3s.
The Oakley Thump will retail for $395.00 with 128MB of memory and $495.00 with
256MB of memory and polarized lenses.The Thump will be released in early December
and sold exclusively out of Circuit City stores before become available at specialty
retailers after the holiday..
The 256MB Rio Cali is available on Amazon
Other MP3 stories:
The Record Industry - The New AMTRAK
Beastie Boys DRM Flak
Apple and Real - A Few Thoughts