If you're constantly making calls and you'd prefer not to use a speakerphone, check out this hands-free 2.4GHz digital-spread-spectrum (DSS) cordless model from Uniden. Lightweight and simple to use, it also delivers great sound, has excellent range, and, best of all, frees you up to multitask while you're on a call. With a list price of $99, the TRUc46 (a.k.a. Neo) may seem expensive for a phone without an answering machine, but if you chat a lot, it's worth it. It beats competing models from Plantronics and General Electronic without even trying.
The compact silver-and-black Neo fits perfectly in a shirt pocket. Uniden also throws in a holster and a belt clip, if you prefer going that route. The base station is unobtrusive, and the only controls on it are a status LED and a pager. There's no speakerphone or answering machine on this model. Space is at a premium for a phone this size, and both the keypad and the three-line LCD are on the smallish side. If you have large hands, the setup may feel cramped, but we liked it. Regrettably, the LCD isn't backlit. Keys are well spaced and have crisp lettering. The phone ships with two headsets: one that fits over the head, the other over the ear. Both fit and sound reasonably well, but Uniden could stand to use better-quality materials. The plastic feels a little chintzy.
The Neo's nice design is backed up by an even nicer feature set. In addition to support for caller ID and call waiting, this multilingual (English, Spanish, and French) Uniden can store up to 100 names and numbers in its phone book--double that of most of the competition. There are LEDs on both the base and the phone that alert you to new voicemail messages. It also has a few cell phone-like features: you can select from six ringers, four melodies, or vibrate mode. You can't assign any of these modes to specific callers, but you can associate ring tones to individual names. We especially liked the chain-dialing feature, which lets you store a series of numbers and associate them with a particular phone number. For example, if you've memorized the numbers behind the voice prompts for your bank or your favorite airline, you can speed through the menus once you set up chain dialing.
In our tests, callers sounded crisp and clear, and volume levels were acceptably loud. We were able to get excellent range over a distance of more than 50 feet, with minimal breakup. When you move out of range, the c46 simply drops the call. While this prevents you from rambling on before realizing you've lost the person at the other end, we would have appreciated a warning. Neither is there a reminder to alert you to recharge the battery. On the plus side, battery life is very good. We exceeded the 5-hour talk time by more than an hour and outlasted the rated eight-day standby time by about 12 hours.
Overall, we give the c46 a hearty endorsement. Its hands-free design, fat phone book, and time-saving features make it an excellent choice for anyone, but heavy talkers should be especially pleased with it.
Note: The step-up model, the TRUc56, is exactly the same as this model, but it lets you expand the system to include an extra handset.