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If you want a phone that is just a phone
Aug 12, 2012 (Updated Sep 14, 2012)
Review by Chris McCallister
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Sound quality, ease of use
Cons:Skimpy instructions, some screen icons tiny
The Bottom Line: I recommend this phone for anyone with vision, hearing, and/or finger dexterity impairments, although some screen icons are tiny.
Approximately ten years ago, the agency where I work instituted a policy requiring all clinicians to carry a cell phone. I purchased a Nokia 6340i. It served me well until about two months ago, when it began to not hold a charge well and to do a few other things that were warning signs that it was time for it to retire. I decided to stay with Nokia, but go to their new top-of-line model, the Lumia 900 smart phone. Unfortunately, I have markedly impaired finger dexterity and strength, and I was unable to work the virtual keyboards of this beautiful touch-screen phone that is almost a mini-computer. Meanwhile, I had deactivated my old phone in the process of activating the new one. I quickly went back to shopping for a new phone.
Recommend this product?
Some online searching brought me to this phone, the Clarity Pal (Clarity appears to be part of Plantronics), a phone that is made for people with hearing and/or vision impairments. It looked like it was something that I could use, as it had large pushbuttons for the numbers and was not too small. Many of today's phones are little tiny things with little tiny number pads; that would just not work for me.
I ordered this phone through Amazon from a third-party seller, Buy ASL. The phone arrived, and it was exactly as it appeared on Amazon. It is rectangular, and I believe that it is referred to as a "candy bar" phone because of its shape. My old Nokia was what they call a "lipstick phone," again because of the shape.
At first glance, and first heft, this is a solid, slim phone made of hard black plastic. It has a large (two inches wide, one inch wide) color LCD screen, that is very bright and has surprisingly good resolution. It can almost be used as a flashlight, but the power-saver function has the screen going dark after about thirty seconds of inactivity. The time and date were displayed (optional) on a background image of blue seas beneath a blue sky with white, puffy clouds (with other backgrounds available). As you dial, the numbers appear on the screen, very large, plus they are announced by the phone. When you receive a call, the phone says the number clearly aloud, before going to a ring-tone. In the lower left corner of the display is the word Menu, and the right corner is occupied by the word Names. In the upper-right corner of the display is an image of a battery, indicating the level of charge. In the upper left corner of the display there is a small icon to let you know that you have an alarm set. There is also a tiny icon (cellphone tower?) that indicates signal strength (all there, partially there, not there). The charge-level icon and signal strength icon are too small for anyone with visual impairments.
The buttons are quite large and made of a soft, rubber-like black buttons with the numerals clearly printed in white, with smaller white letters for texting. Above the top row of numbers, and below the display, you will find two rows of three buttons. The row immediately below the screen has buttons labeled M1, M2, and M3. These buttons are used in the process of saving numbers into the list of commonly-used numbers for you (i.e. contacts). However, the M1 and M3 buttons also serve as buttons to activate the function identified immediately above each on the display (i.e. Menu and Names, respectively). Below that row, the three buttons are the activate button (for answering incoming calls), a toggle switch to scroll up and down through the menu, and the inactivate button for ending calls or turning the phone off.
Along the left side, you will find buttons for On and Off (volume), and an input for an earphone. On the ride side, there is the input for the charger, a toggle switch to change the tone of the incoming sound in either direction, and a volume-boost button to raise the incoming sound by twenty-five decibels.
There is one more button that gives you an interesting feature. On the back of the telephone, there is a large red button with a heart symbol on it. The owner can pre-program up to five emergency numbers into the phone and, in an emergency, push that button. The phone will then call the first emergency number, then the second, then the third, and so on, until someone answers. In some ways, this mimics a Life Alert device.
This phone is basically a phone. There are no Internet access, no games, and no calculator features. What there is, feature-wise, is an alarm function with eight slots, a stopwatch function, and an option to use Bluetooth. The phone does function as a speakerphone as well.
My experience is that this is a good phone with high-quality sound, a clear display, and large buttons that are easy for me to use. When I call others on this phone, they have said that the clarity is good. Therefore, as a phone, this is excellent for me. I do miss having a calculator in the phone. My old one had one and, while I did not use often, it did occasionally come in handy.
What I found to be frustrating and very surprising was the woefully inadequate set of instructions that came with this phone. The instructions clearly told you how to insert a SIM card and the battery, as well as how to make and receive calls. That's it. There was absolutely nothing about the alarm function, how to activate Bluetooth, or how to use the stopwatch function. I am not interested in Bluetooth or the stopwatch, but I use the alarm function on a regular basis. I use it as a reminder for my medication that is not taken with a meal, as well as a backup alarm clock in the morning, in case our electricity gets interrupted during the night, thus messing up all our digital clocks. The instructions advise the owner to go to the website (clarityproducts.com) for further information. The website is useless in that regard, as it is designed for sales, not for information helpful to current owners. I ended up having to call the toll-free customer service number to obtain instructions for the alarm. The customer service representative with whom I spoke, was very friendly and agreed that the instruction booklet with skimpy and that the website was not a good source for information aimed at owners of the phone.
While I like the background image that came on the phone, as well as the ring-tone that was pre-set, I had to do a lot of exploring through the menu to find out how to change them, if I so wanted. There actually are about a dozen different background images, as well as about two dozen different pre-loaded ring-tones. There are also empty slots in the list of ring-tones, with my guess being that those slots are for downloading new ring-tones. If I want to download a ring-tone, I would have to call customer service again, as it is one more item that is not mentioned in either the instruction booklet or on the website. Oh, and if you want the phone to display accurate time and the correct date, you can either call customer service or explore the menu until you find the right place.
After the debacle with the smart phone, I wondered a good basic phone that I could use. This phone is it, and I look forward to using it for many years.
Thank you for reading my long review.
Copyright by Christian McCallister 2012.
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