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New phones feature countless innovations

Category: Hardware Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cordless phone systems from GE, AT&T and Motorola offer features Bell never thought of

Scripps Howard News Service

E.T. phoned home and Alfred Hitchcock Dialed M for Murder, but neither of them had an inkling of what the future held for the that old, commonplace telephone. Not since Alexander Graham Bell called Watson have there been so many changes and innovations making a single product even more indispensible in the home.

I've been playing with cordless phone systems from GE, AT&T (V-Tech) and Motorola and discovered that the only similarities are that they ring when someone calls you.

The 2 in 1 Internet and Standard Phone from GE ($109.95) can be used to make standard landline calls or it can make calls using Skype, which is a program that allows you to make free calls over the Internet. Also one person can be using it as a standard telephone while another uses another handset to make a Skype call, essentially giving you two lines.

The base package comes with two handsets, a base unit with a digital answering system, a recharge cradle, a headset and software so you can connect to Skype. You also have the option of adding four more handsets.

The only problem I had with this system was the voice quality, which was a bit muted.

Additional features include:

DECT 6.0 digital wireless technology, which provides interference-free calling and encrypted security.

It won't interfere with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth networks.

Full color display and customizable wallpaper.

Built-in speakerphones on each handset.

A selection of melody ringtones.

The ability to conference up to four VoIP users.

The built-in address book can hold more than 100 entries.


The AT&T 5.8 Ghz Cordless Answering System ($129.95), which is manufactured by V-Tech, also has a full-color display, but that's where the similarity ends. Many of the standard features are customizable, which means you're not locked into the bevy of built-in ringtones, wallpapers and animations that come with the system. You can also set up ringtones to identify individual callers.

The phone directory only holds 50 entries and the built-in answering system only has a 15-minute capacity, which really won't handle very many long-winded callers. But its features far outweigh its deficits, the biggest being the clarity of the calls.

They include:

The ability to handle up to eight handsets, which can be "named" for easy identification.

The 5.8 Ghz frequency hopping technology delivers virtually interference-free calling.

The base provides a speakerphone and battery backup in case of a power outage.

Displays and keypads are backlit for use in low-lighting conditions.

You can redial any of the last five numbers you've called using the redial button.


The 5.8 Ghz Motorola C51 Communications System ($119.95) takes us to places no phone system has gone before.

The base unit includes an extra handset, digital answering system and speakerphone _ everything you'd expect from a cordless phone system. But that's where the similarity ends. In addition to being able to add up to 12 handsets or accessories, you can set the system up to call your cell phone if you get a new message.

You can also:

Add a camera and monitor it through your handsets.

Add a Bluetooth Mobile Phone Link, which allows you to place and answer mobile phone calls using your handsets.

Add handsets with color or monochrome displays.

Set the volume of your ringer at different levels for different times of day using a timer.

Add four AA batteries for backup in case of a power outage.

Change the display to English, French or Spanish.


For more information visit the companies' Web sites at, or

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