Oakley Thump 2: The Exclusive First Look | iLounge Backstage

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Oakley Thump 2: The Exclusive First Look

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Monday, October 3, 2005
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“Put them under your arm on your way out,” she said in almost hushed tones, handing me a black microfiber pouch. “No box?”, I asked. “Not yet. We won’t have those until later in October.” I knew exactly what was concealed in my hand. We’d seen it in person a month ago - two of them, in fact, in different colors, in a closed conference room. But apparently most people at Oakley’s headquarters hadn’t. A smile and the word “thanks” later, I was walking out the front door to start the first hands-on test of Thump 2, the second iteration of the company’s hybrid of sunglasses and digital music player. They were on my head the moment I got into my car, and I didn’t want to take them off.

First, we can confirm the rumors: Thump 2 is indeed based upon the company’s super-popular Gascan sunglasses, a fact that merits a pause for reflection. Unlike the first Thump, which had to win people over to both its looks and its sounds, the sequel roars out of the gate with two pedigrees: people already love Gascan, and Oakley proved its audio mettle with the prior Thump music player. You know, the one that used the same Sigmatel chip as Apple’s iPod shuffle - the iPod that bassheads prefer for its low-end frequency handling?

The company’s also improved upon many of Thump’s features, most notably its earphones. We liked the prior versions (left), but the new ones (right) are unquestionably better. They rotate roughly 270 degrees around the center point on the hinge, and now use two pivot balls to flex far more precisely where you want them. Oakley’s also tipped their outer edges with rubber to make them more comfortable to leave sitting in your ears than before. The result is sound you can still hear when wind is ripping through your hair on a bike, a major part of Thump 2’s appeal: one device, no headphone wires, and nothing to fall out of your ears while you’re on the go outside. Once those earbuds are in, they stay in unless you want them out. And like Thump, music sounds great coming out of them.

Did we mention Thump 2 is more affordable than before? And can hold more songs? And play back AAC files? We have more details. Lots of them. Click on Read More for the complete story.

Let’s start out with some numbers. Last year’s 128MB Thump started out at $395, which we said at the time was too expensive, even given Oakley’s standard premium for sunglasses. Thump 2 starts at a more reasonable $299 for 256MB, and is available in two colors: “polished black” with gray lenses, or “brown smoke” with bronze lenses. Polished black is opaque, and its gray lenses, like the ones we’ve tested in Oakley’s RAZRwire, are clear enough to wear indoors if you want. Brown smoke is translucent, and not the same as Oakley’s Gascan color Rootbeer.

If you’re thinking of buying one of the cheaper models, you might face our dilemma. The brown smoke ones are super cool because of that translucent design, but don’t go with our complexions. We wish they did. Last year, we saw a prototype Thump 1 in clear frosted plastic, but Oakley passed on producing it as too nichey. Brown smoke seems to be a compromise or a test - maybe both - to see whether the “I’m wearing technology” thing can work, only more subtly than a clear frame. If either of us had the (blonde) hair for it, we’d be wearing the brown smoke one just to do it. But the black version is plenty good. Better looking than the original Thump, in our view, by quite a margin. Gascan good.

You can jump up to 512MB for $50 more - $349 gets you either polished white Thump 2s with black iridium lenses, or polished black ones with black iridium lenses. At the top of the line is the 1GB polished black with black iridium version ($449) - the one shown in most of our photographs. To put that in perspective, today’s most expensive Thump 2 has four times the memory of the first top-end Thump, and costs less. While the $299 entry point is not cheap in an absolute sense of the word, Oakley definitely deserves some credit for becoming more aggressive on pricing.

At first blush, you can see that the top of Thump 2 is a lot cleaner than the highly textured design of Thump. The melding of electronics into the Gascan frame was easier, and looks less forced than it did with Thump. A direct comparison image is below.

The rounded buttons are easy to use - the first three buttons are used for track backward, power, and track forward, while the other two are for volume control. Unlike the iPod shuffle, which uses similarly simplified controls, Oakley’s also come up with secondary button features and combinations - instead of a power switch, holding play/pause for a couple of seconds turns Thump on or off, and a combo triggers alternate equalizer settings.

