I wanted to do a page here for phone equipment because it’s a fundamental element of our trade. Recently I posted on a message forum, and here is the information that many of my colleagues were kind enough to share with me. I hope anyone starting out, or in the market for new equipment finds it helpful.
I'm can’t speak for all phone sluts, but my life has been a general struggle with phones and headsets. Currently, I have a dual-handset cordless phone system that I love – it's a Uniden 2.4 GHz. It's bar-none the best cordless I've ever had. It never loses a charge, the sound clarity is stellar, the second handset & charger can be placed into a room that doesn't have a phone jack – I could rave on. It's been over a year and I'm still in love with it (this, after about 18 months of going through a new cordless phone every 60 days). The only problem I have, in fact, is that the volume control at its highest level is more what I would call a moderate level on other phones, and this is a problem with callers that are using cell phones and/or other phones with bad reception. God forbid the guy's a whisperer. So, for emergency back-ups, I have a couple of AT&T Trim Lines that can't be beat. They're just simple, basic, good phone work horses.
Headsets, however, are another story. I have all but given up on headsets. It feels like I've tried every type by every company and NONE of them work well for me. Since headsets are dependant on the volume limitations of the phone, it's all about clarity, and I've never found a single one that had acceptable clarity. Those that have moderate clarity don't have any features (mute, etc). Whenever features are added, the price goes up, but quality goes down the tubes and just when you thought you could settle for lowered expectations the damn thing breaks after only a few days of use.
I am very happy with Plantronics headset phones. I’ve had 2 in 3 years and that is a pretty good run for a PSO everyday-use equipment. I previously had a CT10 and now own a CT12 with caller id. The performance is excellent, they hold a charge well and also feature a variety of extras like volume control, phone book / directory, etc. They are single line (which is a drawback), but I feel they compensate by providing extra options and their volume quality and clarity are both above average. They can be a bit on the pricy side but if you shop around you can often find them for a deal. I’ve also had good experiences with their customer service departments
I have a Uniden system with 2 handsets – I think it’s awesome and I love it! I use a Panasonic Headset; it doesn’t have mute or a volume control but because my Uniden handsets have mute and volume control it doesn’t create a problem for me. The Panasonic headset rocks! I used it with my crappy GE Phone before I bought the Uniden system and it improved the volume and clarity. I have a hard time hearing, but this headset has always been like a little boom box in my ear. I’m not sure of make and Model because it was a gift and I threw the box away ages ago. I also had difficulty with headsets in the past, so I will cry a river if this one ever busts!
I am the phone queen. I have a room full of phones and am always looking for a newer better one that does everything I want/need.
My current phone is a Panasonic KX-TG4000B. It has one base unit and a cordless handset that needs no jack -- just a charging base. It has 4 lines and great sound quality and reliability. The only downfall is no mute. It has a hold feature that buzzes in my ear so I prefer mute, also mute comes in handy when you sneeze; cough or the cat starts to yowl mid call. With the Panasonic I can accommodate all my lines on one small cordless, mobile unit. If I’m on one line, other lines beep thru like call waiting but there’s no ringing in the background to distract a caller. I give it an A. www.Refurbdepot.com has it for the cheapest price I have seen.
I also have a Panasonic KX-TG-2720 which is a similar system but only 2 lines. It is a great phone but the cordless handsets don’t hold a charge long and they fall apart after a few months usage. But it has a mute feature and you can turn off one ringer or both so they’re handy and sound quality is good. I give it a B due to the poor battery life and handsets that break.
Right now, I am drooling over the Engenius EP 490 4-line system and saving my pennies for it. I need the range in summer so I can garden and not miss the calls as no other cordless works on my large property. It has a vibrate setting like a cell and a range of up to 2 miles in urban settings plus at 900 Mz it wont interfere with computer equipment if you have a wireless router etc. It is designed for industrial settings and I have been told it has the best clarity of any phone in North America as well as being durable and having amazing volume. I’ve found it here.
I have tried about a dozen headsets and currently am using a Radio Shack (Catalog #43-1961) binaural (2 ear) over the head with noise canceling boom mike, mute and volume control. It has good sound quality and clarity with the Panasonic base unit.
