Analog (versus digital):Wireless transmissions (such as with a cordless telephone) are made possible by using a radio wave to "carry" the "intelligence" (ie the conversation) being transmitted. With an analog signal, the intelligence is transmitted "in clear" -- if you can pick up the signal, you can hear the conversation. A digital signal has the intelligence first converted into a stream of numbers -- it is these numbers that are transmitted on the carrier wave. Even if you pick up the signal, you would then need to re-convert the numbers back into sound in order to understand the conversation. This makes digital more secure. In addition, it is less noisy, because only the conversation is converted and transmitted -- not the noise.
Announcement(s): With respect to answering machines, this is what the machine plays to incoming callers. Also known as the "greeting." Some machines may allow the user to concurrently record several versions of their announcement and to select which one is currently played for callers.
Any-key talk/Any-key answer: A feature of some newer cordless phones that allows the user to activate the handset by pressing any button, not just the talk button. Very useful for phones using a belt clip.AT&T: See Lucent Technologies Auto scan: see Channel(s)
Backlit: Referring to LCD displays that have their own internal light, therby improving visibility under adverse lighting conditions.
Battery technology: Cordless telephone products use one of three types of battery: Nickel Cadmium (also called "NiCad"), the most common type, Lead Acid (a few models), and Nickel Metal Hydride (also called "NiMH"), used mostly in high-end phones such as the Panasonic Gigarange (TM) series.
Lead Acid is the oldest technology and has the advantage that it can go through many charge/discharge cycles without deterioration. It can also be safely recharged without being fully discharged. However, it is relatively heavy for the amount of power produced.
NiMH is a new technology, often found in cellular phones, laptop computers, and high-end cordless products. NiMH is expensive for the amount of power produced, but it can be safely recharged without being fully discharged.
NiCad technology dates from the fifties and is the most widely-used technology in cordless products. It's relatively inexpensive and lightweight. Its main disadvantage is that it exhibits the "memory effect" and will gradually lose its ability to hold a charge. This problem can be reduced if the battery is fully discharged each time before being recharged, a practice we recommend to cordless phone users.
Caller ID: A service provided by most local telephone companies that allows users who subscrbe to display an incoming caller's phone number (and, in some areas, name as well), provided the recipient has appropriate equipment to display the caller ID info.
Call waiting ID: An enhanced caller ID service that allows users who subscribe to receive caller ID information for call wiaiting callers as well as the active caller. Not all caller ID devices can display call waiting ID and, in most areas, call waiting ID is an extra-cost service on top of the cost for regular caller ID. Consult your local telephone company business office for details.
Caller ID blocking: A service provided in most areas that have caller ID allowing the user to block his own caller ID information from being transmitted either on a per call basis or on all calls sent from his number. Consult your local telephone company business office for details and fees if any.
Channel(s): With respect to cordless phones, refers to the possible communications channels that can be used between the handset and the base of the phone. If one channel has poor reception, another channel can be used. Scanning or autoscanning refers to the a phone's ability to automatically locate clear channels.
Centrex: A service of many telephone companies aimed at allowing multi-site businesses to tie together their phones. Some businesses use Centrex in conjunction with an electronic phone system while others connect Centrex lines directly to single-line phones. In the llater case, phones with hold, flash, and programmable feature keys can be most useful.
CLASS service: "Custom Local Area Subscriber Services" A collection of telephone-company provided services, including caller ID, call forwarding, call tracing, distinctive ring, etc.
Darn!! (also "Oh Darn!!"): Expression usually heard when you realize you've paid more because you didn't buy your phones from Phone Source.
Decibel (dB): a measure of sound; 1dB is the smallest variation in sound that the average human ear can detect.
Digital (versus analog): With respect to cordless phones, see Analog. With respect to answering machines, signifies that the recording medium is a digital chip rather than tape. All newer answering machines are digital and have several advantages, including no moving parts, consistent sound quality over the life of the product, and user-friendly CD-player-like operation (one touch repeats, one touch skips, individual message erase, etc.).
DECT: DECT stands for "Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications" and denotes a radio technology suited for voice data and networking applications with range requirements up to a few 100 m.
