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If you are hooked on your cell phone or are one of the many people who have recently ditched their landline to go all cellular, this is one gadget you should know about. The Link-to-Cell is a Bluetooth device that lets you take and make cellular calls using a Panasonic cordless phone.
Most of us have encountered problems when using a cell phone in a home environment. The four major ones are: 1. Dead zones where you can’t get good reception 2. Batteries you forget to charge 3. Keeping track of the location of your cell phone 4. Not being able to hear the cell phone ring throughout the house
This Panasonic Link-to-Cell device, along with the included cordless handset, proposes to solve all of these problems. The documentation says that it will allow you to be able to use the most reliable cell reception that you can get throughout all parts of your home. It will also let you talk with clarity, talk on the cell phone without draining the battery, and to be able to talk using a more comfortable cordless phone. We put the Link-to-Cell through some vigorous testing to see if the claims were true and if it really does solve our 4 major problems.As shown in Figure 1, The Panasonic Link-to-Cell (KX-TH1211B DECT 6.0) telephone system includes the Link-to-Cell transmitter, one telephone base unit, one telephone base unit stand, AC adapter, telephone line cord, handset cover, belt clip, and operating instructions. Two AA rechargeable batteries for the handset are also included.
The Link-to-Cell is not compatible with all cell phones. So before you decide to buy, you will want to surf over to the Panasonic website and make sure that your cell phone is compatible. We tested it with an Apple iPhone, a Nokia 6085, a Motorola Razor V3, and a Samsung SGH-J600. All were on the compatible cell phone list and all worked well.
Although the Link-to-Cell handset takes 7 hours to fully charge, we were able to use it after only a few minutes of charging. The cordless phone comes with two rechargeable Ni-MH AA batteries. That, means that you will have to deal with recharging and replacing batteries occasionally. The handset makes this fairly easy since it verbally announces, “Please charge phone” when the need arises. While you may balk at having to recharge and replace batteries, the proprietary batteries found in many other handsets will have to be replaced when they wear out and that may be fairly costly. So this is a six-of-one and a half-dozen of the other choice. You can look at it as either a plus or a minus.You can pair the Link-to-Cell base unit with two Bluetooth-enabled cell phones. As shown in Figure 2, there are three buttons on the side of the base unit. The uppermost button is a handset locator button, which will ring the handset. This is ideal for the times when the handset slips between the sofa cushions or gets left in some unknown corner. Under the locator button are two buttons labeled Cell 1 and Cell 2. Press and hold the button and the corresponding light on the front of the unit (shown in Figure 3) will blink red indicating that it is in discoverable mode. If the number “1” is red, it means that the cell phone is not available. If it is green, it means that it is connected and working properly. As mentioned, a blinking red light means the unit is ready for pairing with a cell phone. Once the light is flashing, you put your cell phone in Bluetooth discoverable mode, enter the code (0000) and the two are connected.
This process is the one thing that Panasonic keeps short and simple. It works quite well. The pairing instructions are clear and the buttons are big and easy to use.
When we tried to set up things like the date and ring tones, however, the simplicity disappeared and the installation instructions quickly deteriorated. We had 4 tech-savvy people try to get the Link-to-Cell set up by following the instructions for making the menu choices. Each one failed. It’s not that the device is so difficult to set up. It is just that the instructions are poorly written.
Once we set the instructions aside, we were able to fumble through the menus and set up the device fairly easily. We used the manual to see what features were available and then worked our way through the menus to set everything up.
[nextpage title=”Using the Link-to-Cell”]Once everything is set up, actually using the Link-to-Cell is easy. When a call comes in you will hear the handset ring. Each cell phone can be given a unique ring tone, so you can tell which cell phone is being called. You simply pick up the handset and press the Talk button to answer the call. Unfortunately, when your cell phone is paired with the device, you can only answer through the handset. It would be much more convenient if you could answer by picking up either the cell phone or the handset.The cordless handset comes with a base stand that plugs into the wall, as shown in Figure 4. It is fairly standard as far as cordless handsets go. The buttons are small, but clearly marked. The screen has black text on a lighted white background.
