The Bose sunglasses I thought I might hate but are actually kind of great?

There’s a podcast run by a friend called All Consuming and the premise is fun: two people try out any weird products they get in their Instagram feed, with a full review and rating that follows. At first, the show started out mostly mocking an endless sea of direct-to-consumer drop shipped junk that almost everyone finds in their instagram feeds. But every once in a while, they’d find something that seemed silly but turned out to be way better than they thought.

I found this true for their review of the pillow cube. It’s an overpriced pillow on a silly looking site, and I’ve hated every foam pillow I’ve ever tried, but the hosts quite liked them so I ordered my own hoping for the best. Much to my surprise after the first night, some pain in my back from side-sleeping on very thin pillows for the last few decades instantly went away.

There aren’t a lot of things on earth that make my back pain feel better, so now I pay close attention to the items that Adam and Noah really love.

The sunglasses

I was surprised to see an episode of the podcast discussing some sort of new Bose Audio Sunglasses, and I reluctantly listened to it, hoping it’d be a fun romp ripping apart expensive sunglasses that look like they’re for boomers that refuse to use ear buds. But the hosts seemed just as surprised as I was while listening that they loved them.

So I figured I’d trust Adam again and order a pair. Luckily, Bose’s own site had a link to get prescription lenses for them from a company I’d already used in the past, had my prescription on file, and made the ordering process quick and easy. Customized Rx sunglasses with bluetooth audio in them aren’t cheap (about $350, they’re $224 with normal lenses), but I figured I might as well try them out.

What day to day use is like

I’ll come right out and say it: I love these things for very specific situations. For me, I go on several long walks with my dog each week, often on crowded shared paths or on rural roads shared with 5,000 lb cars that could kill us in an instant. Neither situation ever felt comfortable when I was wearing AirPods, as riders or walkers could be trying to pass me on paths, and cars could surprise me either from behind or ahead of me on roads. So I tend to walk for miles in silence, always keeping an ear out for trouble.

I wanted these glasses because I heard you can still hear the outside world. And from the first walk to the last, they’ve been absolutely great for that. I can now listen to podcasts or music while walking on the shoulders of roads or on busy trails and hear people coming and going well in advance. I don’t keep them super loud but I’ve never missed a show or song and still feel like I can easily hear about 90% of what is going on around me.

I haven’t done many bike rides with them, but I suspect that’ll be the next killer use for them. It’s never super safe to ride a bike with headphones in your ears for a variety of reasons, but I typically ride on remote dirt roads so much that I might only see one car an hour. But still, headphones while riding makes me a little nervous and I can definitely see moving to using these on future rides.

I’ve also found these glasses great for doing yard work or gardening around the house. Or anytime I’m tooling around the house on my own fixing things or fetching things, and want to listen to something along the way.

The sound

The first time you put them on and fire them up, they do a little audio surround sound trick that’s really quite impressive. Tiny speakers above and behind your ear each do a little THX movie preview sound in a fun way.

I’ve spent the last month or so listening to podcasts and music on them and the sound isn’t at all full spectrum, sounding pretty tinny and small, like wearing early apple headphone buds. There’s a nearly complete lack of bass, but you barely notice it on podcasts and with music, the freedom of hearing the outside world along with your music is kind of nice, even if it lacks any low end.

I didn’t have super high hopes for the sound quality so I kinda got what I expected here, and I think they sound good enough for what they are.

The sound of these to other people is lower than you’d think. I can have some music cranking on them, take them off and hear just a small tinny version of it. I probably sound like I’m wearing open ear headphones (like some Grado SR60s) when I’m around other people. More annoying than total silence, but nothing close to having a big bluetooth speaker box with you. If someone were to casually pass me on a walking path they’d probably barely hear or realize I was listening to anything on my end. I’m usually alone while listening to these, so it hasn’t been a problem, but I wouldn’t suggest wearing these next to someone who was trying to read a book as the small sound bleed might bug others.

The look and fit

I’ve never in my life purchased sunglasses online without ever trying on a pair in the real world on my face. So I bit the bullet, picked the Tenor frame that looked cool enough online, and in a couple weeks they showed up and fit well. They look pretty good, and you can barely notice the temples on the side of them are taller and thicker to carry batteries and bluetooth speakers, just being a little thicker than normal.

The fit is great, and I like the looks of them. No one on the street has ever noticed them or asked me about them, so they’re not such weird tech that they stick out in public. Kudos to the Bose team for figuring this out, as every other sort of “AR Glasses” product ends up looking super strange and weird and people rightfully could think you’re a creep for wearing them.

The battery life

One of the last things to impress me has been the battery life. The sides of the frames are not that big or thick and I was concerned they would require frequent recharging. I also never wanted the batteries to die while I was using them.

I’m happy to report after a month of using them, the battery typically goes down by about 10% for each hour you use them. My dog walks take just about an hour and I find I can do several and still have the battery above 50% when I boot them up each time (a voice tells you the current level). At my current rate I only need to recharge once every couple weeks, which is great.

Conclusion

Like the All Consuming podcast, I would give these glasses very high marks. If you’ve got a situation where you want to listen to music or podcasts but also have a job or situation where you have to stay engaged with people and situations around you, these might be a killer bit of tech that fills a role like no other.

I do wonder what Apple might do if they had done a version of this product. They could be a bit more stylish looking, fully tap into Siri features, and maybe become more like augmented reality sunglasses but without any cameras. Perhaps you’d get audio cues for things around you or walking directions or your texts read aloud to you. I’d love to see them take a crack at this.