Sunday, December 21, 2014

BellSouth 8801-X Single Line Phone

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Note: I wrote this review a while ago and had to rewrite it for the past tense, since I don't usually use this phone any more. It is still in use at my house, but if I change tense, this is why. I also have the 8801-X. The only difference is the color of the phone.

I like to look through the Sunday circulars to see if I can get any good deals. Towards the end of one Summer, I came across this phone. Office Max was selling it for $10 and offering $10 in rebates. (All I had to do was pay tax on it.) The phone had caller ID and I figured that will all of the people calling me with incredible business opportunities, I just had to have this product. (Note to people with incredible business opportunities: please don't call me. I generally won't pick up if I don't know who you are.)

I couldn't wait to rip this product out of the box and set it up. The first thing that I have to warn you about is that not all phone plans come with caller ID. I have no idea what will happen if you don't have caller ID included in your phone plan. It's possible that the caller ID function won't work. It's also possible that you'll automatically get charged for the service. I have no way of knowing. There was nothing on the box that would indicate what would happen if I didn't have caller ID and I hooked the phone up. Fortunately, the phone plan in my house already has caller ID included. I had just never purchased a phone with caller ID yet.

That being said, my first priority was getting the phone set up. It's like a normal phone in that you just plug the unit into a phone jack using a normal phone cord. It has the standard number pad and everything. The caller ID is in a small display on the back of the phone handle. You don't even have to set the time and date. When the first person calls, the phone does this automatically. (I don't really know how. I'm just happy that the time and date are correct.)

The next thing I wanted to know was how I could program names into the phone. Again, this is done automatically. It seems that the phone (or the phone service) can access information on who's calling. When a person calls from within the county, it shows the phone number and the name of the person on the phone bill. If Jane Smith calls you and it's John Smith that's on the bill, the caller ID will show John Smith. Pay phones generally show up as “pay phone” and companies will show as the company name.

It seems that callers from outside of my area or is using a cell phone, it usually shows the city. When my father calls on his cell phone, it just shows “Miami, FL”. When I was using this phone, my brother was going to college in Ithica. At the time, he was using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone. The number was a Syracuse number, so it would show as “Syracuse, NY”. Occasionally, I would get a call that showed as (000) 000-0000 and is listed as a blocked call or an unregistered user. This usually means that it's a telemarketer or a recorded message. I usually don't pick up.

If you get home and you missed a call, it will record the incoming phone calls. (I don't remember, but I think that the phone is supposed to have a memory for either 50 or 100 numbers, but it seems to have stopped at 70.) This feature doesn't work if you have call waiting and get a call while you're on the phone with someone else. The phone has to actually ring to be able to get the number. If you do get a call, a little red light will flash and the display will show number of new calls. You can scroll down and see who has called while you were away. You have the option of keeping the number or deleting it. (You have to press the delete button twice, presumably to keep you from accidentally deleting a number.)

There's even a redial feature. The phone has two buttons: Local and L/D. (I'm assuming that L/D stands for long distance.) When trying to use this feature to call a long distance number, the long-distance button worked fine. However, when I tried to call a local number by hitting “local,” it doesn't work. The phone put a 1 in front of the number. It's a minor inconvenience, but it's not worth returning the phone since I know most of the local numbers I need to dial. The problem may be caused by the fact that I live in a county that has two area codes. (This means that we have to dial the area code before all calls.) It's also possible that it's because the phone is programmed poorly. After all, I got it for 70?.

I tend to go with the second statement since I've noticed one other problem with the phone. There's a green light for voicemail. We do actually have an answering service, which some might call voicemail. I'd assume that the light is supposed to indicate when someone has left me a message. So far, the light has never started flashing, even though I have received quite a number of messages. I have no idea what this light is for. It's no big deal since I can normally tell when I pick up the phone. (The dial tone sounds different.)

The phone works for the most part. The caller ID works and I can use the phone to place and receive calls like I would with any other phone. I still go through the Sunday circulars and I've seen Office Max offering the same deal. I've thought about getting this phone for my grandmother, but I don't know that she'd ever use the caller ID function. I'd definitely recommend this product to a friend.

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