Good communication is the foundation of any solid relationship. Unfortunately, in my household, the phones are making it not easier, but more difficult, to stay in touch.
The problem: there’s no real system (i.e. good method) for handling incoming telephone calls. Upstairs in my home office my phone works alone; downstairs, the family phones take all the personal calls. Never do the two phones cross paths.
I’d really like them to, though. It’d be so much more convenient to be able to pick up a call coming through on the family line from my office phone. Likewise, when I’m in the kitchen grabbing a cup of coffee I’d prefer to answer business calls from the kitchen phone instead of running up two flights of stairs to my office to try to catch the call.
I know a telephone system would make my life a whole lot easier, so I thought I’d talk to an expert to see what features are important to look for. Here’s a top six lineup from Bill Savino, Panasonic marketing manager for business telephone systems:
Wiring: Making calls over the Internet is one feature that’s hot right now, but make sure your house is wired to support the technology.
Add ons: Telephone systems can do more than support multiple lines. Be sure your system can also support accessories like door phones, surveillance cameras and electronic door locks.
Automation: Telephones have always been able to integrate with home automation systems; however, some systems now make that easier by displaying complete home control menus on their the screens of the telephone handsets.
Expandability: You never know when you might want to add another extension to your system. Be sure the system you pick provides enough growing room.
Business features: Even if you don’t have a full-fledged home office, business features can come in handy. You’ll be able to keep your business and personal voicemails separate and forward calls to your cell phone, for example.
Temporary disconnect: If you’re phone is ringing off the hook and you’d just like some peace and quiet, phones that offer a “night mode” can be temporarily disconnected from the system. You could put your kitchen on night mode while you’re having dinner with your family but leave the other phones on, for example.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.