Hands-Free Home Office Tele

By Patricia Fusco | Posted July 15, 2003

Gadgets, doodads and thingamabobs are not the mainstay of SmallBusinessComputing.com. But every once in a while, we come across a contraption that makes business communications a little easier — the Plantronics' CT12 cordless headset telephone is one of these new-fangled, must-see devices designed specifically for home office use.

The Plantronics CT12 is a single-line digital 2.4 GHz cordless headset telephone. Cordless telephones allow home office workers to roam about a bit, but the cordless headset telephone delivers a new form of hands-free convenience.

The Plantronics' CT12 is an ultra-compact unit. The charging base is about the size of a computer speaker and the keypad — just shy of one-inch think — is about the size of a bankcard. This makes dialing and programming the phone particularly convenient since the entire unit cradles nicely in the palm of the hand.

The two-in-one convertible headset allows individuals a choice of over-the-head or over-the-ear use. The headset also marks the introduction of Plantronics' newest patented innovation, Firefly — a flashing red in-use indicator light at the tip of the headset boom that tells people when you're on the phone.

The Firefly feature takes a bit of getting used to since the pulsing red orb rests just at the outer parameters of peripheral vision. One thing we would like to see added is a bit more control over the Firefly function. The phone features ringer volume adjustments and distinct ringer setup. So why not offer users the opportunity to "mute" the Firefly?

The headset also features a noise-canceling microphone for crystal clear conversations — a function we confirmed worked very well during our home-office testing. Background noise was minimized — at least my boss couldn't hear the dog barking in the background. But we would have like to be able to adjust the boom a bit to get it closer to the voice source. Low-talkers beware — you'll need to speak up a bit with Plantronics CT12.

Make no mistake out it — this is a full-function home office phone with an informative three-line backlit LCD display. The charge will hold for 5.5 hours of continuous talk time, which is something we did not put to the test. It can also handle caller ID and call-waiting functions if you happen to subscribe to such services from the local telephone company.

The handset offers 10-number speed dial programming along with volume and mute controls. This makes for a 22-button handset, including nine alphanumeric keys, talk/flash button, end button, four directional buttons for speed dialing and phone book entry, four menu and function control buttons including the redial key, and the star (*) and pound (#) keys. Thick-fingered individuals would be wise to keep the dull end of a pencil handy for dialing and programming.

And speaking of programming — this phone is a breeze. "Easy-to-use" is probably the most over-used phrase in the tech industry, but the Plantronics CT12 is really easy to use straight out of the box. The cordless headset phone comes with a 45-page booklet chocked full of information that makes programming the phone book and speed dial functions as easy as falling off a log.

The Plantronics CT12 uses 2.4GHz Digital Spread Spectrum (DSS) technology to deliver increased calling range and digital security. We found that the CT12 could keep us connected up to 150-feet and two-stories away from the base unit. The phone will remain connected for up to 30-seconds after the signal first breaks up, so it's easy to move back into range and continue a conversation without getting cutoff and having to redial.

That's not to say that the wireless phone didn't experience any call signal interference. Plantronics plainly advises users to steer clear of electronic devices, such as a computer, television set or microwave. We experienced little or no problems while working near a PC and a TV, but we did wreak havoc with the signal while microwaving a bag of popcorn.

All in all we'd have to give the unit two tiny thumbs up — the smaller the thumbs the better for programming the petite handset. The Plantronics CT12 Cordless Headset Telephone is available in the U.S. and Canada from Plantronics distributors and selected retailers. Estimated retail pricing is $129.99.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Comment and Contribute


     

    Get free tips, news and advice on how to make technology work harder for your business.

    Submit
    Learn more
     
    You have successfuly registered to
    Enterprise Apps Daily Newsletter
    Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date