Talk Amongst Yourselves

August 24, 2009

in tech

We just purchased a few new phones to replace our aging tin cans on a string at home. On the sage advice of some other techies I know, we purchased a few phones based on the DECT standard. IMHO, one of the coolest things about the DECT phones is they freakin’ talk to each other.

I know this sounds like one of those “Primitive man fascinated by shiny objects” little exclamations (it sounds so ridiculously naive to even me as I say it, especially given my background), but hey, it is sooo COOL that the headsets sync stuff like phonebook information amongst themselves (I guess via the base station) and I didn’t have to do jack to make that happen besides provide one POTS connection and plug in a few power bricks. I guess I’m so used treating every single handset in my life as a completely separate entity that this idea really impressed me. I wanted to walk into the kitchen and stare reproachfully at all of the appliances there and say “So, what’s wrong with you guys? How come you aren’t sharing information? The phones can do it.”

The one other cool, though less unexpected thing these phones do is treat the caller id information that comes in every time the phone rings as something I might care about. I think it is a no-brainer that I might want to use this information to add information to the phones'(!) phonebooks or block subsequent calls from a certain caller and now that’s available. They also keep their internal clock in sync with the telco’s signals, another nice touch.

I suppose you get all of this cool stuff if you start to play with VoIP (e.g. get into the Asterisk game), but for a consumer experience it was a surprise.

No, really. They talk to each other.

P.S. Warning: DECT phones have some relatively recently discovered security vulnerabilities (I know, what doesn’t? but they were new to me, I hadn’t seen them in my usual infostream). It looks like the best source of info about these vulnerabilities is this site here. See the thesis published (right hand column) for the best description of the issue and a list of phones they tested.

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