Monster iClarityHD Precision Micro Bluetooth Speaker 100 Review
Monster’s iClarityHD Precision Micro Bluetooth Speaker 100 is a very compact wireless speaker that manages to pack in quite a monstrous punch in terms of sound quality. Its main capacity is that of a speaker, but it also has a built-in-mic for use as a speakerphone extension of your device via bluetooth. This speaker is a little bigger then the size your palm, with a sleek design. It is indeed a tiny monster.
Controls on the iClarityHD are simple. Pairing is akin to most bluetooth pairing processes. Switch to ‘On’ and then simply hold the power button down until it blinks red and blue. Open your connecting device’s bluetooth controls, follow directions, and connect. It’s as easy as that. It will also remember your device if you go out of range and come back, or if you turn it off. The iClarityHD can recognize several devices. I connected my Macbook Pro and my iPhone simultaneously to the device and alternated using the speaker on both. The bluetooth range range on the speaker is up to about 33ft and it worked throughout my entire apartment. I even went in another room that was 20 feet away and shut the door and the speaker continued to work great.
The silver unit in the pictures above is optimized for Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touches, as well as Apple computers. The black model in the pictures above optimized for BlackBerry and PC’s. However, both speakers run on Bluetooth 2.0. The Apple version uses: A2DP, HFP, HSP, while the BlackBerry uses A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP. My iPhone and Macbook also worked with the BlackBerry version quite well. The Black model might be a good option for those of you who use a BlackBerry for work and want something that will recognize your BlackBerry along with your other Apple products.
Audio coming from the iClarity HD is super crisp. I was thoroughly impressed with how good such a tiny-sized speaker could sound, forget about it being wireless too! The iClarityHD Precision Micro Bluetooth Speaker 100 features two 35mm full range drivers and a passive radiator subwoofer. While most iPod docks or speakers this tiny sound hollow, this one sounds full bodied and complete. Connection can either be done through Bluetooth or using the audio-in 3.5mm port. That opens the iClarityHD to a whole range of devices.
Using the built-in-mic was easy. Just make a call and talk. It’s as easy as that. Your voice on the other end of the line is pretty much average sounding for a speakerphone. Although the iClarityHD does come with “advanced noise canceling,” it still sounds like you are on speakerphone. You may have to speak up at times, or enunciate more clearly, but that is to be expected with any speakerphone. You can still clearly be heard.
Monster also advertises that the iClarity HD can be used with Skype. After a couple days of trying to get it to work, I gave up. Skype, both on the Macbook and the iPhone, would not recognize the speaker. I tried altering the audio options through the Skype preferences but all I got was silence when I switched them to the iClarity. The only noise it would playback for me was the beep upon me ending a Skype call, but nothing in between. Skype on the iPhone does not let you change options for audio input/output in the same way. It just lets you choose “speaker” when on a call. Once again, it did not acknowledge iClarity. That is a down side that is probably an issue with Skype itself, and not the iClarity Speaker.
It is also possible to use the iClarityHD as a handsfree kit for the car as advertised. However, there are some drawbacks to this. One, is that it is only chargeable through a USB cable. With 5 hours of playback time on the battery, you will have to recharge pretty often. That involves removing it from the car and bringing it in, or purchasing a separate car USB charger. Second, it is challenging to find a place to set the device down in your car where it will stay put. Some sort of securing material is needed. Other than that, managing calls when connected via Bluetooth is very easy. Most of us will just use our cell phone to control calls. However, if your phone is out of reach, maybe in your purse, you can choose to answer the call on the iClarityHD unit by pressing the phone button. The same goes for ending calls and rejecting calls. The side controls on the iClarityHD allow you to control the volume. The Blackberry edition’s only noticeable exterior difference is on the side panel controls. It also features a skip/scan/forward/back button.
Overall, the Monster iClarityHD Precision Micro Bluetooth Speaker 100 is a great device to use in place of an iPod dock in the house. It’s great to be able to walk around and use your device and play music at the same time, versus the confinement of having to leave it in a dock. Its speakerphone abilities are also a highlight. This is truly a versatile product and can be used for everything from conference calling to music playback, to speakers for watching a movie on your laptop. The iClarityHD’s value is in its versatility, as well as the superiority in its sound quality. For $119.95 it is a bit pricey but fair. It can also be found for as low as $97 on Amazon.
Additionally we wanted to mention the Monster CleanTouch for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It is a cleaning pack that includes a spray solution, carrying pouch, and a microfiber cloth. It seems like iPhone’s are eternally dirty from contact with the oils on the face, hands, and etc. This spray solution removes fingerprints, oils, smudges, or basically anything on the screen. The process is very simple. Spray, wait 15 seconds, wipe clean. It then leaves a micro-thin coating that is resistant to fingerprint build up. So it is not fingerprint resistant, it just resists build up. The Microfiber cloth also uses something called AEGIS antibacterial technology to reduce bacteria when wiping. The spray is good for 300 sprays. It is about the size of a business card and thickness of an iPhone, making it easy to carry. It sells for $24.95.
The Good: Excellent sound quality, easy to pair Bluetooth, Sleek and compact design, long wireless, auto-connect feature.
The Bad: Does not work with Skype, awkward and inconvenient as a hands free car kit