The stay-at-home phone

Connecting cell phone to landline phone

By Harold Glicken

When my fellow geeks gather for our weekly summit, the conversation centers around the merits the iPhone 7 Plus over the Galaxy S7 Edge Android phone. Most of us have iPhones; still, I have to admire the curves of the Edge.

So when I started touting the merits of my latest acquisition – a landline phone – there was nervous laughter along with tsk-tsking. I sensed the stirrings of a movement to cast me out of the club. But I held my ground.

The official name of my new phone is the Link-to-Cell Bluetooth Convergence Solution. It sounds like the kind of phone that comes with a pocket protector and a mechanical pencil that has a  worn-down eraser.

How to describe it in layman’s terms? First off, the phone part is impressive. Both the base unit and the handset have large keys. It’s not so much that I have big hands, as the size of the keys means I won’t have to grab my glasses whenever I want to dial a call. It’s heavy, so when I use the base set’s speaker phone, I can press the speaker keys without the base moving around. The speaker feature on both the handset and the base produces clear, volume-adjustable sound. There also is an answering machine on the base.

But where the phone shines is its ability to make and answer cell phone calls. Or to even hand off a cell phone call to the phone’s base. Up to two cell phones can be paired, via Bluetooth, to make and receive calls. Instead of using the speaker on the iPhone, I use the speaker on the base. If I’m on another call using the Panasonic landline component, I can put that conversation on hold while using the cellphone.

The landline phone is capable of receiving talking text message alerts that say whom the text is from (but not the message itself). Contacts’ phone numbers can be imported from the cell phones. There’s a talking caller ID and a competent operating manual. Landline calls can be forwarded to a cellphone if you have that service with your landline phone provider, and call blocking is available. The Panasonic  works great with my MagicJackGo ($35, including a year of unlimited calls within the U.S. and Canada. More information: www.magicjack.com).

Setting up group calls is straightforward. Since my two cellphones are linked to the landline, three calls can be juggled at the same time. And it will help locate a misplaced cellphone by simply pressing the “locate cell” button. If you’re lost at home, press the “locate/intercom” button to communicate with the base using a handset near you. All you have to do is pick up the nearest handset – the base unit will handle five handsets.

Also available are multiple phone books, speed dialing, even the ability to store strings of numbers for retrieving voice mail from your landline carrier (if you don’t want to use the built-in voicemail). Although I don’t have a Bluetooth headset, the phone is capable of linking to one.

Oddly, the time that’s displayed on the handset defaults to a different time zone, no matter how many times I reset it. I also had to set the handset phone to the loudest level available in order to hear some conversations. That wasn’t a problem with the base unit.

If you don’t want to receive calls, the ringer can be turned off, which is programmable for the hours you choose. If you have voicemail service from your landline provider, the message will be stored there; otherwise it will go into the phone’s voicemail. If you want to receive a call from a certain person, the night mode can be programmed to override the do-not-disturb feature.

Those are the high points.

When I finished hitting all those high points, the geeks who were impressed at first weren’t moved to buy the phone, even when I mentioned the price – $40 for a refurbished base and one handset at Amazon. They were too busy admiring the curves on the Galaxy Edge.

The unit I bought is model No. KX-T456CSK, but there are a number of similar phones at www.panasonic.com.

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