How good can it be? Just great, I’d say. After much anticipation, I’ve received and set up the new, $19.95 (list) Casio PhoneMate TA-105. Most of you will not need nor want more than what this little gem has to offer and you will be well satisfied with the features and performance.
• Manufacturer – Casio PhoneMate, Torrance, CA
• Model – TA-105
• Price – $19.95 (List)
• One year warranty
• All-digital TAD (Telephone Answering Device) with 18 minutes of digital recording for incoming messages and outgoing greeting
• One OGM (Outgoing Message)
• Voice/Time/Day Stamp – Announces the time and day of each message during playback at the machine and in remote operation
• Voice-assisted operation uses synthesized voice to confirm machine functions and commands
• Remote operation with Voice Menu to assist users in selecting any desired functions while calling in to retrieve messages (with three-digit access code)
• Selective Message Erase – save or erase specific message(s) during playback
• Call Screening – hear who is calling before answering the call
• New Message Indicator – flashes rapidly to indicate new messages, flashes slowly after messages have been played and saved.
• Talking Clock – announces the time at the press of a button
• Power Failure Protection – 9V battery back-up (battery not included)
• Auto Extension Disconnect – answer calls from any extension and the TA-105 automatically stops recording
• OGM bypass – callers can bypass the OGM by pressing the “#” key (feature not documented in manual)
• Ring Select with Tollsaver – select automatic answering on two rings, four rings or Tollsaver (answers on four rings if no new messages, two rings if there is a new message). Hang up after the third ring for no charge checking in to find no messages waiting!
• Remote Turn-on – call in, activate the TA-105 remotely
• Short Burst/Cellular Compatible – some phones, especially cellular, emit short bursts of tones (what the TA-105 responds to) when the keys are pressed, even if the keys are held down
• Can be set to ring like a phone when a call comes in
• Low Battery Indicator
Look and Feel
The TA-105 has clean, contemporary styling with six buttons on the front face, a volume slider on the left side and the ring selector on the rear. Some of the buttons serve multiple functions that are explained in the foldout owner’s guide, but are not obvious without the guide.
The unit is equipped with a hard-wired six-foot phone cord that plugs in to the wall jack. An RJ-11 phone jack on the rear of the TA-105 accepts a phone cord so you won’t lose a phone location when this answering machine is plugged in. Pretty standard stuff.
To set the time, for example, tap the Time/Set button twice quickly to hear the day announced. Tap the Erase button until the correct day is spoken. Press the Time/Set button again to toggle to the hour announcement, then tap the erase key until the correct hour is spoken, etc.
To record the greeting, press and hold the Record button until it beeps and then hear, “Please record your greeting.” When finished recording, tap the Greeting Record button again to stop and listen to the greeting played. Re-record as needed.
Other functions have similar ease of use, but it’s important to read and follow the directions in order to learn and access the many features and functions available. Thankfully, instructions are simply stated with easy to follow graphics and uncomplicated directions.
Here is another example:
Playback at the machine is straightforward. Just press the big, Play/Pause button. Only the new messages will be played. To hear saved messages after new messages have been played, listen to the beep to confirm that all new messages have been played, and then push the Play/Pause button again. All the messages will be played in the order received.
The remote access code is permanently assigned and indicated on a sticker on the bottom of the machine. Basic remote operation is easy. Call in and enter the access code during the playing of the OGM and the new messages begin automatically. After new message playback, the voice menu prompts for further functions: Pressing “1” replays, “2” saves, “3” erases and “0” replays the voice menu. Press “*” to repeat, press “*” twice to skip backwards and “#” to skip.
Some users might find it helpful to carry a note with the remote instructions written for quick reference. Most users, I believe, will get the hang of it without additional help and will do fine following the voice menu.
My expectations were not high. After all, what could be expected from a $20 answering machine? Poor voice quality? Seriously incomplete feature list? Difficult to use? Short total time for recorded messages? Poor implementation of remote features?
What I discovered was a surprisingly well executed design and a fine performing answering machine with little lacking for most users. I was genuinely, pleasantly surprised.
The voice quality is quite good, both of the synthesized voices and the sound of the played back recorded messages. No one calling has commented about poor voice quality. When polled, callers said they heard my OGM quite clearly. My family and I have found the quality of the played back messages to be clear and easily understood, whether listening at the machine or listening remotely. In short, this may be the bargain of all answering machines currently on the market.
After dissecting the features list above, you may be wondering what features could possibly be missing. They are few, but here they are:
• No skip-through-the-message feature. Hear it all (or until the point you press the skip button) or skip it all.
• No repeat message feature at unit, remote feature only
• No memo record feature
• Some machines maintain settings and messages without battery backup for several hours.
• No numeric display to show how many messages are waiting
• Some machines have two OGM capabilities, or an “announce only” feature to play a greeting but not take a message
• Single mailbox for incoming messages
I can’t think of any other basic or high-end features that could be included at anywhere near this price point. Can you?
Unless you want some of these “missing” features, why pay more and why buy a fancier machine? The Casio PhoneMate TA-105 is a winner!