Reaches out and Touches
900 MHz phone interfaces
By Jim Bray
Now, the U.S. Justice Department
can really get hung up on Microsoft!
The software giant has introduced
a 900 Mhz cordless telephone that not only functions as a regular standalone
unit, but which interfaces with your PC as well.
The Microsoft Cordless phone
($289 Cdn, for Windows) comes with a handset, a cradle/battery charger
you can put anywhere in the home, and a base unit that plugs into your
phone line on one hand and a PC serial port on the other. Theres
also a CD-ROM of nifty-sounding software included.
Hooking up the unit is easy,
and the software installation checks your serial ports to make sure everythings
tickety-boo before letting you use the machine. It correctly pointed out
to me that my serial ports werent working (theyd been disabled
for an earlier review and Id forgotten to get them up again) and
once I fixed that I was off and running.
The phone features lots of
toys, like multiple voice mailboxes that let you direct callers to the
appropriate mailbox for any employee or member of the family. Theres
also "Voice Command Dialing," which lets you direct your computer
to place a call by simply speaking into your phone. With Voice Command
you dont have to remember a persons phone number: all you
have to do is say the name of the person you want to call and the little
gadget obediently dials for you. You have to program the people in first,
There are also more normal
features, like caller ID (if you have that service), except you can customize
this version, creating your own announcements or individualized greetings
to be prattled at incoming calls. You can also block unwanted calls, give
special callers a higher priority, and you can even have your phone/PC
tell you by voice whos calling, so you can either take the call
or hide from it.
Want to get a handle on who
the kids are calling? "Call Manager" logs incoming and outgoing
calls, giving you a record of your phone activity. And when youre
out and about, you can have the phone notify you of important messages,
either via your cellphone, pager or a remote phone number. You can also
easily check messages by dialing from a remote location.
Unfortunately, I couldnt
get these razzle dazzle features to work! The phone wouldnt make
calls unless I set it to "pulse dialing," even though I could
receive calls just fine! Weird. I have other cordless phones (though no
900 MHz ones) and they work great! And I couldnt get the voice features
running, either, possibly because of a conflict with my sound card oir
Alas, review samples of the
phone were as scarce as non-partisanship in the US Democratic Party, so
I had to send the unit back before my calling conundrums were curbed.
As a standalone 900 MHz phone,
the Microsoft works fine. 900 MHz phones give you better range and clearer
sound (normally, at least) than normal cordless phones, and I found the
sound quality of this unit was fine.
However, if you cant
get all the neat PC stuff to operate youre left with a garden variety
900 MHz phone. And thats okay, except that this units a tad
pricey when compared with some of the "non-toy-enhanced" competition.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think