I have tried Plantronics, and found that the sound really depends on the phone; mostly the volume was too low for me. I tried Jansen headsets and liked them but learned they were hard (and often expensive) to replace when they break. I tried a few Panasonic headsets and thought they were crap with my system. More recently, I purchased a Belkin F8V920ttOHB and like enough to use it as my backup. It provides good clarity on the Panasonic units and has a mute and volume control that works.
I have found out the hard way that a mute button on a headset does NOT necessarily mute the phone microphone (LOL). I have also discovered that not all headsets work well with all phones so you have to try them all out in combination.
I’ve also used an Aastra “all-in-one” corded headset phone and the sound was good but it dropped 3 way calls and once in a while when I tried to answer a call it wouldn’t work so I save it for when the power goes out in a storm.
I have my GE 2-line phone which was a gift from my housemates a couple of years ago. My old cheap unit picked up background noise so badly that I couldn't run the AC while I was on a call; it got kind of hot during the Summers. My only problem now is that I'm actually running two lines into the phone, and ever since I did that, my caller ID doesn't work properly. Bellsouth swears there is no problem on their end, but I’m not convinced. This may or may not be an equipment related problem.
Follow-up to "K" from “P”:
I had that same problem with my old GE 2-line phone. It my case, it was the battery causing the problem. I had to buy a new one and after that, the caller ID worked fine. I would recommend you run your battery down and recharge it (kind of like giving a battery a “reboot”), or just buy a new battery. If that doesn’t work, you should call the manufacturer – they may have encountered the problem before, or offer to replace it with a new unit.
I have been using a Panasonic KX-FPC95 for 4 years with no problem. It is a fax machine with a cordless handset that you can plug a headset into. The handset hardly ever needs recharging (I had that sucker off the charge more than once for 2 days straight and it’s never died). It features adjustable volume on the base and a handset volume control, but there’s no mute button on the handset (although there is one on the base). The headset I use with it was a freebie that came with the machine and I use its mute feature.
I also had a Uniden system once and loved it as well – in fact I plan on getting it for a back up.
I have a Plantronics M-12 Binaural headset and as far as I'm concerned this thing is the Cadillac of headsets. It has a speaker for each ear so you can hear your caller in stereo. It has incoming AND outgoing volume control and a mute button. The only negative thing for some people would be that it must be used with a corded phone, but the cord from the headset to amplifier is long enough that I can walk around my room with it. I'm not sure what the retail price is I bought mine on eBay about a year ago and paid $75 for it. I truly love it.
I also have a 2-line cordless phone from AT&T that I've had since 2001, following a period of having to buy a new phone every month for my first year in this business. With the AT&T, I’ve found one I can stick with. It has a super long battery life for both standby & talk time, great sound quality, and the handsets are physically very sturdy (it’s lasted my wear and tear of 3 years). It also has a built in answering machine with 3 mailboxes that come in handy, caller ID, a speakerphone, conferencing of the two lines (I have problems with this feature whenever I try to use it, though), volume control, mute and hold buttons. I love this phone. It does have a headset jack in the handset, but I’ve never used a headset with it until recently. I bought a cheap bargain basement headset for it and it works fine. The quality of the AT&T is so good that I don’t think it would matter what headset you used.
I also have the Panasonic KX-TG4000B 4-line system I love it. I wish I would've known there was the option to get a refurbished model, though, as I spent a little over $500 on mine. The sound quality is great and the battery life on the handset is unbelievable. I have had so many phones in the past that had die out quickly. It doesn’t have a mute feature, but in a pinch you can use the hold button. My one complaint would be that you cannot have some of the ringers on and some off at the same time; it’s all or nothing. There are times when I am not taking calls and would like to turn those lines off but still want to be able to have the phone ring for the line that my friends and family call me on.
Follow-Up to "C" from “J”:
There is a way to program the handset so only one line or two lines ring while the others are turned off, check page 23 of your instruction manual – “Ring Group Settings”. It is a pain to do the first few times but it can be done.
The easier way is to hook up a splitter to the line you want to leave the ringer on when you are not taking calls and hook up a separate phone to that line only. I did that and run a cordless in my bedroom so I can hear it ring but if I am on a call, the caller can’t hear it.
I have finally found my dream phone! For 4 years I've been looking for a waterproof phone that I can use in the pool/spa to take calls without worrying about dropping it in the water. I finally found it in Skymall magazine on my recent vacation flight:
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