Uniden ELBT595 Cordless Phone with Bluetooth

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I've fallen in love with a phone. And not a cell phone either, just a plain old cordless phone for your house. Not that there's a single aspect of this phone that's plain or old. In fact, the Uniden ELBT595 exhibits technological advances that ought to put the mobile business to shame.

The biggest newfangled feature is the Bluetooth connectivity. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled phone (and they're becoming more common), you can set your phone to send calls to the Uniden. Why? So that you can leave your mobile phone in a spot near the window where it gets the best reception, yet carry on animated conversations walking all around the house with the Uniden cordless handset. The only restriction is that your mobile needs to be within about 30 feet of the cordless phone's base station, and preferably a lot closer.

If you have a landline, you can run both into the phone, receiving calls from either line as they come in. In case your mobile rings while you're on your land line, you can just put one call on hold and answer the other. Crazier still, one person can use the cordless handset to make a landline call, while the other makes a mobile call on the cordless base station.

And that's not the only Bluetooth angle here, either. You can also use a Bluetooth headset with the cordless phone, creating a kind of crazy Bluetooth phone to base station to cordless phone to Bluetooth headset wireless daisy chain.

The technofreak in me started drooling as I plowed through the instruction manual. Have you ever heard of a cordless phone that you can connect via USB to your PC? Thankfully the software was quick to set up and easy to use. In no time I was able to synch the phone's directory with Outlook, and it didn't just dump all my numbers in—the software gives you the option of just importing selected numbers.

Still, the Outlook synch resulted in the only negative experience I've encountered on the phone. Since all of the numbers in my phonebook are 10 digits (that is, none of them start with 1), they all dial fine using my mobile line, but get caught up using my landline. I've pored over the instruction manual to find a remedy for this, and all I can think of is to add 1s to every number, since the mobile line is smart enough to ignore them.

The phone also comes with a funky little audio cord that, it turns out, can be used to record ringtones straight from your iPod. Plug it in and hit record, and pretty soon your household will ring with something you actually want to hear. The mobile industry would never make it this easy to do, because it removes any chance of them profiting from the feature.

There are still more surprises, like two-way radio functionality (if you buy extra handsets), a baby monitor option, and a backup battery in case of power failure. Oh, I almost forgot: it also has a built-in answering machine.