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Review: Clarity C900 cell phone for seniors

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Quick Version: The idea behind the Clarity C900 mobile phone is sound – big keys, bright display, loud ringer, emergency call button – but the interface might be a bit feature-heavy and confusing for most elderly users.

clarity

Overview and Features:

  • Unlocked GSM cell phone
  • Large, monochrome, backlit display with large fonts
  • Four main buttons, large number keys
  • Volume (speaker, ringer) amplified up to 20 decibels
  • Emergency help button on back of phone calls five contacts in a row when pressed
  • Built-in flashlight
  • Three hours talk time
  • MSRP of $269.99

Pros:

The Clarity C900 has huge keys, a super loud ringer, and a bright orange backlight that can likely be seen from space. It also includes a big red recessed emergency button on the back of the phone that, when held down for a few seconds, will call up to five emergency contacts in a row. If your favorite elder is “hip” and “with it”, the C900 even offers niceties such as text messaging, call forwarding, birthday reminders, an alarm clock, and a calculator.

Call quality is loud (very loud) and clear, and the ringer – also very loud – should be sufficient for the hard-of-hearing. If it’s not quite loud enough, the screen flashes and the handset can be set to vibrate during an incoming call, too.

Cons:

Functionally, the C900 is reminiscent of an old-school cell phone from the mid-90s. That’s fine, except that cell phones from that time, while not as advanced as today’s phones, were likely still too complicated for old people. The user interface on the C900 contains multiple menus and everything is presented within two different menu systems depending upon whether or not the screen is slid up or down.

What’s more, the slide-up screen requires a fair amount of force in order to expose the keypad (I can’t imagine someone with arthritis opening it) and, once open, the default menu selection is “SMS Messages”. Granted, you can just start dialing a number straight from the keypad but it still makes things a little confusing. The “Phonebook” selection is two down from “SMS Messages” – you’d think elderly people might want to access their contacts more often than they’d want to send text messages.

These drawbacks aren’t insurmountable by any means, but they’d likely take some initial coaching from a child or grandchild as things aren’t altogether intuitive. If there’s a youngster around to do the initial setup, enter some contacts, and input the emergency contact numbers, it’d make things a lot easier on everyone involved.

Halvsies:

The fact that the Clarity C900 is sold unlocked could either be a pro or a con. On the one hand, it makes the price of the phone $269 which is expensive for a device for someone who might be resisting the whole portable electronics movement. On the other hand, there aren’t any sneaky, tricky contracts to get locked into. So grandma can snail mail T-Mobile or AT&T a check each month for prepaid service (or whatever old people to do send money and pay bills).

Also, the phone is built like a brick shithouse. It feels like a bar of soap, which is good because it seems to be pretty durable. It won’t fit well into pants pockets, though.

Recommendation:

The C900 is good in concept but would likely require an above-average level of expertise from its owner. That being said, the super loud volume and big keys make the phone a good choice for anyone that’s hard of hearing or has poor eyesight.

Clarity C900 [ClarityProducts.com]

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