Distinctive ring service: A phone company service that provides two or three phone numbers on a single line. Each number has a different (distinctive) ring pattern. Equipment designed to work with the service can handle calls according to the ring pattern. A fax with distinctive ring recognition, for example, can be programmed to only answer when the fax number has been dialed.
Dual keypads: Some cordless phones will have a keypad on the cordless handset and a keypad on the charging base as well -- thereby allowing the base to be used as an additional telephone. See also Keypad
Earmuff: On a headset, the foam or leather pad that covers the ear portion of the headset for comfort. Usually replaceable as needed.
FAX: short for "facsimile," a method for transmitting text and graphics over a phone line. Also refers to the equipment for doing so and the output thereby produced.
Full Duplex: With respect to speakerphones, refers to the ability for both parties to speak at the same time without clipping of the signal. Most speakerphones are half duplex -- the line needs to "turn around" after one party stops speaking before the other party can speak, which can lead to a disjointed, unnatural cadence to the conversation. Some newer products have a digital duplex speakerphone that gives a more natural sound than half duplex units.
Greeting(s): see Announcement(s)
Gigahertz: 1,000,000,000 (1 billion) hertz. see also Hertz.
Half Duplex: see Full Duplex
Handset: The part of the telephone you hold in your hand, esp. with reference to a cordless phone, the cordless handset.
Headset: A telephone device worn on the head (like headphones) that plugs into an existing telephone to provide "handsfree" service. There are also cordless headsets that operate independently of a phone or in conjuction with an existing phone to allow the user mobility while carrying on a phone conversation.
Hertz: Wireless devices operate at various frequencies, expressed in Hertz, KiloHertz (1000 Hertz), MegaHertz (1,000,000 Hertz), or GigaHertz (1,000,000,000 Hertz).. Wireless telephone devices operate in the multiple-megahertz range.
Intercom: With respect to cordless phones, refers to the capability to call between the handset and the base of the same phone. Intercom can be one-way or two-way. With respect to business telephones and phone systems, refers to the ability to call from one phone to another within the same system.
Jog dial: A recent innovation on some digital cameras, fax machines, answering machines, and other products that allows quick access to information and menus through a dial that can be quickly operated with one hand. Used to scroll through speed-dial lists, access menu items, etc.
Keypad: On a telephone, this refers to the set of pushbuttons used for dialing. See also Dual keypad
Keyphone: Also "key system phones." Business telephones specially engineered to work with a particular telephone system. Each manufacturer designs its own keyphone models which work only with that manufacturer's phone systems. Keyphones usually have buttons for accessing outside lines and buttons for special features such as transfer, conference, hold, etc. Some keyphones have speakers for handsfree operation and LCD displays.
Key system: Loosely an electronic telephone system. More specifically, the type of phone system where each phone has special buttons for line appearances and special feature access keys.
Kilohertz: 1,000 (1 thousand) hertz. see also Hertz.
LCD (Display): Liquid Chrystal Display. A view screen included on some telephones and answering machines which gives useful operational information. On a telephone, for example, it may show the date, time, number dialed, and call duration. If the phone has caller ID, it may also show the name and number of each incoming call. A "backlit" LCD has built-in lighting, which makes it more visible under inadequate room lighting. A multi-line LCD will be able to show more information at one time than a one-line display.
Lucent Technologies: Spun off from the equipment manafucaturing and research divisions of AT&T, Lucent is a world leader in new technology. Also a leader in production of small/home office business telephones, cordless phones, answering machines, and telephone systems for all size businesses. Referred to on our web site as either AT&T or Lucent. See also AT&T
Mailbox(es): With respect to answering machines, refers to the capability of segregating incoming messages into several (usually 4) cubby-holes. The caller can "press 1 to leave a message for Mary, press 2 to leave a message for Bill" etc. Mailboxes may in turn have their own greetings or not, depending on the answering machine. Machines with mailboxes usually offer users the ability of playing messages from a particular mailbox when calling in remotely for messages.
Megahertz: 1,000,000 (1 million) hertz. see also Hertz.
