Image Credit: JLab
JLab’s latest product aims to offer a similar experience to Bose Frames, for existing glasses and sunglasses, at one fifth of the price.
JLab JBud Frames brings to mind two products from Bose. Bose Frames are $200-250 sunglasses with a downwards-firing speaker built-in, for open-ear audio while out and about. Bose’s newly announced $199 Sport Open Earbuds also offer open-ear audio via downwards-firing speakers, but instead by hooking to the top of your ear.
Although not quite as elegant as Bose’s integrated offering, beyond cost, the obvious benefits from what JLab are calling a BYOF (bring your own frame) design, is the ability to clip these to any existing sunglasses or even regular glasses. The two rather large Bluetooth modules attach to each arm of your glasses, but can be used independently from one another if you fancy just one. 16mm downward-firing drivers deliver music directly to your ears without covering. This allows the listener to hear outside noises, great for exercising.
Most open-ear headphones suffer with poor audio quality and bleeding as a result of the speaker not being placed in the ear canal. According to JLab, JBud Frames will not be “heard by those close by.” Due to these potential shortcomings, open-ear headphones are usually better suited to occasional phone calls, podcasts, notifications, direction, etc. rather than constant music.
Other features include IPX4 rain and sweat resistance, physical buttons to control volume, calls and switch EQ settings, and an impressive 8-hour battery life from the bulky buds. Unfortunately the glasses don’t come with a charging case and are instead charged via a cable that split into two magnetic charging ports. Multiple silicone sleeves will help these attach to most glasses shapes.
We loved the idea of what was happening in the audio-equipped frames category, but their price and design don’t match the needs of the typical consumer. Besides price, one of the biggest flaws we saw was in the eyewear design and how the audio components were integrated. Their optics and frames didn’t match up to a typical $200-$250 non-audio product, and limited styles will lead to the inevitable ‘You’re wearing that too? Awkward!’ conversations. You can put the JLab JBuds Frames on any glasses you own, without fear of commitment or wearing the same eyewear as the person you’re next to.Win Cramer, CEO, JLab
JLab JBuds Frames will be available in early spring for $50. This price is in keeping with JLab’s other budget-friendly products and gives the item a much more impulsive “I’ll give these a go and see if they work for me” sort of price than Bose’s audio sunglasses at upwards of $200. With Bose Sport Open Earbuds also dropping in spring, there are bound to be many comparisons come release day.