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Casio PhoneMate TC-950
900 Mhz Telephone
by Jim Bennett (April and June 1998)

The Casio PhoneMate TC-950 900 MHz Digital Spectrum telephone is the first and only 900MHz digital spread spectrum cordless phones with a digital answering machine to reach the market. After previewing this model at the winter Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas, in January, I evaluated an early production model. I evaluated a later production model and performance seemed even better.

My first impression was that this model has the longest range of any cordless phone that I have ever used. The setup was straight forward, the controls were intuitive and well laid out. The solid state DSP chip allows up to 14 minutes of record time, but for my business needs, it would be nice to have a longer record time. If modular upgrades were available, as long as an hour, this would allow me to use this unit when I go on long trips and can't check the recorder every day.

When I tested the range capabilities of this unit, I put the base station on my computer desk, away from the office high rise windows. I had no problem in reaching the base station from street level. When I walked a half block away and behind some wood framed buildings, I still had no problems. Moving beyond the one city block range, behind a steel high-rise building, I still had no problems making contact and had good sound quality! When I tried the two block range, among city buildings, performance was affected, but still usable. Therefore, it appears that the real useable limit, in a city environment, is not much more than two blocks away, which I think is quite good.

In a building's interior, the amount and placement of steel in the building appears to significantly effect the range, but this phone was still quite useable. The sound quality was acceptable up to eight floors away. Performance fell rapidly near stairways with steel reinforcements or elevators. In wood frame homes, the range and sound quality should not be a problem.

The feature I like the best was the lack of buzzing or crackling interference from competing electronics. Controls and set up were good, but you can't be heavy handed with the erase button when reviewing long strings of messages as sometimes multiple messages were unintentionally erased on the early production unit No problems were noted on the later production unit. All quality levels were high and the desk footprint (7x7.5x3 inches) is a reasonable size. For those Internet surfers with only one line, a discreet "line in use" led indicates when computer software has refused to disconnect after a session.

The TC950 lists for $199, which only slightly higher than some other analog and digital phones. Families, with wide ranging kids, can use paging which is included with the intercom feature. This product deserves serious consideration for your SOHO high tech communications and computer center.

Pros
Outstanding Range
Easy setup
Intuitive controls

Cons
Short incoming message time (only 14 minutes)
Erase button too sensitive on early production models

Copyright 1998 Jim Bennett All rights reserved.

   
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