What you won’t realize from these shots is that Oakley’s also made less obvious improvements from the prior iteration of Thump. Gone are the goofy flip-up shades: Thump 2 can now be worn indoors by flipping the frames around to rest the lenses on the back of your neck, then re-adjusting the earpieces. The power indicator light (which is to the right of the 1G sticker) now glows in three stages. You can also see a hint of the small bottom-mounted rubber lip for the unit’s single USB port, which is used for both data transfers and recharging.

Thump 2 has three playback modes: straight progression through your playlist, shuffled play (the playlist is randomized, and one song is chosen from the list until none remain), and random play (each song that plays can be any song from the list, even if it’s played already). And now it plays AAC files, too - not, regrettably, the protected iTunes Music Store ones, but any ones you encode yourself and don’t encrypt.

And there’s one last shot of the earbud and frame stylistic differences. Oakley was able to do away with the separate volume control circuit board in the other stem, reducing the associated weight and the need for bulging plastic moldings. The result is a Thump 2 that looks as good on your head as Gascans would, without the compromises. There are some subtle differences in the shapes of the glasses, though. I found Thump 2 a comfortable fit, but Dennis found their shape (unlike Gascans, interestingly) not to be right for the contours of his face. Oakley attributed this to slight “Asian fit” differences in bone structure, so like Thump, you’ll need to try these on to see if they’re a good match for you. They also lean even more masculine in design than the last Thumps, so it remains to be seen whether women will go Yoko Ono for the sake of ditching their headphone wires.

Overall, we’re definitely more impressed by Thump 2 than its predecessor, and think this has the potential to be a big deal for Oakley when it launches at the end of October. History has shown that a sub-$300 entry point is infinitely more mass-market than a sub-$400 one, and now Oakley has two models at the lower level. Plus, as the company noted in our discussions some time ago, the appeal of this device - and its associated pricing - is unlike an iPod shuffle in that you may well find that the cheapest 256MB model is perfectly adequate for use during shorter-duration outdoor activities. You could step up to the premium 1GB model, or pay a smaller premium for a different set of colors, but you don’t have to.

In our testing, we’d generally agree. Even after loading Thump 2 with a gig of music, we found ourselves listening to around 10 or 20 songs in a session - 40 or 80 megs worth. Whereas this was a problem with the original 128MB Thump (30 songs), Thump 2 starts at a 60 song capacity - closer to right. We’d still drop the extra $50 for one of the 512MB models. They are available in Gascan-style white, after all.

Comments? Questions? We’ll try to address them below. And we’ll have more to say in a future update, too. Past Thump 1 coverage is available here and here, with coverage of RAZRwire here.

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Comments

1

So…Have you guys seen Thump 3? and does it have HDHU?

Posted by MadScienceFan on October 3, 2005 at 9:47 AM (PDT)

2

These things still make you look like a dork from some 80’s movie. Just plain ugly and way too expensive for what you get storage-wise.
I never saw anyone with the Thump v1, and will be surprised to see anyone with these in the future.

Posted by snappy on October 3, 2005 at 10:01 AM (PDT)

3

Can you still keep the earphones in your ear if you want to pull the glasses up by the head? Jeremy mentioned that you can wear the glasses by the back of the head and still keep the ear phones on the ear.

Posted by Ryan on October 3, 2005 at 12:22 PM (PDT)

4

I think it’d be awesome if they could have an electronic ticker that projects at the bottom of your vision or something that shows the track info, but I have no idea how they’d be able to do that!

Posted by Taylor on October 3, 2005 at 10:08 PM (PDT)

5

these are the s***

anybody who doesn’t like them isn’t ready for the future

Posted by Nate on October 4, 2005 at 8:26 AM (PDT)

6

I agree, these are better looking than the first iteration of the Thump, but will still fail miserably in the long run.  I can’t believe we’re getting excited about a whopping 1gb og storage… maybe three years ago that would of made headlines.  No one liked/wore the first ones, and the trend will continue.  Oakley, stick to what you do best… pristine sunglasses not electronics.

Posted by Billy on October 4, 2005 at 9:10 AM (PDT)

7

I love my first edition of Thump.  Now I can’t wait until these are released.  Thump 2 looks more fluid and has better fit for all sizes.  Oakley has stuck with what they do best.  Analyze a Problem, Find a Solution, Wrap in Art.  No other company has thought of what Oakley has invented.  Just be happy it was Oakley, and not a sub-par eyewear company.

