The first thing you’ll notice about the Moshi Moshi 04 is its 1960s-inspired Eero Saarinen styling. So cool-looking is the brushed aluminum and high-impact plastic hunk of eye candy, it almost makes the handset’s impressive functionality seem secondary.
But as seductive as the design is, the Moshi Moshi 04 knows too many tricks to be considered just a pretty curio. In fact, it does triple duty on your desktop — it’s a handset you can use to make phone calls, a speaker phone for conference calls and a set of portable stereo speakers.
British manufacturer Native Union has produced several iterations of these mobile-phone handsets. They take their name from the idiomatic greeting the Japanese say when answering their phones. (It means hello, sort of.) Most of the Moshi Moshis are designed by Frenchman David Turpin, but this one has been dreamed up by renowned British designer Michael Young. It comes in two colors — gold and silver.
The handset talks to your gadgets using Bluetooth 2.1, so it can be connected to two separate devices at once. Pair it with your cellphone to answer regular calls, and it will continue to work flawlessly as a handset for Skype calls from an iPad or as a set of auxiliary speakers for any Bluetooth-enabled PC. You can also pair it to two different phones, two iPads — whatever combination you please.
There’s a built-in multipoint microphone for conference calls. Set it down on a table, click the single button on the back, and everybody in the room can join in a conversation. The quality will of course vary depending on the acoustics of the room, but the sound does start off a tad tinny.
The handset itself has a gentle, concave shape. It feels natural to hold it while conversing, and it actually makes you forget that you’re talking to somebody on a cellphone. And if you’re one of those people who worries about cellphone radiation, you’re provided with more than just physical comfort — Native Union says the handset reduces up to 95 percent of the radiation you would otherwise absorb through direct use of your mobile phone. So you can toss the tinfoil hat.
Music playback is surprisingly decent through the pair of 2-watt speakers engineered by HiWave. Bluetooth audio usually doesn’t sound much better than a trebly AM radio, but the Moshi makes listening to music from a phone or iPad a perfectly acceptable experience, and the bass is solid even without the benefit of a subwoofer. It’s certainly an upgrade from the native speakers built in to the iOS devices and most smartphones.
The Moshi Moshi 04 sits on a recharging base reminiscent of a ying yang symbol. Its rechargeable battery gets about six hours of talk time and two hours of music playback. Standby time is 120 hours.