Pal by Clarity hands-on: Simple phone for seniors

With its huge buttons and simple interface, Clarity's Pal is a feature phone built for seniors and people with disabilities.

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NEW ORLEANS--Sure, Pal by Clarity isn't the sleekest or most high-tech phone on the market. It doesn't go on the Internet, it can't take pictures, and it definitely won't let you play a round of Angry Birds on its screen.

Instead, Pal was designed for an older demographic, and for less able-bodied users like paraplegics. It's produced by Clarity, an offshoot division of the mobile and Bluetooth accessory company, Plantronics.

Clarity has been around for 40 years, and it specializes in products for seniors for a good reason: according to Clarity, 35 million people suffer from hearing loss in the U.S., 40 million people have arthritis, and 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 years old each day.

For those interested in a simple, easy-to-use device, either for themselves or for a loved one, the Pal may be a good fit. It's an unlocked GSM phone compatible with AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks that boasts a high-quality speakerphone. When I held the device up to my ear, the audio of this handset was really loud -- up to 25db loud.

Pal by Clarity Lynn La/CNET

Its large rubber buttons light up when in use, including its three speed-dial buttons, and its screen displays numbers in a big bold font for easy viewing. It's also Bluetooth-enabled, so you can hook it up to a wireless hearing aid.

Furthermore, there is an emergency call button on the back that, when pressed, can either call 911 or a number you preload.

The handset is only available online, for $99. It goes on sale on May 28, but you can preorder now.

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