Monday, June 8, 2009

Bluetooth POTS gateway, take 2

A while ago, we replaced our primary AT&T nee PacBell home phone line with Vonage. And it was good. But Vonage's pricing structure is not really significantly different from Cell phones, at least when compared to POTS lines (remember having a separate long distance company? *shudder*).

One big feature I like about home phones is having a bunch of cordless handsets scattered around the house. Cell phones couldn't do that.... until now.

A new class of device has appeared called a Bluetooth Phone line gateway. It installs between the incoming phone line and your telephone. You pair your bluetooth-enabled cell phone with it, and while your cell phone is in range and linked up, any calls you receive on your cell phone will make your house phone ring. And outgoing calls can be made through your cell phone.

The first one I attempted to use a few months ago was the XLink ITC-BTTN. It had real reliability issues, so it was dismissed.

Well, I've given the category one more try. This time, the flavor of choice is the Cell2Tel Gateway. It's only been a couple of hours, but initial tests have been better than the XLink.

Watch this space for more updates on the review as time goes by.


Anonymous said...

I loath cell phones and couldn't imagine using one in place of a traditional home phone line. When cell phones were analog they were fairly good but since going digital they blow big time. I hate having to ask people to repeat themselves because I can't understand what they are saying through the garbled digital compression. I have never used a cell phone (cheap or expensive) with any carrier that even remotely approached the sound quality of a traditional phone line.

Nope, using cell phones for everything may be trendy but you won't catch this audiophile using them for anything other than emergencies.

Nick said...

The beauty of using a device like this is that you can leave your cell phone plugged in and charging in the location of your house that gets the best possible reception.

Cell phone and VoIP services thoroughly p3wn POTS lines when it comes to call pricing. I can call anywhere in the United States basically for free on my cell phone. By contrast, calling Redwood City from Santa Clara - barely 20 miles - on a POTS line costs so many cents per minute.

Nick said...

Oh, and if your house is made of Stucco, or has aluminum siding, or has a copper roof, or any of a variety of other RF shielding materials, then your indoor reception is going to be terrible. That's just a law of nature.

For those situations, the fix is either a femotcell, if your carrier offers one (Spring and Verizon do now, AT&T will likely begin offering one this year), or a repeater, like the WiEx XY510. We have the latter and we have 5 bars inside.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree on cell phones being better priced than land lines. Unless you go pre-paid the cheapest cell phone plan is around $40/month. AT&T is offering land-line service with all the calling features + voice mail + no charge "long distance" for $40 / month. It's the same price as a cell phone plan, same call anywhere for "free" service and superior call quality/reliability.

I'm set up with this plan + DSL + pre-paid cell phone service and my total monthly bill for all of this is less than what a single iPhone account would cost.

Nick said...

Our vonage line is a bit more than half that $40 cost, but we have a measured rate line that is under our DSL for the alarm and direcTV receivers to use and that is hooked up to an emergency phone in the garage. It costs about $10/mo, but making calls on it further than about 20 miles away costs. It's encouraging that unlimited calling has made its way to ordinary POTS service - that wasn't the case when I went with VoIP. But in any event, I challenge that you can get all of what you said for less than an iPhone. The iPhone costs $69.99/mo. The POTS line you've described you say costs $40. El-cheapo DSL can be had for $20. You now have only $9/mo to spend on your disposable cell phone. I'll be honest that I haven't researched that market much, but it would be surprising that you'd get much from that.

Anonymous said...

That's about right! Actually the pre-paid cell phone costs me $8.33 / month ($25 every three months or $100 / year).

Of course this configuration isn't appropriate for people who have their cell phones glued to their heads all day or find it necessary to send 300 text messages to all their facebook "friends". I use my cell phone for emergencies / convenience and to check email etc... $8.33 is a good price for my purposes.

P.S. Love the iPhone but would never buy one because of the contract price. Thinking about getting an iPod touch instead

Nick said...

Well, I don't have the phone glued to my head, but as a portable data tool, it is unsurpassed. But hey, you've found something that works for you, and I won't knock it. My original post sort of follows my musing as to whether or not we need to keep the Vonage line given that we have all the minutes we need on our cell phones, and that we can use our cell phones via our existing house phones when we're not out.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article you got here. I'd like to read a bit more concerning this matter. The only thing it would also be great to see here is a photo of any gadget.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you want to see a photo? It is a plastic box.

Use Google and you'll find everything you could ever ask for.

Robert said...

So its been just over a year. Are you still using the Cell2Tel? Any more thoughts? Xlink is now claiming support for Skype, any more thoughts?

Nick said...

I don't really have an update. We've had a lot of problems with the AT&T Microcell, and in an effort to troubleshoot it, I took the Cell2Tel out of service. But even though that didn't fix anything, I haven't put it back.