Brian and I live and work at home, and we have three phone lines and four handsets that are constantly demanding our attention from different parts of the house. It’s a little hard to keep track of. That’s why I was excited to try out the Panasonic KX-TH1211 Link to Cell &mdash a land line that can make and retrieve calls from up to two cell phones via Bluetooth. I figured it would solve the problem of too many phones if we just had one handset to keep track of. But while the idea is novel, it wasn’t actually as useful as I had initially expected.
First of all, there is not a single corner of our house that has good AT&T reception. (Yes, that’s right, AT&T has no reception in a popular San Francisco neighborhood. I have no idea why.) So we scrapped that idea of trying to link the Link to Cell to Brian’s iPhone. This is no fault of Panasonic’s, of course &mdash you just have to have reception. T-Mobile gets a couple of bars by my desk, so I linked my Sony Ericsson to the Panasonic base unit and used it for the past week.
The set-up was easy and pretty much the same as any other Bluetooth device. Once it was hooked up, I could use my cell phone minutes to make calls from the land line &mdash so I probably saved a few bucks on my home phone bill. That’s nice! One problem for me, though, is that Link to Cell didn’t allow me to link my cell phone to both itself and a Bluetooth headset. I like to take my work phone calls hands-free so I can type and talk at the same time. While I was testing, I had to disconnect my cell phone from the land line base unit it each time I wanted to do a phone interview.
Throughout the week, the phone talked to me &mdash it told me who was calling, which was convenient for screening calls while I was preoccupied, but also annoying when I needed my concentration not to be broken by a robotic voice. Also, if somebody’s using the land line, calls to the cell phone got routed back to my cell phone. In a high phone-traffic household, the whole purpose of the convenience of one phone is defeated.
If you’re the type of person who likes to come home, put your cell phone away on its charger in the second floor bathroom corner, and not have to worry about running upstairs to get it when you hear it ring, then for $80 this is a great phone for you. Or if you have your own office with a lot going on and no time to be fishing for one phone or the other or to check who’s calling on your caller ID or to keep track of appointments, then the talking robot voice may be a great help. But if you’re like me, and you’re just trying to keep things simple at the desk or at home in a single-story house that it’s not that big, then you probably don’t need it.
Product page [Panasonic]