If you work in a small office, home office or just need a comprehensive phone system you may want to look into Cybergenie. It handles 2 incoming lines and 10 handsets, it’s wireless (2.4 GHz), the handsets are very compact and the features are compelling.

Out of the box it took no time at all to get up and running. Install the software, plug the incoming lines into the base station and connect it via USB to your PC. A configuration wizard steps you through the process of setting up the incoming lines and assigning handsets etc. I had the system operational in less than half an hour. The small Ericsson handsets have a nice readable screen and rest in a handy charging cradle. The base station should be located centrally away from possible interference. This can be a bit difficult since it connects via USB to your PC which is probably located amongst a whole pile of electronic devices (at least mine is). I couldn’t get near the advertised 900 ft. range which I suspect is due to interference from these devices and other less than perfect conditions.

System features are extensive and the voice recognition is very handy. You can set up all of your contacts so that they can be accessed by voice command. Most features can be accessed by voice or menu or keystrokes. The learning curve can be a bit steep because of all the options but that is the nature of these new technologies. They can do so much that the instructions get long and complicated. I tend to learn what I need to survive and then gradually add features as I discover the need for them.

Here is a list of features:
Small Office and Home Office Micro PBX

* Virtual Receptionist answers every call professionally even when you are not there
* Sophisticated voice mail allows unlimited storage, archiving and forwarding of voice messages.
* Voice mail can be easily integrated with your E-mail via Microsoft Outlook
* Flexible user interface allows for menu, touch tone or even speech driven navigation of telephony or messaging
* Speaker independent software lets anyone in your office or family navigate with their voice
* Use CyberGenie to check messages, change greetings or call anyone in your address book simply by speaking into any phone
* When you are out of the office, simply call back into CyberGenie and access your messages at any time

Other Advanced Telephony Features

* Sets up conference calls, transfers calls, routes calls and accesses private users’ voice mail boxes, all with the touch of a button or the sound of your voice
* Allows a call to be put on hold and retrieved by any handset
* Call progress screen allows users to screen incoming calls and interact with all calls on the system
* Can route calls to a second handset before they are transferred to voice mail
* Call logs of inbound and outbound calls – perfect for client billing, usage monitoring and bill verification
* Private mailboxes for voice mail and e-mail, each with customized greetings and notifications option

Multi-line/Multi-user System

* Handles up to 2 telephone lines
* Expands to up to 10 cordless handsets, with no additional wiring
* Provides up to 20 private mailboxes add users quickly and easily

Centralized Voice Mail and E-mail

* Combines all voice mails, e-mails and memos in a single mailbox that can be accessed through the PC or from any telephone in the world
* Supports integration with Microsoft® Outlook® 97, 98 and 2000

Remote Message Notification

* Calls you anytime, anywhere, when voice mails or e-mails arrive
* With its’ powerful speech interface capability, CyberGenie will even read emails back to you

2.4 GHz Digital Cordless Handset

* Digital spread spectrum technology
* Excellent voice quality and optimized security
* Extended range (up to 900 feet)
* Download up to 100 contacts from your PC to your handset
* Caller ID
* Hands-free headset compatible
* 15 hours of talk time/110 hours of standby time
* Menu-driven functionality

Nobu In Wall PCs
My main hesitation with a system such as this is the reliability (not of the phone system … of the PC). Fortunately the system still operates in stand alone mode when the PC crashes (which it does) although many of the features won’t work without the PC running. The Cybergenie software runs in the background and uses a fair chunk of system resources so you need at least a 233MHz CPU (300MHz recommended) with 64MB of RAM and 60MB of available hard disk space (140MB recommended).

One small complaint. You can only use a PC modem to receive faxes. I would have liked to be able to plug in my stand alone fax machine … OK so I’m still a bit old fashioned … I like to see paper spew onto the floor sometimes.

The system is advertised at $399 (one handset) and each additional set is listed at $130. The optional headset is a beauty … light as a feather and comfortable. If you do a lot of yakking … spend the $40 for this.

OK so now we’re spoiled around here … tiny wireless phones that talk to us when we don’t know what we want to do. It’ll be hard to send these back 🙁