* Prices may differ from that shown
Until recently I had a team of seven direct reports in five different countries, each of whom got at least an hour of my time each week. Add in at least another day's worth of stupid teleconferences and you'll quickly realise I was spending a ridiculous amount of time on the phone. I found it really restrictive to have one hand tied up holding a phone and only one left to type during calls. Since I was often screen sharing and showing people things whilst I was talking (and occasionally off doing other stuff when other people's calls got too boring), this became a big annoyance. Noticing that a colleague who also talks far too much was using a headset, I asked the IT department if I could have one and they gave me a Plantronics headset to use at work. I liked it so much that I decided I wanted one for home, but they were expensive, so I decided to buy a new phone for home which was compatible with my headset and to take it home with me.
It's shocking how hard it is to find a phone that will take a headset with an RJ11 jack and after far too much time 'googling' for ideas, I found that the only cost-effective and guaranteed to work phone was the one I already had at work - the BT Converse 2100. On the plus side this meant I got a phone I already knew really well, but on the downside I got nothing new or novel. My step-father is a BT pensioner and gets quite a generous discount on the cost of BT phones, so I rang him and asked him if he'd get one for me. I'm still not entirely sure what he ended up paying but it was probably 20% or so less than the standard price of around £22-23.
In an era of fancy schmancy all-singing-all-dancing phones, it's pretty easy to be underwhelmed by the BT Converse 2100 because it doesn't offer a lot of features compared to many modern phones. It is a proper 'plug in the wall' corded phone rather than a cordless one. I HATE cordless phones as the allegedly rechargeable batteries never seem up to the job and it's really easy to put the handset down and not find it again. The base of the phone has a headset socket and it's very easy to plug the headset in - and equally importantly, very easy to take it out again.
The phone is a rather unexciting black one with very few bells and whistles. It's also available in white, but having had white phones and suffered from grimy finger marks, I wouldn't buy white again. It looks cheap and unsophisticated and rather plastic and basic. You get a light at the top right corner, just in case you've foolishly turned the ringer off and keep wondering why nobody ever calls you. That did actually happen with my phone at work. I'm not there very often and someone had got annoyed at my phone ringing and had turned the ringer off without telling me. Thanks a lot. I then only got calls if I happened to be looking in the right direction when the red light was flashing.
You get three memories with this - unimaginatively labelled M1, M2 and M3. I don't use these and I've never bothered to find out how to programme them because I don't have three particularly obvious numbers to pick from the many I dial regularly. You get the standard numbers 1-9 and a zero plus a * and a #. At the bottom of the key pad there are three really useful buttons - the Redial (which redials the last number), the headset button which you press to get a dial tone when you're wearing a headset or to pick up a call. And finally there's a secrecy button to mute your voice. This is very handy on multi-participant conference calls when the amount of background noise can be really distracting. There's a button marked 'R' and I'm ashamed to say I haven't a clue what it does but it's something to do with switchboards so it's not relevant to me for home use, and finally one marked 'amplify' which seems to be about as much use as a chocolate tea pot. When I use this phone at work I really struggle in a busy open plan office to get the volume high enough but at phone it's not a problem.
On the bottom of the phone there are four sliding switches for various settings. The most important are for the ringer tone and the ringer volume which you'll probably want to adjust. The other two are probably more relevant for office use as they relate to use with switchboards. According to the BT website it's got an 'inductive coupler' and is 'PBX compatible' which is probably handy if you have a clue what those things mean.
The main thing you don't get - and you may well want - is a speaker phone option. Out of courtesy to those around me I wouldn't use a speaker at work, but at home it would often be nice to be able to share a call with my husband so he can also hear what friends are saying.
The BT Converse 2100 is a reliable if uninspiring phone and there's a lot to be said for having the same model at work and at home. Spending £20 on a new phone rather than £50 on a second headset was the cheap option but it does rely on my remembering to take the headset with me when I travel around so it's not ideal but it'll do for now.
Today I will be reviewing the BT Converse 2100 Telephone. As a BT customer, I had mine free when I reported to BT that my current phone at the time wasn't working. This phone is currently available from Amazon for a price of £24.44 which seems like good value for money.
The phone is attractive and looks modern. The version I have is in black, however a white version is also available. I prefer having the black one as it is easier to keep clean (unlike previous white phones I have had which get 'dirty' very easily.
One thing which is really annoying with this phone is that the cord gets very tangled. No matter how many times I untangle it, you can guarantee it will be tangled up soon. The phone is also a bit too light. I keep the phone on my desk and if I happen to 'pull it' just a little bit (because the cord keeps getting tangled), the phone quite easily falls off the desk which is really annoying.
The phone (the part you speak into) is quite chunky which means that it is easy to grip and hold onto, yet it is nice and light too, and so your hand doesn't ache after talking a long time on the phone.
The buttons are quite big (not huge) but they are quite big and easy to see which means that they are great for the elderly etc. The buttons are also quite far apart (not miles apart) which is good as it means that you do not accidentally press the wrong numbers.
You can adjust the level of the 'ringer'. I have mine on the loudest, however, it still isn't that loud and so if I am in another room with the television on, it is quite easy to miss a call.
There is also a secrecy button which is useful if you want to discuss something with someone with you, but don't want the caller to know etc.
If you are looking for a 'simple' phone that is easy to use, then I would recommend this phone.
Thanks for reading!
Xdonzx / xd-o-n-z-x