/> ED I T O R S C H O I C E IN N O V A T IO N A W A R D
X

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Phone Labs Dock-N-Talk review: Phone Labs Dock-N-Talk

Kent_German.jpg

As more people ditch their landline phones and transition to an exclusively cellular lifestyle, they may encounter a few problems. For one thing, cell phones are not getting any bigger (hello, Motorola Razr), and the tinier models aren't comfortable to hold against your head for long conversations. What's more, you may not get a signal everywhere in your house or your office. Fortunately, however, there are alternatives with products such as the Dock-N-Talk from Phone Labs. Similar to the CellDock but much improved, Dock-N-Talk lets you sync most any mobile with a landline home or office phone for more comfortable gabbing throughout your residence or workplace. Of course, you'll need to place the unit where you can get good cell reception, but that should be about the biggest problem you face when using this functional and user-friendly product.

7.6

Phone Labs Dock-N-Talk

The Good

The Dock-N-Talk is easy to use, requires minimal setup, supports Bluetooth, and can connect to multiple landline phones.

The Bad

The Dock-N-Talk is expensive, its construction feels somewhat cheap, and it doesn't support all cell phones.

The Bottom Line

Provided it works properly with your cell phone and you can afford the sky-high price, the Dock-N-Talk from Phone Labs is an ideal and pain-free way to combine your cell and landline phones.

One major downside, however, is the price. Not only is the Dock-N-Talk itself fairly expensive at $149.99 (for a hunk of plastic, no less), but you must fork over an additional $19.99 for a cell phone cable. And since the cables don't have universal connectors, you will need multiple cables if you own multiple cell phones. Alternatively, you can use a Bluetooth module to sync with your cell phone, which is a nice touch, but it will run you another $79.99.

Unlike some other docking stations we've reviewed--the Motorola SD4500 and the RCA Cell Phone Docking System, for example--the Dock-N-Talk does not come with a landline phone. Phones Labs will sell you its own cordless model for $119.99, but Dock-N-Talk is best for people who already have one on hand. And keep in mind that you don't need an active landline connection in your home to use Dock-N-Talk.

The main component of Dock-N-Talk is a plastic box measuring 4.25 by 4.25 by 1.25 inches and weighing 5.5 ounces. The small size means you can place it on smaller shelves, but its construction feels a bit cheap. Beyond the ports for the telephone cords, the AC adapter, and the cell phone cable/Bluetooth module, the only features on the exterior of the console are a small LED, a Bluetooth-pairing control, and a ringer setup button. The color is basic gray, which is offset by a wavy black stripe. It's nondescript, to say the least, but it's just a docking station, after all, so we didn't think anything of it.

Setup for the Dock-N-Talk was easy. After plugging in the module via the AC adapter, you can connect your home or office phone using the included phone cord. Then, after pressing the ringer setup button on the console to establish a connection, you're free to plug in your mobile. We used both the cell phone cable and the Bluetooth module to connect our Sony Ericsson S710a and had no problems using either method. Phone Labs says it supports more than 800 cell phones from the major manufacturers, but some very recent models, such as the newer Sony Ericsson Walkman handsets, have yet to be accommodated. You can see a complete list of compatible cell phones on the company's Web site. On the upside, however, the unit will charge your mobile when it's connected.

One of the Dock-N-Talk's better features is that if connected to a wall jack, it can function with up to five other landline phones in your home. It's especially great for families that have multiple phones in the house, as they need to buy only one device. This feature works regardless of whether you have active landline service, but keep in mind that it won't work with wall jacks assigned to different phone numbers. Also, you can connect only one cell phone at a time to Dock-N-Talk. Other features include call waiting, speed dialing, and live call transfers between a cell and landline phone. And good news for Nextel customers: You can even make push-to-talk calls on the landline handset.

Using the Dock-N-Talk is simple as well. To place a call using your cell phone's service, just pick up the landline phone and dial as normal; to receive a call, you just answer your home or office phone as you normally would. When we tested the Dock-N-Talk, we placed and received calls on our office phone using the S710a on Cingular's service. Call quality was satisfactory, but remember that reception will depend on what kind of signal you get on your cell phone. More important, remember that as long as you're using your mobile service to make calls, you will be burning your cell phone minutes.

Overall, the Dock-N-Talk is a quality product for combining your cell and landline phones, but its high price doesn't warrant the convenience just yet.