Thursday, March 27, 2008

Trying to find the perfect phone!

Have you tried buying a telephone lately? The choices are overwhelming. Corded or cordless? Answering system? Multi-line? Call Display? Memory? AC/DC? Unfortunately I can't visually access most of them.

I've never been a fan of cordless phones. The keypads are very tiny and more often than not you get a lot of interference. I know some of the newer models have claimed to overcome that problem, but I still don't want one.

I've had Caller ID since it was introduced in Winnipeg back in June 1993. My number is unlisted and there were a few people that I would have preferred hadn't had my number. I got Caller ID so I could screen calls by number rather than making all callers go through my answering machine. I rented phones from MTS for several years. In December 2001, I purchased 2 "Curtis Talking Caller ID Phones". The phone rings, then it calls out the incoming number. The display panel was large and had really good contrast so it was easy to see and use. They worked very well until late last fall. Almost 6 years is pretty good for $35.00 phones. I looked for Curtis again, but of course they don't make this style anymore or anything similar. I've been looking for suitable replacements ever since.

Last November I purchased a phone similar to the one at right, that claimed to have talking caller ID. It did, but it only said the number as the call came in and the display panel was impossible for me to read. I sent it back and decided to put up with my old phones till this spring when one of them literally died. The other gives occasional bursts of static. I HAVE to find new phones.

I've looked for more Talking Caller ID Phones, but they are a rarity. Anything that even comes close is either cordless or large button. I've never been a fan of large number phones as I go more by feel than sight while dialing. With the big buttons, it is too easy for your fingers to loose track of where you are while dialing.

The first one I bought was the one at left. Uniden is a good brand and this seemed to have a large display. Well it didn't take long to figure out that no matter how I adjusted it, there was no possible way I could read the display. When the phone was in use, it had a hideous blue screen as a background and when not in use the screen was so dark I couldn't even see the display numbers to read the time.

The next one I bought was GE - another good brand. Well the display was slightly better on this one. If I held the base of the phone at the right angle, I could see the display. However, the main reason I disliked this phone was the receiver. It was wide at the top of the earpiece and narrowed to about half the width at the mouth piece. Not a horrid design, except that the top was much heavier than the bottom and therefore awkward to hold for more than a few minutes. This wouldn't work as I talk to my mom for an hour every Sunday morning and also have (almost weekly) long conversations with another blind friend,

So Tuesday, I went to London Drugs and bought an AT&T Speakerphone with caller ID. Apparently it does have a talking feature, but only with the replay of messages. The call display has decent contrast and the receiver seems balanced. (I'll know for sure after this weekends call to mom. It uses an AC adapter for power. I saw several phones with larger displays but they only had DC power source which would mean frequent battery replacement/charging to maintain the stored memory.

I'm still not thrilled, but I've been to eight stores in the last two weeks or so and browsed several on line sites. The pickings are slim. I'll keep looking, as I still have to replace the dying "static" phone but for now I'm really tired of reading manuals and trying to figure out how to use each new phone. At some point, I may consider ordering a Talking Caller ID Box from the CNIB in Toronto. The downside is that it costs about $60.00 plus shipping and taxes. If I don't like it I still have to pay the shipping back.

Ain't technology grand?


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