Along with other electronics, telephones are reaching ever more for the technological sky. I rather enjoy this as I remember clearly working in a telephone exchange in what is now my own village, whereby a little button dropped down when a resident lifted the telephone and I connected them to the number they wanted. When an incoming call came for a number, I recall telling the caller that if they wanted Mrs. Jones, I had just seen her go past on her way to the local shop. That is true! What a long way we have come since residential customers had to share a party line with their neighbour. Since this was more or less an extension, you can imagine the rows this caused sometimes. Then, as the modern world took hold, the Telephone Company became British Telecom and, as money from new shareholders poured in, another era faded into memory. With the freedom to choose, our previously national telephone company began to be regarded in some quarters as part of the dreary past. Yet I still chose BT products above their new and less expensive rivals, although I did venture into disloyalty from time to time. The last time I did this was a year ago when I needed a new telephone/answering machine for my desk. I chose a Cable and Wireless model with all the gubbins and the less said about that piece of plastic the better, even though it did offer more functions than I would need. After 12 months of intermittent problems and always poor sound reproduction on the answer machine, it finally gave up the ghost trying to take my bedroom extension with it. Thus it was that I clicked on Comet Online and searched for a replacement. Although I like toys, this time I decided that over £100 could be more usefully spent and looked for the cheaper end of the market, whilst still demanding the functions we have become used to and now demand. When I saw the BT Response 123 plus listed for £24.66 and free delivery I was a little suspicious. After a
ll we get what we pay for don't we? I want something which looks nice on my desk, has a good reproduction of sound and has a choice of leaving my own voice message, rather than the automated one. Of course it has to be digital and do the basic things we take for granted nowdays. Meanwhile, although my desk is wide and 5' long, I don't want a clumsy monster taking up space. The Response appeared to fill my requirements and I decided that little would be lost by ordering. Anyway Comet have a returns policy. I am delighted with my purchase. The Response 123 plus is matt white and neat at only 8 1/2" x 5 1/2", with the speed dial list and various buttons neatly beneath the receiver. BT have cleverly chosen the functions which need the receiver to be lifted to be placed here. The edges are nicely rounded and although light the whole thing looks and feels reassuringly sturdy. I found the length of cord reached easily to my computer socket and wall plug with room to spare although these are over 6' away from where my phone is placed. The dialling buttons are of a comfortable size and the figures and letters on them are a dark blue and clear enough for me not to have to look for my specs. Beneath the figures are small buttons marked OGM (outgoing messages) stop and answer. These curve along the top of the attractive oval answer controls, beneath which is a sound volume control. Other phones I have used had to be tipped on their side or turned upside down for things like volume control. On the Response 123 everything is to hand without moving the machine, with the exception of the ringer on/off which is on the edge at the back Beneath the receiver which again is smoothly curved, thus inviting the hand to lift it, is a list for you to fill of up to 10 speed dial numbers as well as buttons for secrecy, quickdial, store and redial. This phone does not have a facility for you to see who is calli
ng or hands free use. I shall only take one star off though as this is the part where you get what you pay for. Anyway I am able to hear the caller and use the answer machine to filter calls. This is so important for me and a priority reason for the answer machine in the first place as well as 1571. Have you ever sat down after a long tiring day, with a hot meal on a tray only to have the phone ring? Placing the tray out of reach of the dog, I answer to find that on the other end of the line is someone who wants a chat. The sort of chat which consists of a whole hour of nothing in particular as a meal cools until it is inedible and Coronation Street rolls on unwatched. Once I have established who is calling I can decide whether to answer or leave them to my message. Placing your own message rather than the automated one available is simplicity itself. Just press the OGM button, after which you will receive a message to speak after the tone. Record your message from 15-30 cms from the microphone (4 curving lines above the numbers) and that is it......... you hardly have to bend over the phone. Press the OGM button to end the message and it will be played back to you. With equal simplicity you may set up your speed dial numbers. Lift the handset, press the store button and enter your number. Press the store button again and then the keypad number of the number you want to list against. Write in the name against that number on the lined pad beneath the receiver. From then on you only have to press quickdial and the number on your list (1-10). The Response may be wall mounted and then the receiver "parked" on the top RH of the set if you need to walk away. Messages received are shown by a red flashing light, but there is no audible warning. Remote access is available with a security code which you can change if you wish. Rather than go through the user guide, I can say that all the functions for a
telephone answering machine are there but for those I have previously mentioned. You will have a memo facility, phone memory and up to 20 minutes digital recording time. For those you who demand a telephone with built in video which also switches on your central heating the Response 123 plus will fall short. If you want a phone which plays Colonel Bogey and waves the stars and stripes picked out in flashing coloured lights this will not be for you. Should you demand a communication machine developed by NASA and needing 50 pages of close type just to open the box, you may sneer at my choice. But if you are looking for a phone which is cheap, looks neatly attractive and does what it says in the guide this may be for you.