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November 18th, 2002

Phone Design is Awful

We have a cordless phone, as many Americans do. It’s a VTech, and I purchased it to replace a Sony that had a number of problems. The Sony was giving me grief with its volume: the volume control started to stick and jump, causing the person on the other end to sound both shrill and mousy at the same time. The VTech was a nice solution.

Then, of course, its volume control started going south. On the loudest setting, it’s extremely difficult to hear the other person. Imagine whispering during a Stones concert, and then degrading that to phone quality. Ick.

So, naturally, we want a new phone. But I have to tell you that this has been worlds harder and more frustrating than I could have ever imagined. The reason, simply put, is that phones today are designed quite poorly. It’s as if the phone makers decided to make just slightly larger versions of cell phones for home phones.

The biggest gripe I have is that I have yet to find a phone that is comfortable to sandwich between the ear and the shoulder. Long distance is still cheaper on landlines (at least for us), and, heck, long conversations are more common on landlines. Thus, one needs a phone that’s good to hold and good to sandwich. Most phones are small, rectangular, and uncomfortable.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – there are some larger phones out there… but they’re either enlarged bricks, or have uncomfortable earpieces. Believe it or not, but this Disney phone is probably one of the best out there: it’s curved, not very heavy – but still substantial – and felt good in the hand. Of course, it was lacking the features we needed (Disney-free stuff)… and it’s for kids.

Above and beyond the comfort thing, phones are starting to shed their super-generic looks for a bit of that mini-stereo system appearance: gaudy, chrome-filled, etc. I’d really like to have a phone that looks good and functions just as well, but that seems nearly impossible.

All I want is a comfortable, feature-filled phone that doesn’t look silly, has excellent usability, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Posted in Technology

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