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Bose is not afraid to push the envelope. Remember that SoundWear wearable speaker I reviewed? Looked like a toilet seat. I thought it was ridiculous until I actually tested it, and to this day, I still use it a few times a week.
Well, the more I use the Bose Frames, the more I think they could replace my earbuds, at least in the summertime. Because these aren’t just shades, they’re headphones, and tomorrow, they may be even more. (upbeat music) Bose Frames have come a long way since I first tried a prototype at South by Southwest 2018.
They come in two sizes, the larger Alto and more petite Rondo, and you’ll want to choose carefully. I’ve got a pretty big noggin, even after a haircut, and still the Alto was on the wide side for me. They’re much more subdued than, say, Snapchat Spectacles, but they’re still kind of funky looking.
Kind of like a seaQuest DSV take on sunglasses. And while the reaction from my Instagram audience might be polarized, these lenses are not. There are also not prescription options yet at press time.
UVA, UVB protection and scratch resistance are about the only constable features here. What sets the Frames apart, of course, is less optimal than acoustic. Tucked into the underside of each arm is a tiny speaker aimed directly at your ear.
Maybe it seems obvious that a speaker that close to your ear sounds great, but trust me, you don’t expect it the first time you try them. Every time I put these on, in fact, I’m impressed anew by the sensation of earbud-quality sound without actually putting anything in my ear.
And I’ve gotten a big kick out of just sending these to people and watching their reactions. Everybody is blown away. Of course you don’t get the same kind of bass you would from headphones or the Bose SoundWear, but the Frames do create the same invisible fishbowl of sound around your head.
And while the SoundWear is a heavy presence on your shoulders, Frames are a featherweight 45 grams. Bose promises 12 hours of standby and 3.5 hours of music streamed from your smartphone, and in my first test, I actually got four hours of music, at an average 75% volume.
Recharging takes about 90 minutes with a special magnetic cable. I’d have preferred USB-C, but there’s not a lot of space inside here between the Bluetooth radio, the speakers, the battery, and the microphone. As you’d expect, that it lets you talk to Siri or Google Assistant, and of course you can also make and take phone calls.
People I spoke to said I sounded like I was talking on a regular mobile, with the only difference being that the ends of my words were slightly clipped. That’s probably a side effect of aggressive noise reduction, which is a good idea when the mic is this far away from your mouth.
Speaking of noise, if there’s a lot of it around you, the frames will not be loud enough. I found the engine of a city bus easily overcame the speakers, even at max volume, and there aren’t many frills either.
You can’t adjust the volume on the frames. They don’t automatically pause when you take them off, and I’d have liked better water resistance than the IPX2 rating they come with. One nice touch, though, is turning them off is as easy as putting them upside down on a table. At a nickel shy of 200 bucks, the Bose Frames isn’t for everybody.
As one of you pointed out on Instagram, there’s nothing stopping you from just wearing regular headphones and regular sunglasses together. At least then you wouldn’t have to wear your sunglasses at night. So you can, so you can.
But the frames won’t stop at music. Bose is building a whole augmented reality platform around them, so they’ll be able to give you things like directions and points of interest through sound and head tracking. Bose says it will have more to share on that at South by Southwest 2019.
That being said, the best tech-buying advice is still to buy something for what it offers today, not what it promises tomorrow. So I’ll try to shoot a followup video on Bose AR when it drops. Let me know in the comments if that’s something you’d watch. For my part, and judge me if you like, I’ve spent almost this much on sunglasses without any tech built in, and rabid podcast listener I am, I definitely prefer having the option to not. If you want to give them a try, Bose Frames is available now, and you can wear them for up to 30 days before you decide to keep or return them.
Just a quick clarification on the way out the door, folks, at press time, Bose was using a marketing agency to run an ad campaign for Frames. While I cast no aspersions on any of my fellow creators who may be involved in that campaign, I do want to make clear that this review, as with all my YouTube reviews, is unpaid and not subject to copy approval by Bose or anyone else. Please, subscribe to the Mr. Mobile on YouTube if that’s the kind of tech coverage you’re looking for in 2019. And until next time, thanks for watching, and stay mobile, my friends..