Oakley Thumper

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The earphones are surprising flexible, and comfortable. Flip them up, and you can pick up a call on one side while Weezer plays in the other ear.

And the controls are fitted right into the shades, so you can adjust your shades while you change a song or volume. No worries about getting sweat on your MP3 player while you’re busy trying to keep fit either. The solid-state memory also means no moving parts, so you can free your mind from damage from vigorous shaking of your Thump, and abuse it.

Of course, there are obvious disadvantages. It’s impossible to take your shades off and listen to your music, but honestly who would want to take off such a cool device?

Also, the control buttons are a little insensitive, so you need to press them firmly. My biggest complaint was with the controls: two buttons on the left arm and three buttons on the right, all annoyingly stiff. Actually operating the player is easy enough – the left buttons control the volume; the right ones, play/pause/power and skip/shuttle – but it takes way too much effort to change the volume just a few notches.

These minimal controls translate to bare-bones playback options. There’s an easily accessible random-play mode; otherwise, songs are played in the order they were copied to the player or alphabetically, if copied all at once.

You can also cycle through a handful of pre-programmed equaliser settings, though Oakley doesn’t specify what they are–and without an LCD, there’s no way to visually tell what mode you’re in. Battery life isn’t fantastic either.

A full charge lasts six hours of playback, according to Oakley, but in our experience, batteries never meet the official claims. Most importantly, Thump doesn’t come cheap. The 256 Mb version costs more than an iPod Photo. If you’re looking for an MP3 player with plenty of storage, look away.

But if Oakley is your thing, and you love to be at the centre of attention with a pair of great shades while enjoying your favourite tunes, this is your thing. Style aside, the Thump offers good sound for its money. Volume was ample and sounds were clear at 128 kbps encoding.

The Mylar speakers deliver great bass, allowing you the adrenaline rush that’s so needed in the middle of a workout. The Thump reads both MP3 and WMA formats, so you can store more songs using Windows Media encoding.

Transferring of files was easy, just plug in the device into a USB port and it shows up as a removable drive. Data speeds at 1.3 Mbps, are a breeze.

Oakley Thump is currently selling for $842 for the 256 Mb version. The 512 Mb version is currently not available in Singapore. polarised lenses are charged separately. It comes with a one-year guarantee that covers frame, lens and earpiece damage and replacement. If you have plenty of money to burn, this is where you want to spend it.