Cell phones may be moving us further and further away from using conventional landlines, but there’s no question that the convenience they offer comes with a quite literal price attached. For instance, with most companies, even the cheapest cell phone plan will set you back far more than a full-featured landline with unlimited nationwide calling. For those who need to scrimp and save, sticking to landlines make a lot of sense if you can stomach the lack of features.
VTech’s new IS6110 makes the prospect of using a landline much more tolerable by adding in one of the handiest options from the quicker-paced cell-phone world: Instant messaging. It moves to the top of the somewhat stagnant market for cordless phones by pushing them to a feature level comparable with many cell phones, and does it without squandering all the money you stand to save from using it.
Not surprising for a phone that functionally mimics a cell phone, the IS6110 adopts a decidedly cell-inspired design with a short stature and full QWERTY keyboard, making it look almost like a BlackBerry. At only 151 grams, it also approaches cell-phone-like lightness. And even rarer for an in-home cordless phone, it offers a full color LCD, a necessity for IM that most of its competitors simply have no use for.
Image Courtesy of VTech
The IS6110 base station provides its voice capabilities by plugging into a standard phone outlet, and manages to sneak IM aboard by simply tethering to an Internet-connected computer with a USB cable. This bypasses the need for a separate Wi-Fi router by allowing both voice and IMs to ride on the same DECT 6.0 cordless phone frequency (technology which can be seen, from a marketing perspective, as the successor to 5.8GHz.) The phone’s minimalistic charging cradle is actually a separate piece from the base station, giving it a smaller footprint on a desk or table.
After hooking the phone up, users can connect to MSN Messenger, Windows Live Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger to send messages from anywhere in the home. So rather than dragging a whole laptop out to the couch to stay in touch with friends while you watch the latest episode of Lost, you can tap out IMs from the lightweight VTech, and field incoming calls with the same device.
Although the company gives no official estimation of range, DECT 6.0 technology has been known to sometimes deliver up to 650 feet of reception indoors, and even more outside. Battery life, however, is not quite as impressive. Since VTech opted for cheaper rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries, rather than the lithium-ion models found in cell phones, battery life takes a significant blow. According to VTech, the IS6110 delivers an acceptable seven hours of talk time on one charge, but that figure drops to just three hours while IMing, or two when using the speakerphone.
Because potential buyers can get every feature the IS6110 has, and more, by moving to a cell phone, price remains its strongest selling point, and VTech delivers with a retail price of only $99.95. That’s not only cheap for a cell-phone substitute, it’s affordable even by cordless phone standards. So whether you’re looking to peel your IM-addicted kids away from the family workstation or just want a lightweight way to IM without pouring $100 a month into cell phone bills, Vtech’s IS6110 may be an ideal solution. More information can be found at VTech.