Message transfer: An answering machine feature that will call the owner at a remote location (for example, a car phone or pager) to let them know they have new messages. Also known as "Pager Call."
Modem: A contraction of "modulate" and "demodulate," the two processes that a modem uses to transmit and receive data over a phone line.
Monitor set: See Speakerphone
NiCad batteries: see Battery technology
Nickel Cadmium batteries: see Battery technology
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries: see Battery technology
Noise-cancelling: With respect to headsets, refers to special microphone and/or circuitry that reduces background noise transmitted by the headset user. Recommended for headset use in noisy areas.
One-touch speed-dial: A feature that allows the user to dial a speed-dial number by pressing only one button. Contrasted with speed-dial where the user has to press some sort of speed-dial recall button followed by a 1 or 2-digit speed-dial location number. See also Speed-dial
Page/find: A button on cordless phones that makes the handset ring so you can locate it when it's misplaced.
Pager call: See Message transfer.
Panasonic: One of the world's largest manufacturers of consumer electronics products. One of the foremost makes and innovators in the cordless telephone, answering machine, and commercial telephone system markets.
PBX: Originally stood for "private branch exchange." Loosely an electronic business telephone system capable of handling several lines and several phones. See also Key system
Plain paper: With respect to fax machines, indicates those that can use regular copier paper rather than the more expensive and fragile thermal paper. Faxes received on a plain paper machine are usually sharper and last longer when stored.
Quick-disconnect: On a headset, refers to a special plug that allows the user to quickly connect/disconnect the headset to/from the telephone it is attached to. Allows user to walk around the office w/o actually removing the headset (looks chic in the lunchroom).
RJ-11: Phone company jargon for the usual 4-conductor phone jack with the two center pins live.
Room monitor: An answering machine feature that allows the owner to call in remotely (eg while on vacation) and listen to sounds in the room where the answering machine is located.
Speakerphone: Allows the user to have a coversation handsfree. Speakerphone has a loudspeaker and a microphone. A one-way speakerphone or monitor phone has a speaker, but no microphone, allowing the user to hear but not talk back. Some cordless phones will be listed as having a "speakerphone on the base;" this feature allows use of the base as a telephone for receiving calls even when the cordless handset is elsewhere. If we list a cordless phone as having "dual keypads" or a "speakerphone with keypad on the base," then the base unit can receive and originate calls handsfree.
Speed-dial: A feature found on most phones allowing the user to store and then later recall frequently-dialed numbers. Most phones have 10-20 speed-dial capacity and some business feature phones may have 30+ speed-dial capacity. See also One-touch speed-dial
Surge protector: A device used to protect electrical/electronic equipment from power surges. Not just for protecting the AC electrical line, some newer units can also protect equipment against surges coming in via the phone line, cable TV line, ISDN lines, etc.
All surge protectors are not alike, differing in the amount of surge they can absorb and how quickly they can react to a surge. Engineering and manufacturing quality are also an issue. Look for surge protectors with a lifetime warranty on the protector and a damage insurance warranty on the connected equipment.
Phone Source recommends AC and phone line protection on cordless phones, answering machines, computers, modems, and other expensive electronic gear.
Telephone: A device, invented in 19th-century Boston, which has revolutionized communications.
Ultra Charge:A feature of recent-model Panasonic cordless phones that shortens the battery re-charging time, usually to between 3 and 4 hours.
Uniden: Maker of the first commercially-available cordless phone. An innovator in cordless phone technology and 900 MHz technology. Makers of police scanners and radar detectors.
Uninterruptible power supply: see UPS
UPS: An uninterruptible power supply, basically a battery pack and charging unit that can keep electronic equipment running during a power failure. Strongly recommended for computers and voicemail systems.
Vtech: A pioneer of 900 MHz cordless phones. First to put headset jacks and caller ID in cordless phones. Also maker of children's computers.
Voice tube: On headsets, a plastic tube that conducts the user's voice up to a microphone mounted inside the headset. Often replaceable.
Zebra: A striped African ruminant quadraped that looks somewhat like a horse.
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