The Features You Want In Your Home Office Phone

Your telephone is a crucial, but easily overlooked, piece of equipment in your home office.

For years, I limped along with an old cordless phone. I’m not sure why I never thought to get a new one; it was just one of those $80 expenses that kept slipping to the bottom of the list. In retrospect, that decision cost me much more than $80.

During one crucial conversation about a project at a New York City publication, the battery went dead. Because it was a conference call, I couldn’t easily call right back – I ended up missing the rest of the conversation, blaming it on “Verizon problems.”

(I’d apologize to Verizon for the misplaced blame, but its customer service has been so difficult to deal with on so many occasions that I don’t feel an apology is necessary).

After that cordless completely died, I bought a Vtech – which has turned out to be a great investment. (There’s a $99 deal on it today).

Here are the features I’ve found extremely useful – and which you may want to consider when you are purchasing.

• Built-in answering machine. I opt not to use the one on my phone; rather, I use a cloud-based phone mail from Verizon because it’s easier to access when I am away from home.

• Clear speaker phone. As far as I can tell, there’s no difference between the quality of my calls when I have the speaker on or off.

• Voice announcement. I don’t think I can live without this feature now that I’ve had it. True, the announcements are comical sometimes: The phone translates the area code 703 as ZOE when it verbalizes it. But over time, I’ve come to recognize the way the phone pronounces certain regular callers. I can tell if it will be worthwhile to sprint across the house to reach the phone.

• Call quality. This is an underappreciated feature – but in an age of fuzzy mobile phone calls, I find it a relief to speak via a landline – and I expect others, do, too.

• Earpiece. I spent many years holding a phone between my shoulder and my ear while I was typing and, no surprise, developed shoulder and neck pain. The Vtech phone comes with an earpiece, which, again, callers have assured me makes no difference to the call quality.

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