Bass is the biggest problem, for obvious reasons, and it’s not present as much as one would like for $299, but it still sounds good. And the high notes make up for it.
They kind of sound like wearing $100 headphones, without ruining your hair or blocking out the world.
You do run into problems if you wear them in louder areas, though. I had to turn the sound up full when walking along a freeway, for example, and still could barely hear the music. The sound is fantastic in quiet areas, but with every added decibel of background noise it easily becomes drowned out.
The promotional material crows about something called “Bose AR”, which could trick some into thinking that these are the next Google Glass. They most emphatically are not. They will merely be updated to play AR soundscapes in the near future, which is fine, but not really worth getting too excited about.
An important thing in sunglasses is the quality of the lenses, and these are great. Walking around in the burning San Francisco and Los Angeles sun, my eyes were protected from glare and just looked cool. Plus, they have protection against UVA and UVB rays, which your optometrist will be glad of.
The biggest problem is that the frames feel cheap and flimsy. I’ve had petrol station sunglasses tht felt more robust. If you didn’t know about the UV protection in the lenses, or the fancy audio built in, it would be easy to think they weren’t worth more than $10.
They’re also not adjustable, coming in just two sizes. If the smaller, round Rondos feel too tight on your head, there’s no way to loosen the arms like you can with most other high-end frames. And if the larger, rectangular Altos are too big, then you’re screwed.
If the speakers don’t match up with your ears just right, the sound is bad or you end up having the glasses halfway down your nose like a ’90s cartoon dog. But having them too tight is worse, because the headaches just aren’t worth it.
Adding insult to injury they also have a proprietary charging cable, which is inconvenient for all involved.
For a generation one product the Bose Frames are pretty good. If they fit and you want music without blocking out the world, then they’re going to be a good buy. However it’s probably worth just waiting for the second generation before getting a pair, to give Bose a chance to work out the kinks and add the forgotten features.
Alice is a freelance journalist, producer and presenter.