For any home or office, a phone is a necessity. Although Cell Phones are everywhere, a fixed phone with a landline still gets the best rates, is reliable and dependable, and offers more clarity than a non-dedicated line. There are a wide variety of phones to choose from, ranging from multi-line systems for large businesses to robust small business and home office options, to budget models for home use.
Cordless phones are best for mobility, allowing you to roam freely between rooms and floors. Cordless phones come in a wide variety of styles, depending on what you need most. The main complaint remains poorer reception for higher prices than corded phones.
About the Styles
* The basic cordless phone includes a phone (handset) and a charging base. It has no answering machine and no special features. It is an inexpensive and easy way to go cordless if you already own an answering machine.
* Expandable cordless phones have a base, usually with an answering machine, and multiple handsets with charging stands that can be placed throughout your home or office.
* Multi-handset models have a main base and expandable handsets. They are less expensive than expandable cordless phone sets because of the lack of an answering machine. Some models support up to 10 extra handsets.
* Answering machine cordless phones offer more features and the possibility of adding another phone line. They may come with additional handsets, but they will add even more to the already high price tag.
* Corded phones with optional additional handsets are ideal for adding lines and for use in large homes or offices. They will also come with all of the standard features of both cordless phones and corded phones, including conferencing.
About the Jargon
Analog vs. Digital
** Less expensive.
** Outdated technology.
** Does not provide a private and secure signal.
** Most common.
** Sounds better because of stronger signal reception.
** You can go further away from the base unit than with analog.
** More secure because your voice is encoded before sending the signal and radio frequencies cannot pick up your conversations.
* '''Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS)'''
** Most powerful form of digital allows for improved reception, reach, and safety.
** ADPCM is another type of digital encoding that reduces noise and distortion.
* '''900MHz''': This is frequently the amount of power that you will find on most phones for home use. They are inexpensive, but often they lack the more advanced functions that you will find on more powerful phones. Models start at around $20 but can shoot up to more than $200 for models that include a built-in answering machine.
* '''2.4GHz''': This is the average level of power on cordless phones today. They offer better performance at this level, as well as improved sound quality. More features become available on these models. Of course, better technology comes at a cost. Prices start at around $60.
* '''5.8GHz:''' This is the best technology that you can get with the clearest signals, the most range, and the best security. Because few people are using this bandwidth, there is less interference. This is the best option for eliminating interference in homes that are running wireless networking gear in their home. Expect to spend from $75 and up for a basic model.
Personalizing Your Phone
* '''Multiple Handsets''':This is a unique way of making the best use of your phone system. The main base plugs into an electrical outlet and a phone jack. Along with the base you have several handsets as well as handset accessories. This allows you to have both multiple handsets for use throughout the home or office, as well as a way to intercom between them. Simply pick up the phone, dial the base or an extra handset, and you have instant communication without having to go all the way across the house.
* '''Answering Machines''': Instead of having two devices to clutter up your desk or countertop you can have just one phone with a built-in answering machine. It allows you a minimalist way to screen your calls and get messages. Some models offer remote message retrieval from other phones as well as multiple mailboxes for family homes with more than one person who is looking to get their messages.
* '''Caller ID/Call Waiting''': Some phone are made with an LCD screen built-in to support Call Waiting and Caller ID if you subscribe to it through your service provider. Using this technology you can see who is calling you before picking up the phone (great for avoiding obnoxious telemarketers). You can also use it to see who called when you were out without needing an aswering machine. Plus, it will automatically save a caller's phone number.
* '''Speakerphones''': Despite the fact that many people dislike being put on speakerphone, it can be a very useful add-on. It's great for meetings and conferences in the office and it allows for multiple people to talk at once when in the same room and listen to the other person speak in real time at the other end of the telephone. When there are multiple speakerphones in one household or office they can act as intercom devices from one room to another.
* '''Individual rings''': Some phones allow for multiple rings for each user.
* '''Three-way conferencing''': This enables you to have three different callers on three different phone lines connecting to have a conversation in one call. It's a fun feature for using at home, especially if family lives far from each other, but it can also be useful in the office for conferencing calls. The only drawback is that usually one end suffers from poor sound quality.
* '''Dual Lines''': Instead of a phone that only supports one phone number, get a dual-line phone that allows for two phone lines in one. This is a great solution for a residence that doubles as a small business.