The Link-to-Cell and its cordless handset has several nice features including speaker phone, talking caller ID, night mode, call blocking, ringer volume control, talk volume control, flash, mute, hold, and redial. It also has a 50-entry address book. The phone can be set to display in either English or Spanish. You can assign a special ring tone to certain callers. There are seven ring tones, but only four melodies. Three are variations of the same melody, like a slightly different old-fashioned telephone ring.You can also purchase up to five additional handsets, and unless you are in very small quarters, you will probably want to do so. Although we only had one handset to try, if you get two or more you can also use the built-in intercom feature to communicate between handsets.The Link-to-Cell can be used with or without a landline. If you have a landline you can answer and make calls from either the landline or the cell phone. This is a nice feature for those who have not yet given in to the urge to eliminate their landlines. However, when using the Link-to-Cell with a landline it works a little differently than when you use it only for cell phones. This is not a bad thing, however, it seems to further complicate the already confusing instructions. Panasonic should rewrite their instructions and divi
de the manual into two sections, one for using the unit with a landline and one for using it without a landline.If you have two cell phones connected, when you make a call you make the choice of which cell phone to use. This is quite good if you have cell phones that are on different packages and one may have more minutes than the other. However, we didn’t see a way to set a default cell phone to use for outgoing calls. If both of your cell phones are on the same package, it would be nice to not have to make a selection of which phone to use every time you make a call.On the other hand, the Link-to-cell makes calling from the cell phone a bit easier by allowing you to choose a default area code. Just program in your area code and you won’t have to dial it for calls in the same area code.One of the best things about using the Link-to-Cell is that if you have pockets in your house where your cell reception is poor, you can place your cell phone in the place where you get the best reception and can take and receive calls on the handset with this clarity throughout the house. You can also charge your cell phone and talk on the handset without having to have to be tethered to the charging cable.When receiving calls through the Link-to-Cell, there is a slight delay. So you pick up the handset and say hello, but the other person doesn’t hear you say hello unless you pause before you speak. This can be a little hard to get used to. The unit has better clarity than other devices of this type that we tried. The unit also recognized the cell phones and quickly reconnected when they came into the area.There were however, a few problems during our testing. Sometimes, when two calls in a row came in, the second call would go directly to voice mail even if the first call was completed before the second came in. Several times, the calls were dropped after the first ring on the cordless phone. Again several times, our iPhone lost the connection and would not reconnect until we unplugged the base unit, canceled the Bluetooth connection on the cell completely, turned the cell phone off, and re-established the Bluetooth connection.[nextpage title=”Specifications”]
Panasonic Link-to-Cell DECT 6.0 Expandable Bluetooth-Enabled Phone System with Landline Capability (KX-TH1211B) main features are:
- Frequency/Technology: 1.9 GHz/DECT 6.0
- Channels: 60
- Multi-Cell phone capability: 2 cell phones
- Base Dimensions: 5.31" x 7" x 2.95" (13.5 x 17.8 x 7.5 cm) (H x W x D)
- Base Weight: 10.2 oz (290 g)
- Battery Life: 5 hours (talk time) or 11 days (standby)
- More information: https://www.panasonic.com
- Suggested price in the US: USD 80.00
[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]It is our conclusion that this is a much-needed device solves all of the problems that we encountered using our cell phones at home. You can keep your cell phone in one place where you can easily find it when you are on your way out the door and where you might be more prone to remember to charge it. You can extend your best cell coverage throughout the house. It allows you to have several phones throughout the house that all ring when your cell phone rings.The Link-to-Cell performed with the clarity and reception promised. Yet, it had problems that will be deal-breakers for many, including poor documentation, a complex menu system, and the ability to only talk on only one line at a time.Also, the unit itself is prone to problems like confusion with voice mail and connections that are difficult to re-establish when lost. If you get it working properly with your cell phones, you will be pleased. If not, the glitches may cause you more grief than it is worth. This is one device where you may want to wait for the next version, when hopefully, Panasonic will solve some of the hiccups. If you feel this is a device that could really be helpful to you right now, be sure to purchase from a source that will allow you to return the unit, just in case. The Link-to-Cell in its current state is a bit of a two-faced device. Some will love it. Some will hate it.Pros
- Lets you keep your cell phone in one place for easy retrieval and charging
- Good clarity
- Lets you place your cell phone in the area that has the best reception and allows you to get that reception throughout your home
- With additional cordless handsets, it lets you hear your cell ring throughout the house
- Very poor documentation
- Can be used only with Panasonic cordless handsets
- You can only talk on the landline or 1 cell phone at a time
- Not compatible with all cell phones
- Supports only two cell phones
- Short delay when connecting