Thursday, February 13, 2014

Whither the wired phone?

It's clearly on the way out.  I just bought a new one.  My phone service had been getting noisy and staticy with drop outs.  My children all insisted their phones were fine, it must be Dad's phone going bad. Phone in question was an AT&T (made in China) Trimline Princess model, maybe 7 years old.  Coil cord was looking a little frayed, but other wise it looked OK.  But, I took a trip to Staples in Littleton looking for a new plain old telephone.  I used to get phones at Radio Shack, but the Littleton Radio Shack died four years ago.       Staples did not have any standard desk phones anymore, you know, the ones with just 12 buttons to dial with, and the handset plunks down on top of, and crosswise to the bottom unit.  Like Western Electric used to make back in the good old days. Staples did have several humungous "office" phones, a zillion buttons, four lines, takes up your whole desk.  They had some more Princess phones, and just one desk phone.  It was an all electronic, speed dial, push button, speaker, caller ID, AT&T model CL2909, made in China, phone, in white, for a mere $32.  It was the only real desk phone in the store.  All the rest were either humungous, or radio phones, or tiny little phones that won't stay put on your desk.  So, if you have some phones around the house getting old and flaky, now would be a good time to replace them, while you still can. 
   All electronic wonder phone comes with a 43 page instruction manual, needs four AA  batteries, has a three line LCD display that includes a clock, a calendar, and a directory.   It wanted to be programmed for language, area code[s], clock set, calendar set, and some other stuff.  I managed to get thru all this with numerous retries.  A day later I find the clever little clock doesn't keep very good time.  It looses three minutes a day, which is pretty bad for an electronic clock   I have a 100 year old wind up pendulum mantle clock that keeps better time than that.  After a couple of tries I managed to program a couple of speed dial buttons.  And they worked.  I looked at the "directory" feature and decided it just wasn't worth it.  You have to enter the phone number, (not too bad) and then enter the name, using the number keys.  That was so complicated that I decided not to bother.  My desk computer holds my phone numbers anyhow.  The speaker button not only turns on the speaker (Living alone, I really need a speaker phone) but lifts the hook switch and leaves it lifted, which is equivalent to leaving the phone off hook.  Shortly you will hear that automatic voice from the phone company prompting you to put the phone back on the hook.  Useful feature that is. 

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