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Arkon Networks Parafone

First generation 900MHz SOHO telephone

by Shawn Barnett

November 2001, Pen Computing 42

Because many have heard of the VisorPhone, it's tough to explain to people just what the Parafone is, even though it's very simple: it's a Springboard module that turns your Visor into a cordless phone. Not cellular, but 900MHz cordless, the kind that work in your home. Its intended market is the small office/ home office worker who is constantly up and around. In order to watch the employees (or kids) they often have to leave their desk behind, where their contact data reside. With the Parafone, they bring both their handheld and their cordless phone along for the ride. It comes complete with a headset and a charging base station/HotSync cradle. The combination of Visor and cradle looks handsome on the desktop. Because it's not designed for the Visor Prism, the cradle doesn't charge the Visor Pro or Prism; only the phone module is charged. It will work with the rechargeable Visors, but it will not HotSync or charge in the Parafone cradle. The interface is the same as VisorPhone's, with speed dial buttons, keypad, and a record of incoming and outgoing calls and their duration. Audio quality is good, though mine was a little buzzy. Visors are known to be noisy, so it could be that; I also work around a lot of computers. People I've called do not seem to notice the buzzing. A couple of things that could use improvement are ring volume, a bugaboo that the VisorPhone also faces-and something the VisorPhone does have is missing: hardware buttons. While it's great that during a conversation you can look up a phone number, having to find the Parafone application again so that you can hang up can be problematic. A hardware button would make this more bearable. Likewise, you have to switch to the keypad screen to dial numbers for voice mail applications. It's great that it's there, but it's not the best solution. What is great is to be able to dial direct from the Address Book with only a couple of taps. For this reason alone, the Parafone is worth the minor inconveniences. When you've been away, the Parafone also tells you how many calls you've missed and who called, using caller ID. If you find yourself looking for your cordless phone, then your Visor to get the number, the Parafone may be for you. US$119. -Shawn Barnett

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