Posted by Brian on October 5, 2005 at 8:02 AM (PDT)

8

So what about people with big heads who the Gascans don’t fit?  Why doesn’t someone (preferably Oakley since I love their Romeo IIs) develop bluetooth headphones that will fit on any pair of sunglasses and a transmitter unit for the iPod?  If someone could come up with that and even make it compatible with cell phones too they would have my money and loyalty.

Posted by Brian on October 5, 2005 at 10:04 AM (PDT)

9

The only people I could see wearing a pair of these, is either a hipster doofus with more money than he’s knows what to do with or some dorky computer science major.

Posted by Adam on October 5, 2005 at 11:49 AM (PDT)

10

Well let me just say this, some people just love oakley, some people just dont.  I can tell you from experience that these glasses are amazing.  And to those who say 1GB is too small, you fail to see the point.  These shades are not supposed to be a replacement to your precious ipods (i’m a user myself), but are designed to be more of a sports option.  I’m an avid mountain biker with a pair of thumps and they are absolutly the best for riding.  No fumbling with wires, no headphones popping out at inopportune moments.  These second incarnations are even better.  Oh, and my head size is 7 5/8 and my gascans fit just fine.

Posted by Kyle on October 5, 2005 at 4:34 PM (PDT)

11

brian-
i have a massive head, and the gascans were the only ones that do fit me.

Posted by chris on October 5, 2005 at 5:32 PM (PDT)

12

That’s all we need is more organ donor wannabees using these while driving or biking.

Posted by ted on October 6, 2005 at 1:05 AM (PDT)

13

Ted, I think there was a key word before the word “biker” in Kyle’s response. Car’s don’t go where he is.

As a THUMP 1 user and marathon runner myself the cool thing about THUMP that no other audio device on the market has is the ability to position the speakers where you want it whether it is in your ear or in a specific point in space (floating the speakers just outside your ear for instance). This allows you to wear and listen to your music clearly while continuing to hear everything around you. Thus allowing you to avoid being hit by faster and larger moving objects.

Kyle, I think 1GB is too big for the purpose of this device. 256 is okay and 512 is perfect. I know I’m not going to need more than say 5 hours worth of music when I wear these. Which is interesting since the devices battery lasts 6 hours. The thing I think people get held up on is the fact that iPods hold 60Gb of data, iPod Nano’s hold 4, etc. I don’t need 1000 songs on my head, I just need my favorites and thump does that. Of course when I get in my car and drive I want my iPod (besides it’s illegal to drive while wearing headphones).

THUMP rocks and THUMP2 looks even better. I know what I’m asking for for christmas. smile

Brown Smoke THUMP 2 here I come.

-TG

Posted by az_runner on October 6, 2005 at 7:00 PM (PDT)

14

As a big (well, huge) Oakley fan, I feel qualified to say that I never liked Thump…  Sure I could see the benefit for people doing sports who don’t want to have a ‘wired’ player, but unless you could make a pair of sunglasses that had seamless audio integration, I just didn’t see the point for anyone else. It just seemed like Oakley were trying to cash in on the whole iPod thing.

Well, Thump 2 is a big step forward… the audio components still look out of place and still take up abit too much space for a pair of sunglasses, but they’re getting there. Thump were fairly ugly (well IMHO and many other Oakley fans’), but Gascan is a great design, Oakley were wise to use them as the basis for Thump2.

I would have never considered Thump, give me some Romeo 2’s and a nano any day, but Thump2 I’d be tempted as I love the Gascan design.

If Oakley continue to put time, money and marketing into the Thump line, then I reckon in 2 years we may get some products that offer what the current Thump provide, but in a more seamless form factor.

Brian has the right idea, I want Apple for my music and Oakley for my glassess, if they would provide a headphone system that would attach to my juliets or monster dogs which allowed me to listen to my regular iPod.. that would be top-stuff.

James

-
BritPod.com

Posted by James @ BritPod on October 7, 2005 at 7:49 AM (PDT)

15

“The only people I could see wearing a pair of these, is either a hipster doofus with more money than he’s knows what to do with or some dorky computer science major.” -Adam

A dorky computer science major who is making more money than you are. I thought “dorky” was supposed to mean something bad.

These sunglasses were designed with a specific purpose in mind (like the one Kyle articulated)...so come on guys, I think Oakley knows what they’re doing. Do you think they really expected everyone to be flocking around with these on, considering themselves “hip”?

Get a clue people.

