Why, though? Sunglasses with sound, but no style

Oakley tried to combine sunglasses with an MP3 player, but it just wasn’t cool or cheap enough.

The jury’s still out on the success of Apple’s Vision Pro, but VR headsets are meant to be immersive, so it makes sense for them to cover both a user’s eyes and ears.

A pair of Oakley Thump sunglasses on a blue and white background.

But 2004’s Oakley Thump — sunglasses, earbuds, and an MP3 player all in one — was just too expensive for what it provided.


… are for protecting your eyes from the sun and looking cool. Oakley Thump came in a single style and a handful of colors, none of which made anyone look cool — not even Lil Jon, who had his own edition.

Attached were a pair of earbuds and a rechargeable MP3 player, which could hold up to 128MB or 256MBs of music. The 256MB version cost $495 ($800+ today), per Engadget.

What went wrong?

Back when most people used wired headphones, a device with six hours of battery life that wouldn’t tangle you in wires may have been appealing, especially for joggers or bikers.

Engadget found the Thump easy to use and the sound quality “surprisingly excellent.”

However, there are only so many activities one performs in sunglasses, unless they’re a Terminator.

The much cheaper iPod Shuffle (RIP) and other competitors retailed for several hundreds less, and didn’t require wearing sunglasses to use them.


… Oakley made a second Thump, which CNET mostly liked — aside from the price, and the fact that people around you could hear your tunes — and another in 2007 with detachable speakers.

Ultimately, however, Apple’s iPod would grow to dominate the music player market, and Oakley’s high cost and debatable style led it to discontinue the Thump after four years.

And now?

One reviewer noted that the Thump could be brilliant for a few hundred bucks less.

And that’s pretty much what’s happened, albeit not with Oakley and now using Bluetooth tech. CNET touts Bose’s sunglasses-headphones combo as the best on the market in 2024, retailing for $249 today.

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