Monday, July 12, 2004

What you pay for sunglasses

I saw a "special report" on the local Fox affiliate this weekend regarding how cheaply you can get a fully effective (UVA and UVB blocking) pair of sunglasses vs. the prices that people are paying for so-called "precision optics."  Here's my take: can you get a pair of sunglasses at the supermarket that provide acceptable amounts of coverage for your eyes?  Sure you can.  I would question you: Have you ever skied with Revo glasses?  Have you ever gone boating with Maui Jim polarized glasses?  Have you ever worn a pair of Oakleys?

Sunglasses really aren't just about eye protection.  Do I like the fact that my Oakleys are ANSI-rated?  Sure I do.  Do I like the fact that my Oakleys provide my eyes with great light protection?  Sure I do.  But all of that aside, I buy and wear Oakleys because I like the way that they look and I like the way the look on me.  Everything else being functionally equal, we pick our sunglasses and other accessories because of style and design.

Imagine how surprised I was to see the story about this product on all of the tech blogs this morning (picture from Engadget):

Oakley is suddenly thrown that assumption of everything being functionally equal out the window.  According to this CBS news story, the new glasses are called the Oakley Thump and will be available at Circuit City locations in time for the holiday season.  The glasses not only have the signature Oakley optics and design, but also contain a 6 hour rechargeable battery and a 128MB or 256MB MP3 player.  The pieces you see going into Lance Armstrong's ears are pivoting headphones that are integral to the frame.  From the article:

The suggested retail price of Thump(tm) is US$395.00 with 128MB of memory and US$495.00 with 256MB of memory and polarized lenses.

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