Every now and then, a gadget comes along that just piques your interest immediately. You get lured to it primarily because of its form and factor then eventually realize that the device’s performance is equally impressive.
One unusual device that caught my attention was the Monocle by Native Union.
Native Union has been known to come up with amazing audio devices… and the Monocle is no exception.
At first glance, the Monocle seems more of a novelty item because of how it looks. But don’t be fooled. This amusing little audio device does serve a purpose which some of us actually don’t realize until we use it.
The Monocle is a portable speaker, a handset and a speakerphone. If you think about it, this baby is a nifty and versatile device in its own quirky little way. Yes, you use the Monocle to playback music and as a speakerphone during phone calls… but how it is used is what gives this interesting device its uniqueness.
Looking like a detached earpiece of a pair of on-ear headphones, the Monocle serves up decent audio considering its size. In fact, you might even be surprised by how much sound it puts out.
A microphone is located just below the earpiece, attached to the cable and uses an L-shaped 3.5mm plug to connect to any of your devices.
The Monocle has a button on the headpiece itself which is used to control music playback (play, pause, skip track, etc.)
The outer rim of the Monocle’s headpiece can be rotated like a volume control dial. It also clicks at the very end to turn the speakerphone feature on and off.
When the Monocle’s speakerphone feature is turned off (indicated by a built-in white LED), it works like your typical handset – hold it up to your ear just like a regular phone when making calls.
I love how you can daisy-chain up to 10 Monocles using the device’s auxiliary port for louder playback or for allowing other people to join in on a single phone call.
When running low on juice, you can simply connect the Monocle to a power source via its micro-USB port (Don’t worry… It comes with a short USB cable, too.)
The Monocle will provide you with hours of music playback time – approximately 5 non-stop hours. It will probably last longer on speakerphone mode. Not bad at all.
Even with the Monocle’s plastic enclosure, it doesn’t feel the least bit flimsy.
But we all know what matters most… performance. On that aspect, the Monocle delivers quite well. Of course, don’t expect it to give out more sound than its 40mm driver can handle. That being said, the Monocle performs way better than most speakers in its category. Sound is crisp and clear. Bass can be heard but not enough to be felt. That is understandable, though. Distortion is kept to a minimum when volume is turned all the way up.
As a speaker, I can imagine the Monocle being able to provide ample sound inside an enclosed area. But using it outside where the sound of vehicles and various kinds of noises cannot be controlled may prove to be quite a challenge. But who would want to use the Monocle along busy streets anyways, right?
The speakerphone feature is pretty cool. During calls, people on the other end of the line could clearly hear my voice with no problems whatsoever.
The Monocle’s handset feature works just like any other external handset. The only difference is its looks which, in my opinion, is its main draw.
How you wear it or carry it along is entirely up to you – hang it over your neck, dangle it on your chest, loop it around your bag’s strap… it’s your call! I guess that’s the beauty of it. How you use and bring the Monocle along proudly shows your own unique individuality.
Native Union’s Monocle is one of those devices that can immediately spark conversation. If you’re a conventional kind of guy, headphones and external speakers may be more to your liking. But if you love things that are different, you’re going to enjoy the Monocle a whole lot.
And since the Monocle delivers the goods when it comes to quality and versatility, ultimately, it all boils down to taste.