Pros: It's cheap, it works, some nice features
Cons: Requires a 9 volt battery, a little fuzzy with recordings.
When we moved recently we decided we needed a new answering machine. We had a total of three cordless phones, one with a built in 'machine, but we hated the phone itself. It got to be a pain finding a jack just to plug that phone in the use the machine. We decided just a cheap one would work, something I could sit on the desk, near the phone, would be fine. We headed to the Exchange to see what they had.
They honestly didn't offer much of a selection. Most people, apparently, want an all-in-one model, so 'machines on their own were hard to come by. One of the least expensive, and decent looking, was the Conair TAD-1212 Digital Answering Machine.
I wasn't shopping for an particular feature when I grabbed this off of the shelf. I just wanted something to answer my phone if I wasn't home, or if I was but didn't want to talk to whoever was calling (don't you love Caller ID?). Upon closer inspection, though, this inexpensive answering machine has some nice features.
* Digital Tapeless Recording - This is supposed to be more reliable than a machine that uses a tape because the chip isn't supposed to wear out like a tape would.
* Auto Disconnect - The machine will automatically hang up if you decide you want to take the call and pick up any phone.
* Voice Activated Recording - It will record a message as long as the person is speaking for up to 45 seconds. If they stop talking for 7 seconds or more it will hang up on them.
* Power Failure Protection - The phone requires a 9 volt battery so that if and when the power goes out your machine will not lose any of the messages that it has saved.
* One Touch Playback - You press one button and the machine will play your messages and then reset itself to answer calls again.
* Message Save - It saves your messages after you listen to them. If you do not save them they will automatically be erased and recorded over.
* Call Screening - It plays the messages out loud (as long as your volume is turned up) so you can hear as people leave a message.
* Adjustable Ring Select - You can tell the machine to pick up on 2 rings, 4 rings, or Toll Saver.
* Flashing Message Counter - The green light will flash once for each message that you have (up to 10).
* Battery Low Indicator - The little green light will flash very rapidly (and forever - which is VERY annoying) to let you know that there is either no battery installed or that is needs replaced. Replacing the battery requires a Phillips Screwdriver.
* Message Capacity Full Detection - Your machine will ring 10-11 times and then beep three times and hang up, letting the caller know the machine has reached it's capacity.
* Remote Operation - Retrieve your messages from any TOUCH TONE phone from anywhere in the USA with a three digit Access Code that is included with your machine.
The Conair TAD-1212 Digital Answering Machine is a decent answering machine, and fairly attractive. It is white with a gray control panel. Above the control panel is the speaker. At the bottom portion of the control panel, front and center, is the green Power On/Battery Low/Message Indicator LED. This button lights up solid when the machine is on and there are no messages. It flashes the number of messages you have, or it flashes rapidly to let you know about the battery being low.
Arched around this light are the other control buttons. Starting from the left you have the:
* On/Off Button - for turning your machine off and on
* Announcement Button - This is to set or play back to greeting for your machine. You can record a message up to 30 seconds long.
* Play Messages - This is to play back the saved and recorded messages.
* Repeat - While playing a message, you can quickly press this button and it will replay the current message. You can press this twice to repeat the previous message.
* Stop/Save - If you press this while playing the messages it will stop and reset itself to record again, saving all of the messages. If you press this at the end of the messages it will save them for you.
There is also a Volume Control on the right hand side, on the side of the machine. It is a little dial. This is nice if you aren't wanting to be disturbed, but still want the machine to get your calls while you are home.
The messages aren't always overly clear. There is a little bit of fuzziness, but so far I have yet to not be able to understand a message. I have also noticed that the louder you turn the answering machine up the harder it is to understand what is being said. The speaker isn't all that great, but it does work.
So far this machine has been excellent. I love being able to check my messages when we go out of town, which isn't often, but it is still nice to have. We always use the Toll Saver option so that when we are out of town we can tell by the number of rings if we have messages. If there are messages the machine will pick up after only two rings. If not, it will ring 5 times before it picks up. This can be a little annoying if you are screening calls, though. A lot of people give up after 4 rings or so. Also, it gets old listening to the phone ring and ring before it picks up for you, but you could always change the number of rings. I am just afraid I will forget to change it back and I always wait for our Caller ID to pick up who is calling before I answer, which is at least two rings in our area.
If you are looking for an inexpensive machine that will record messages for you without a lot of hoopla, this is the machine for you. It's simple, it works and it isn't ugly. What more could one want?