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The holiday season is approaching fast. In fact, it seems to approach faster every year. For those of you in the giving spirit around the office, it can be difficult to find that special gift for the person on the other side of the cubicle wall. It cannot be too expensive and it should reflect a certain amount of lightheartedness and fun. I mean, after all, gift giving in an office environment is really about generating smiles and feelings of goodwill with your co-workers.
With that spirit in mind, TechRepublic has acquired several inexpensive yet tasteful and useful desktop toys for review. One of these fine gadgets or gizmos should appeal to even the most difficult to buy for in your office.
Next on our gift list is the USB MP3 Sunglasses courtesy of KlearGear.com.
By Bill Detwiler
As a fan of gadgets, I was eager to test the USB MP3 Sunglasses.
Unfortunately, the numerous misspellings on the the box had me a little worried. Were these glasses merely cheap imitations of better quality products? After all, they look very similar to Oakley’s THUMP sunglasses.
Would they even work?
A close up of the controls and more misspellings. It never ceases to amaze me how many companies fail to adequately translate or edit their packaging. How difficult is it to look up the word “sport” in the English dictionary?
1GB of memory
These musical shades have 1GB of memory, support: MP3, WMA, WMA with DRM, and WAV file formats, and the lithium ion battery is reported to provide up to 6 hours playing.
More poor English spelling
At least they are consistent in their misspellings.
MP3 Player model
Our glasses featured only the MP3 player, but you can also get glasses with a radio and bluetooth.
Well that clinches it. These are definitely replicas of the Oakley THUMP sunglasses. As best I could tell, the case says OKEY.
Clearly these glasses weren’t intended for sale in the US. The power adapter was designed for a European outlet. I’m not sure if every pair of USB MP3 Sunglasses from KlearGear.com contains a European adapter or not. It’s quite possible that we were shipped one by mistake.
Luckily, you can also charge the battery from your PC’s USB port. According to the manual, the battery is 80 percent charged after 1 hour and fully charged after 3 hours.
Although parse and full of bad English grammar and misspellings, the manual did provide all the information needed to successfully use the glasses.
MP3 Sunglasses in plastic
The glasses come wrapped in plastic and with protective stickers on the lenses.
Okers not Oakleys
Here’s another indication that these are Oakley replicas.
MP3 Sunglasses: Top
The glasses were large enough even to fit around even my oversized noggin.
MP3 Sunglasses: Left side
I assume the battery is housed in the glasses’ left side.
MP3 Sunglasses: Left ear bud
You can adjust the ear buds by pulling or pushing them in and out of their casings.
MP3 Sunglasses: Left ear bud swivel down
You can also swivel each ear bud for increased comfort and sound quality.
MP3 Sunglasses: Left ear bud swivel down
MP3 Sunglasses: Controls
The glasses’ three control buttons are functional, but limited. You click the center button to power on/off the unit and play, pause, and stop songs. The left and right buttons allow you to skip between songs and increase/decrease the volume.
MP3 Sunglasses: USB 2.0 port
You transfer files to the glasses via the USB 2.0 port located on the right arm, beneath the controls.
Once connected to your PC, Windows XP, 2000, and Me should recognize the glasses a USB mass storage device–the same as most flash drives. Windows 98SE users must install the USB mass storage device driver–provided on a mini-CD.
MP3 Sunglasses: Lens up
When you don’t want to stop rockin’ but don’t need the shades, you can flip up the lenses.
MP3 Sunglasses: Front without protective lens film
With the protective film removed, you can clearly see the lenses.
MP3 Sunglasses: Lens
The lenses are dark enough to adequately reduce glare.
MP3 Sunglasses: Lenses
MP3 Sunglasses: Front
The lenses are plastic and do provided adequate glare reduction, but they cause a very distracting color shift in some objects when you look through tinted car or building windows.
MP3 Sunglasses: Left front
I liked the USB MP3 Sunglasses and the sound quality was surprisingly good, but they aren’t without limitations. The controls were functional, but not the easiest to use and the buttons were difficult to press. The color shifting when looking through tinted windows or at some object was very distracting. And, the overall construction just seemed cheap.
Wearing the USB MP3 Sunglasses: Front
So, what do these glasses look like on? Here I am modeling–if you can call it that–the USB MP3 Sunglasses. I think the lenses are a tad small for the melon that sits atop my neck, but at least they sound better than I look.
Wearing the USB MP3 Sunglasses: Side
As of this writing, KlearGear.com sells the USB MP3 Sunglasses (1GB) for $79.99. In contrast, Oakley sells its THUMP glasses (512MB) for $229. While I have never tried the Oakley product, I presume the THUMP glasses have a higher quality construction and better warranty policy.
Are the Oakleys worth an additional $149? Perhaps, but I’m not totally sold on the concept of MP3 sunglasses. What if you wear prescription sunglasses? What happens if a lens breaks? Then you’re left without an MP3 player until you get them fixed. You could wear them with only one lens, but the pirate look went out last summer. For me, MP3 players and sunglasses aren’t like chocolate and peanut butter–they aren’t great technologies that taste great together.