If you're still holding on to your landline, consider upgrading your home handset with the VTech LS5145 Bluetooth Phone System ($150). This sleek system uses 5.8GHz technology for clear calls, supports both photo caller ID and Bluetooth to connect with your cell phone, and features a built-in answering system, a color LCD display, and the ability to work with up to 12 handsets.
Fact: Bluetooth headsets make you look like a tool — but we'll be damned if they're not useful. As far as usefulness goes, though, the Sennheiser VMX Office ($TBA) appears to be about as solid as can be. And with capabilities to connect to both your office phone and your cell, you can now look like a tool at work and on the go.
The Hulger Pappa Phone ($300) is a gorgeous solid walnut and brass USB handset that boasts plug-and-play compatibility with both Mac and PC, letting you chat in style over any VoIP service, including Skype, iChat, Vonage, and GoogleTalk. Since each one is handmade, it takes about 6 to 8 weeks to be delivered, but from the looks of it, it's well worth the wait.
If all you're craving in a mobile device is email (and lots of it), check out Peek ($100; Sept.). This slim, one-trick mobile device features a full QWERTY keyboard, a side scroll wheel for navigation, and will need a $20 a month subscription for unlimited emails on T-Mobile. Look for it to hit your local Target store next month. [Thanks, Horatio]
The Vtech IS6110 DECT 6.0 Digital Cordless Phone ($95) is the first cordless landline phone system with instant messaging capability, letting you chat with your BFF's from the couch. The Treo-like phone works with AIM, MSN, and Windows Live, and features a full QWERTY keyboard and a large color LCD screen. Other features include a click-to-talk option for instant voice chats, memory for 50 phonebook entries, caller ID and call waiting, and storage of the last 50 calls.
Shakespeare bust with hidden switch? Check. Red Batphone? Check. Young sidekick in weird tights? Uh, yeah, we'll think about that. In the meantime, this Commissioner Gordon-approved phone, just like the Caped Crusader's, lights up when a call comes in to your own Batcave.
If you're tired of waiting for your favorite bar or park to get Wi-Fi, do something about it and build a long-distance wireless network yourself. Using advanced mesh routing technology to increase range and network capacity, the Meraki Mini ($50) and Meraki Outdoor ($100) can extend your personal internet connection as far as you want, depending on how many of the repeaters you buy. Your connection can be shared with thousands of other laptop-toters for free, or kept private. If you're a wantrepreneur, you'll need to order the Pro Editons of the Meraki Mini ($150) and Meraki Outdoor ($200), which offer features for user management and billing.
Don't get us wrong — we really do like our iPhone Bluetooth Headsets, but they really can't compare to the Bang & Olufsen Earset 2 ($350). With specially designed vents and an advanced audio processor for more accurate voice reproduction, a protective carrying case that doubles as a charger, and automatic activation, the Earset 2 is best of the best when it comes to Bluetooth.
Belkin's sexy new N1 Vision Wireless Router ($200) has the brains to back up its beauty. The N1 features an interactive display that shows you the activity of your network, including download and upload speeds, bandwidth usage, and the number of connected devices. The router — compatible with IEEE 802.11g, 802.11b, 802.11n draft 2.0, and 802.3ab specs — also offers plug-and-play, CD-less installation for easy network setup.
While many cordless phones worked great when they were purchased, they don't get along so well with their new, wireless counterparts. The Vtech 6032 DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone ($60) solves this problem with its DECT technology, which uses new technologies for greater distance, clarity, and versatility — and it won't interfere with wireless networks and other electronics. Other features include a digital answering system, handset speakerphone, caller ID, call waiting, and a RAZR-esque keypad. [Thanks, Mark]
We've been waiting for something like this for a long time. Belkin's Wi-Fi Phone for Skype ($160) lets you make free calls to anyone using the Skype service — without being stuck in front of your computer. The phone connects to any free Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing you to access your Skype account and place free, unlimited domestic and international calls over the Internet to other Skype users. Low-cost calls can be made to regular phones worldwide. We've been playing with one for a couple weeks, and we'll never be without one again.
Never worry about dropping your home phone in the pool (or toilet) again with the Uniden WXI477 Waterproof Phone ($63). This 5.8GHz phone floats in water and is housed in submersible, waterproof plastic. A back-lit LCD provides on-screen data and the phone has a number of useful features including a 100-name phone book and call waiting/caller ID. Sealed buttons allow you to drunk dial without fear of frying your phone as you balance your beer can.