If you're a hard-core multitasker, check out Plantronics's roamer-friendly, hands-free CT12. This ultraportable 2.4GHz DSS model is about the size of a pocket calculator and comes with a nifty headset. While it doesn't have an answering machine, and its microphone doesn't do an especially good job of canceling out noise, the single-line CT12 makes a decent pick, especially for the home office. However, priced at $129, it sure doesn't come cheap.
The CT12's handset design is durable, well thought out, and at 4.125 by 3.125 by 4.125 (WDH) inches, it's perfectly pocket-size. Even the slim, unobtrusive base is appealing. Keypad controls are well labeled and easy to maneuver, although folks with larger hands may find the keypad a bit too cramped. You can wear the headset over the ear or the head; both positions are reasonably comfortable. Despite the unit's miniature size, Plantronics still found room to add a very readable three-line, backlit LCD. In addition, the headset features FireFly, a red light at the end of the mouthpiece, which pulses when the phone is in use. The light fell just within our peripheral vision, which we found somewhat annoying.
As for features, the CT12's are fairly standard. You get 10-number speed dialing, a 100-name phone book, support for caller ID and call waiting, and 10 ring tones. There's no answering machine, which could be a deal breaker for some. Since the CT12 is designed for hands-free convenience via the included headset, there's no speakerphone, either. Battery life is quite good. We exceeded the 5.5-hour talk time by a little more than an hour, but we fell 1.5 days short of the 10-day standby time.
Call quality was also pleasing. According to Plantronics, the CT12's maximum range is 100 feet from the base unit. While we didn't push the CT12 to the max, we were able to get excellent range over a distance of more than 50 feet, with minimal breakup. Callers sounded crisp and clear, although in our tests, we heard a lot of the background sounds that the CT12's noise-canceling headset was supposed to block out. It's not horrible, but it doesn't meet the advertised claims. And we heard a fair amount of interference, perhaps because we also run a Wi-Fi network in our testing environment (Wi-Fi networks use the same frequency as 2.4GHz phones). Still, overall, the quality is good, and the design works.