Review: G.E. Goog-411 Cordless Phone

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The G.E. Digital Speakerphone System offers two nifty features over your standard cordless phone package. First, it has a dedicated speakerphone unit. Second, it has a dedicated Goog-411 button. But wait! There’s more!

In the box

You get two cordless handsets plus base stations, belt clips, batteries and power cords, and a dedicated speakerphone unit. This latter item is just that: a speaker for hands-free communication. You can’t directly dial a phone number with it, but you can answer incoming calls, make intercom calls to the other handsets, and use the thing as a room monitor. In fact, any of the handsets can be used as a one-way room monitor, which activates the microphone but disables the speaker. This might be a handy feature for new parents who got gypped at the baby shower.

The primary base station is the one that plugs into your phone line, while the secondary base station is just a charging station, and has only an AC plug. The primary base station has all the buttons for the digital answering machine, all of which can be accessed from either handset, as well as from remote when you call home.

Features

Each phone can use one of 20 ringtones, plus a special VIP Melody — a separate ringtone to use when that special someone calls (note: requires Caller ID). The handsets each have a dedicated headset jack, so you can plug in a headset for those long calls, and still enjoy the mobility of a cordless phone. The handsets are extremely light, and very comfortable to hold. The DECT 6.0 technology makes the wireless transmission virtually static free, and provides a very long range: I was able to walk three doors down before losing the signal.

Call quality is good — better than expected, really – due to the DECT 6.0 technology. This same technology also makes this a WiFi-friendly phone, since it’s not competing for the same wireless spectrum. The speakerphone function has a nice volume, albeit with a slightly tinny output. Intercom calls are clear and powerful. As a phone, this is a fine product. I didn’t test the answering machine portion because no one ever calls me.

The dedicated Goog-411 button, featured prominently on the product packaging, is simply a speed dial for 1-800-GOOG-411, Google’s free directory assistance offering. I doubt anyone will buy this phone just because that button is there, but it is handy for folks like me who always forget whether it’s 1-800-GOOG-411 or 1-800-411-GOOG. It saves you having to use a programmable speed dial slot, and from navigating through the menu to select it from your phone book. If you haven’t used Goog-411 yet, give it a try: I’ve been using it more and more lately — especially when out and about — because it’s often faster to call Goog-411 than to fire up my mobile browser.

Annoyances

You can’t activate other buttons immediately after ending a call: you must wait for the phone to stop showing your last call info before it will respond to input. And although the phone keeps a log of incoming and outgoing calls, it does not store call duration for these calls. It’s not a big deal, but it’s also not that much more data to store, really. Cell phones record that information, and it’s quite often a useful thing to know, so it would be nice to see it added to landline phones.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a new phone, this is a fine option to consider. The DECT 6.0 technology provides great range and signal strength. Call quality is okay and the dedicated speakerphone unit is handy to have, if a little tinny. The Goog-411 button is not a particular selling point, but I suspect it’ll get more use than you might anticipate which makes it a good addition.

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