Hear that hissing sound? It’s the collective wheezing of local phone companies as subscribers hang up on their Alexander Graham Bell service faster than a stock market meltdown. According to the FCC, the number of get-gadget landlines in the U.S. is plummeting as the volume of cellular phone subscribers explodes. Some reports show that just 34 percent of U.S. homes rely on landline phones exclusively.
That’s why VTech Communications to seize this time of ‘last gasp’ transition with a phone system that works with both get-gadget landlines and cell phones. Its new LS5145 Phone system uses Bluetooth to sync cell phones to existing landline service. Not getting good wireless phone signal in your house? Piggyback your cell on the LS5145 and speak freely.
For a home phone, the LS5145 is actually nicely designed with a sleek, handsome styling. Setting up Bluetooth devices was a snap despite a clumsy user interface on the base station. Once paired with a cell phone — and you can pair up to eight Bluetooth phones and/or headsets — we were able to make and receive calls using either the landline or our cellular service. Of course that meant leaving the cell phone on and within 30 feet of the LS5145 base station.
The VTech phone’s portable handset is skinny and feels much like a clamshell cell phone in its open position. Outgoing calls default to landline service but if you press the “cell” button below the number pad, calls are connected using your cellular account. When a call comes in to your cell, the VTech phone takes over. The “cell” phone buttons on both the handset and the base light up to let you know from which phone service the call is coming from.
In additional to the dual landline/cellular capabilities, the VTech desk phone includes a digital answering system, a high resolution 65K color display (like a cell phone from the year 2000!) and is expandable to handle up to 11 extra handsets. While its caller ID features let’s us capture incoming phone numbers into its 100 name phonebook, the base station does not sync with the handset so what’s entered into one is not in the other, which ends up as a damn nuisance more than the intended convenience. To be diplomatic, the menu system on each is, well, stupid, what with its poorly named “cancel” key that does not cancel anything (duh!) but to return us to a previous menu.
The idea behind the LS5145 is a bit perplexing to us in the end. Here’s why: home landlines now offer rates for unlimited calling that are as low as ten bucks per month. And that includes both local and long distance. Why would anyone sync their cell phone to this thing and waste their minutes — especially when you’re limited to an invisible 30 foot tether? Wouldn’t a you just use the handset? As a phone the LS5145 works great, but it’s supposed killer feature is a head scratcher. Even Alexander Graham Bell wouldn’t understand this one.
get-gadget Sleek, portable phone system that handles both in/out landline and cell phone calls with get-gadget landline phone quality. Thin handset with color screen is more comfortable to hold for long conversations than some cell phones. Also serves well as a digital answering system. Handset and base station can be used as an intercom.
Setup and phone directory menus can be confusing to wade through. Address directories on handset and base do not sync, forcing double data entry. Cell phone service must be powered on and within 30 feet of base station.