Posted by tedJohnston on October 15, 2005 at 3:10 PM (PDT)

16

Well, Your getting warm but not yet hitting the market. I’m not happy with the new product. I agree its not pleasing to the eye or my wallet. I work in the electronic world working for the most avance organization in the world. Oakly’s needs to go back and re-design the sunglasses. Also, get rid of your market director he/she stinks. Sorry , Oakly but I’m trying to keep this real.

Posted by John slade on November 1, 2005 at 9:56 PM (PDT)

17

Just purchased the Thump2 (512) and LOVE them!  As a runner and mountain biker I love the freedom from my wired and ipod that would stop every 12 minutes or so while running.
The only downfall is that you can’t listen to most songs downloaded from iTunes.  The AAC protected songs will not play.
Does anyone know HOW to get these songs to play on the Thump2???

Posted by tamara Addis on December 11, 2005 at 3:26 PM (PDT)

18

where can u buy the thump two in australia preferably canberra act

Posted by david anderson on December 17, 2005 at 3:57 PM (PDT)

19

do these sunglasses come in different sizes

Posted by david anderson on December 17, 2005 at 4:24 PM (PDT)

20

Tamara, I think I have an idea for you…write me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by jkravny on January 18, 2006 at 4:59 PM (PDT)

21

Hey Oakley, I myself don’t own a pair of Thump 2 Sunny’s, but I’ve tried them and I think they are AWESOME!! I play tennis and I personally think they would be the right thing to where while playing.  I’m just saving up to buy a pair. So Oakley keep up the good work, things can only get better from here!

Posted by John Yetti on March 1, 2006 at 8:52 PM (PDT)

22

hey guys
are the lenses interchangeable on the thump 2’s and if not how would i go about getting a custom set up? wink

Posted by big ben on March 2, 2006 at 11:38 PM (PDT)

23

Just bought Thump 2, they sound better than the Thump 1 but I don’t think they look better. And they hardly fit my face, I have to wear them for a couple of minutes, so they stop falling down my nose because they’re too “tight” on my head. I have a big head, right but not a huge one. So I think that Oakley should offer two different sizes of the Gascan style.

Posted by RC on March 31, 2006 at 4:19 PM (PDT)

24

Your guys’s iPod shuffle is the greatist thing ever.  I wake up, go to school, and listen to my iPod.  You guys rock.

Posted by steven segull on April 25, 2006 at 8:24 PM (PDT)

25

Hey guys,
I just bought these for running/biking but haven’t received them yet…just having a little buyers remorse…based on..am I going to look really bad in these since I’m a female and has anyone been caught in a rainstorm?? Thanks for your opinions.

Posted by Jen on April 30, 2006 at 6:46 PM (PDT)

26

I do excavating work, and ride a Harley. I bought a"Cheap” $75.00 pair of MP3 sunglasses with flip up lens on Ebay, which lasted 8 hrs. before they started cracking along the nose piece area, due to my wide head. Besides that major problem, I couldn’t hear the music do’in 80 down the Hwy. The Thump 2 changed all that. Sure, I paid 4 times more, but, I use them everyday with Zero problems, and can hear the music over the Equipment, and Harley motors. I could give a S#@T less what people think when I’m wearing them!. Oakley did a fine job on these.

Posted by john parisoff on September 6, 2006 at 8:52 PM (PDT)

27

hello, 

i was given a thump2 5mos ago by my wife. it all worked very good. Superb sound, optics and etc. Actually, the best optics I have ever had. Unfortunately, something went wrong. The left earpiece just stopped making a sound. I updated the firmware which I installed from the thump package and still there is no sound. I tried installing it again using the firmware which I downloaded from http://www.oakley.com/thump, but still it didn’t work. Can you please help me bring back the sound? Please sir… I really miss the quality… hoping for your help… thank you so much…

Posted by jp on October 17, 2006 at 6:07 AM (PDT)

28

Anyone know when the next generation is due out?  Thump II is nice enough, but without interchangeable lenses they are largely useless for activities like mtn biking, skiing, running, etc.  ...unless you only do these activities in cloudless blue skies.  For the price tag there ought to be an interchangeable lens system like on the M frames.

Posted by littlewaywelt on November 1, 2006 at 12:35 PM (PDT)

29

Hi… Can you help me with the circuit diagram of the OAKLEY THUMP PRO…?? Thanks.

Posted by juan sebastian landy rios on August 15, 2009 at 12:56 PM (PDT)

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