The Split THUMP from Oakley is another addition to the Oakley THUMP family of sunglasses with built-in MP3 Players. I for one was never a fan of the original THUMP. I felt they were extremely masculine looking and certainly would not be considered very attractive on any woman. The Split THUMP however is a more softer, unisex approach with the original concept in mind but this time the design is a little more woman friendly.
At first glance the Oakley Split THUMP is a bit less severe in style compared to the other sunglasses in this line. They are styled as a high end pair of sunglasses which could easily pass as a pair of D&G or Gucci’s. However, the frames are on the large size and will probably not look good on petite female faces, then again, large frames are very in style this summer. The glasses come in several different Frames/Lens: Polished Black with Warm Grey lens, Polished Black with Grey Polarized lens, Crystal Black with Black Iridium lens, and lastly Brown Smoke with Dark Bronze Lens. We got to review the Polished Black with Warm Grey lens with 1GB of storage. There is a 2GB version of the same pair. The stems of the sunglasses have the controls for the Built-in MP3 Player. The right stem has the Power/Play/Skip/Pause controls. The left stem has the volume controls. When you take off the stickers that depict the functions on each arm you either better memorize it before throwing the stickers away or the only other way to see what the functions are is to take the glasses off and to look at the opposite side of the arm where the functions are lasered into the plastic.
The Split THUMP are unique because not only can you use them as a MP3 player but you can choose to use them as a stand alone pair of regular sunglasses by removing the speakers (ear pieces). The speakers are removable and can easily be snapped into place or removed depending on what you plan on using them for that day. In addition, the eyewear is designed to be sweat resistant, so that no sweat lines will form around the frames of the glasses. This is one pair of glasses that aims to do everything and a bag of chips. But onwards to see if it lives up to all the hype.
Oakley’s Split THUMP comes with a USB cable which connects via a USB port under the right arm of the sunglasses. The USB cable not only sync’s music or transfers data files from your computer to your glasses but it also charges them as well when connected to a computer. A full charge the battery will last 8 hours, certainly enough time for a long jog or a bicycle ride. I tested the Split THUMP first on my Mac. After connecting the Split THUMP, in a few seconds it was available as a device to drop music files into. The Split THUMP does not support .m4p formats but it will support AAC (Non DRM), MP3, WMA, and WAV. Unsuprisingly, it won’t sync with iTunes either. When I opened up iTunes, it didn’t pick it up as a MP3 device for iTunes. The Split THUMP operates as a typical Flash Drive that you can drop music files onto when you use it with the Mac. For me it wasn’t really a deal breaker since I’m not a huge fan of iTunes anyway. However the web site advertises that iTunes Plus files will work with the Thumps, which is another way of saying that DRM free AAC music files purchased from iTunes can play on the Split THUMP.
I then moved over to my PC which is running Win XP Pro ( gave up on Vista) again it was a pretty simple setup. I attached the sunglasses to my PC via the USB and it was picked up automatically and installed. Windows Media Player was the only media player I had installed on the PC so it became the default player for the Split THUMP. When working with PCs, the Split THUMP also supports AAC, MP3, WMA and WAV as well. It picked it up right away and listed it as a device I could sync with. I sync’d a few songs and it did it very easily with no problems at all, I let Windows Media Player handle it. For both Mac and PC computers, I didn’t need to download any device driver software or have to use an installation CD. It was a very simple and painless install as well as transferring music on to the glasses.
Wearability / Interface:
As we said earlier the control buttons are located on the stems of the sunglasses and are very simple to control. To turn on the sunglasses to use the MP3 player you have to hold down the “play” button and it will turn on. The same can be said when you want to turn them off. By a simple touch of any of the buttons you can easily operate the glasses. The tricky part is the removable speakers. You snap them into place on either stem if you want to listen to the music while wearing the sunglasses or remove them if you want to use them as just a plain pair of sunglasses. The speakers when snapped into the glasses are adjustable to fit comfortably in your ears. It took a few tries for me to fit them in my ears to hear the music and not look like total dork or the glasses looking crooked on my face. The speakers contort very nicely, it just takes a bit of playing around till you feel comfortable with them in your ears with the frames on your face. For me the stems were never behind my ear when I had the speakers in my ear. The stems rested just a little above my ears and just below my temples. Since I have long hair it was easy to cover up but for women with shorter cuts it may look strange to the average passerby. As a plain pair of glasses I was surprised that the Split THUMP didn’t really keep the sun out of my eyes all that well… for those who like very dark sunglasses, they indeed are just average. Personally I like my sunglasses to have shades as dark as possible, so maybe I am a harsh critique. On the other hand, one of our other editors thought that it was just right.
I was delightfully surprised when listening to music on the Split THUMP. Honestly I thought it was not going to be that great. But it wasn’t bad at all. There are no EQ or Bass/Treble options, basically you have to make sure to transfer decent quality MP3’s over to the glasses and it will play well. Also if you adjust the speakers in your ear you get to hear more or less bass. The music experience was definitely above par compared to some earbuds we have reviewed in the past. Unfortunately after an hour I started to get a headache and the speakers became uncomfortable. However I will give this disclaimer, I’m not a fan of earbuds at all as I wear traditional headphones for music devices so I could just not be used to it. But in regards to the sound quality and performance of the overall MP3 player part of the sunglasses, it was fine and the audio experience was good quality.
For those training for the Olympics or cross training for a Triathlon these are certainly sunglasses for you. You won’t have to deal with wires and you will have a pair of sporty looking sunglasses on. Prices range from $249 to $399 depending on the storage capacity you choose for your Split THUMP. For the average consumer this is certainly a luxury item and at least for women they are nicer than the regular THUMP sunglasses. However for most folks this will never be an iPod replacement but certainly a cool gadget that will make your friends jealous and epitomize your geekiness.
The Good: A female friendly design, good sound quality, removable speakers means that they can be used as a plain pair of sunglasses, can drop data files as well as songs on to glasses.
The Bad: Gets uncomfortable after a while with speaker buds, lens could be darker.