Geek Culture

Geek Review: Bose Frames Alto

Stick around the audio store long enough and you will have seen more than your fair share of speakers and headphones, with each new model improving on its predecessor in one way or another, but not really making a huge splash in the market. This is where Bose comes in with their newly released Bose Frames. A pair of sunglasses designed to also pump music into your ear, Bose boasts that the Frames are made for both “sun and sound”.

Right off the bat, the Bose Frames look better than most other sunglasses out there already, with a matte black frame and gold accents by the hinges. The only drawback being the clunky looking arms which are where Bose’s tiny speakers are located.

The Bose Frames come packaged in a sleek black casing that opens magnetically. In it, users can also find a small pouch holding the Bose Frames’ proprietary charging cable. The casing is both portable and able to hold both the Frames and the charging cable, making it convenient to pack it in and use it on the go. Unfortunately, the sunglasses can only be charged with the charging cable that it came with so be sure not to lose it.

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We tested this pair of glasses from 11am till close to 2pm (non-continuously of course) and the battery only fell from 100% to a little below 70%. According to Bose, the frames will be able to last for a full 3.5 hours before needing another charge, which is frankly not very long and unlike so many other wireless headphones, the Frames can’t be charged in their case.

Thankfully, the Frames did not heat up even though it was worn for an extended period of time under the hot, blistering Singapore sun. The fact that it was barely even warm was pretty impressive. The frames are also IPX2 certified for basic water protection which means that they will be able to withstand a splash or two but do not drop them into a pool or any other bodies of water.

The sunglasses might be light, at only 45 grams, but it is still fairly bulky for a pair of sunglasses — especially in the arms. It is the bulk in arms, in particular, that makes wearing the Bose AR a little difficult as it is unable to rest on our faces as nicely as one would like. Instead, it sits nicely a little further down our nose bridges. Perhaps it might just be the shape of our faces being not as compatible with the sunglasses, we are sure the sunglasses will fit nicely on other users. Sadly it just does not on ours.

This inability to sit nicely on our faces hence resulted in us constantly being aware that there is something on our face. If you usually wear spectacles you’ll understand when we say that there are times during the day when we forget that we are even wearing glasses. But that is never the case with the Bose Frames.

If you can get past all those issues however, the Bose Frames is actually an incredibly good pair of speaker sunglasses to use. That’s right, unlike other audio sunglasses, the Bose Frames does not use bone induction technology and instead feature tiny speakers fitted into the arms of the sunglasses that are able to discreetly play music for its users.

We were initially sceptical when we first heard about it but was pleasantly surprised at how unless you were standing incredibly close to the person with the sunglasses on, you will really not be able to hear any music coming through. Though to the person wearing the sunglasses, the music is playing at a loud volume.

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As the sunglasses do not come with any in-ear buds or cup to channel the music into the user’s ears, the user will inevitably be able to hear background noises from their environments, such as birds chirping or the chatter from your daily commute on the train, when using the Bose Frames. Though it is not all bad as the user will have significantly more situational awareness than those using noise cancelling headphones. The music that the speaker produces, while not anything top tier and fully rounded, comes with enough base to not sound tinny and one-dimensional. One should not expect anything less than this from Bose.

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The Bose Frames can also be used for phone calls and we were also pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. The quality of the phone call was decent, and the audio was not choppy in the least. One big drawback of using the Bose Frames for phones calls is the small fact that you might get more than your fair share of stares when using it in public as with no in-ear buds to let others know that you are listening to someone, it just looks like you are talking to yourself.

To use the Bose Frames, all users have to do is download the Bose Connect app and then connect to the Frames via the app. Once connected, users will be able to play their music as well as check the battery level of the frames. To turn the Frames off, you can simply turn the glasses over and hold it there for at least two seconds. Users will also be unable to control the volume using the Frames. Instead, it is done on the mobile device.

Though some might feel that while the Bose Frames look cool and all, its practical use is actually fairly limited. Being sunglasses, you can’t really wear them indoors unless you don’t mind looking like you’re trying to be a movie star, or even when exercising and on a dark, cloudy days. Of course, there is always the option of replacing the dark lens on the Bose Frames with prescription lenses but those are an added cost, Bose is also unable to guarantee the safety and quality of the lenses made by third party vendors. Thankfully, Bose has stated that they are currently exploring partnerships to allow for prescription lenses under the Frames’ warranty.

The Bose Frames mark Bose’s big step into a new market away from their more well-trodden headphones and speakers. Design-wise, there is still some room for improvement, but the Frame is ultimately made for playing music, and it does its job relatively well, but at a hefty price point of S$299. If you are already an avid user of sunglasses and want to do away with spending double the money on a separate pair of sunglasses and a pair of headphones, then the Bose Frames will be for you.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

A good first step by Bose into the realm of wearable technology, with a classic looking frame that’ll look good on almost anyone, and more than decent audio produced by Bose’s smallest speakers. Now if they can perhaps work on making the arms a little less clunky and fit a little better.

Overall
7.1/10
7.1/10
  • Aesthetics - 7/10
    7/10
  • Build Quality - 7/10
    7/10
  • Performance - 8/10
    8/10
  • Value - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 7/10
    7/10


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