2014

Review: Native Union’s MONOCLE. Speaker + Handset + Speakerphone

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Native Union, a creative design agency based in San Francisco, CA, premiered its MONOCLE speaker a couple of months ago,  in a slew of colorful choices. Touted as being more than your average speaker, handset or even speakerphone, this creation allows its user to enjoy music and phone calls in a fresh new way. I had the chance to play with the MONOCLE for while now, and today I’m sharing my thought on the virtual paper for you…

There are a bunch of speakers available today like the Jawbone Jambox or the Skullcandy Air Raid, that tout themselves as portable. But are they really? Do you see yourself walking around with one of those in your back pocket? I’m talking to you skinny jeans…

However they are cool for a private listening session, or a small get-together. But let’s face it, if you walk around with a such a speaker blasting noise out of it, you’re a fu*&ing jackass.

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On the other hand, the MONOCLE is truly different. It’s an actual portable speaker and it doubles as a speakerphone. It’s small and powerful, you can use it as a handsfree device, answer/end calls, invoke Siri, skip tracks.

Inside the packaging you’ll get:

  • The speaker – comes integrated with a 3.5mm jack nylon cable with mic
  • Nylon Micro USB cable
  • Loop attachment ring
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty
  • Bunch of Native Union Lookbooks

 

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The speaker comes pre-charged but it is recommanded that you charge it ( with the supplied Micro USB cable ) before use. You can charge it using an available USB port on your computer or you can also use your iPhone/iPad wall adapter. Once charged, you’ll get around 5 hours of usage. Which is pretty decent.

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On the sides of the speaker you will find the Micro USB port, an audio-out port and a multi-function button.

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Using the audio-out port you can daisy-chain 2 or more MONOCLE speakers but you can also use it with the included loop ring to attach the speaker to your backpack or belt.

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Using the integrated 3.5mm jack nylon cable you can connect the speaker to any device: iPhone, iPad, iMac, MacBook Pro you name it. Once connected, the fun part begins. At the bottom of the speaker you have a wheel that you can twist to enable the speaker’s different modes.

If you just connect it to your iPhone, for example, the MONOCLE behaves as an ear piece. Meaning you can hold the speaker up to your ear and have a private phone call or listen to music privately. It sound great and the speaker is padded so it will feel comfortable until your hand starts to hurt.

Now, if you twist  the wheel it will activate an LED that will let you know that it is in speaker mode ( obviously once in speaker mode, the wheel acts as a volume wheel ). To better understand this feature, check out the video below.

When in speaker mode, you can use the multifunction button to answer and end calls, skips and pause tracks ( acts just like the inline mic found on Apple’s earbuds ) or long press ( just like your iOS device’s home button ) to invoke Siri.

native-union-monocle-1-FSMdotCOMThe thing is, everybody can figure it out how to use the MONOCLE within 30 seconds of taking it out the box. I bet all you want to know is how’s the sound quality. To be honest I was pretty surprised how loud and clear this lil’ sucker can be. Don’t expect any crazy deep bass to come out of it, but it can easily fill up a small to medium room. I was thinking on doing a video to demo the sound quality, but obviously you can’t tell sh*t from a video. So I’ve decided to take another route. With the speaker’s volume turned all the way up, I’ve used dbSoundMeter to measure the volume of sound. Here are the results:

native-union-monocle-6-FSMdotCOMThe MONOCLE is available for $50 in Marine Blue, Coral, Mint and Slate. You can also get a $60 version available in Black Diamond and Copper. You can check them all out at Native Union’s website.