Apple says the Mac is the center of the digital hub. The Mac connects to your digital camera (with iPhoto), your cell phone (via iSync, AddressBook, and iCall), your video camera (via iMovie), creates CDs and DVDs with iMovie, connects to your iPod or MP3 player with iTunes, and your musical creativity and imagination with GarageBand.
What’s left? The phone? Yes, the phone is now a part of the digital hub with a PhoneValet™.
And what’s left is just right. Parliant’s PhoneValet should be a part of your digital hub (home or office).
PhoneValet is an answering machine on steriods for your Mac. In true Mac form, PhoneValet is just that. A valet for your phone. An application that takes care of your SOHO (Small office, Home office) telephone needs.
It answers your phone, plays whatever message you want, directs your callers to different mail boxes for each person, plays individual mail box recordings, and will forward a copy of the message to you via email.
That’s right. You get a recording of the answering machines recordings. Via email. It’s cool and it works great.
Out of the box, PhoneValet consists of a CD with two basic applications, a USB cable, and a small USB device to attach to your telephone line. As you’d expect with any excellent Mac application, installation is a breeze.
Connect the phone line to the USB device. Connect the USB device to the Mac with the USB cable. Install the application.
The result is two applications. PhoneValet, used for setting up your Mac to be the MOAAMM (mother of all answering machines for your Mac)—the answering machine. And the Message Center, used to list all incoming calls, caller information, and to notify you of calls.
What? Notification? My answering machine simply blinks at me.
Yes, PhoneValet will notify you of incoming calls. First, a notification splash window comes to the front of the screen which (if you have caller ID) tells you who’s calling and displays their phone number.
What? It “tells” who’s calling?
Yep. And notification comes a number of ways. First, the screen notification. That’s easy to see. A “splash screen” notifies you of the caller’s ID and phone number. Set up your Mac to “speak” and PhoneValet will actually talk to you—it “speaks” the callers identity.
Save the identity in your Address Book, and PhoneValet will speak whatever name you give it; attached to that person’s phone number.
That’s way cool.
Wait. There’s more. PhoneValet also sends you an email and lets you know who called. It will actually send the phone message as an attachment so you can listen to the message without being anywhere near the phone, your Mac, your home.
The email message can be in Windows .wav format, Mac ACC format, or a highly compressed general sound format (all new Macs can play it right in the finder and inside Apple’s Mail application; some newer Windows machines can play it).
“PhoneValet also sends you an email and lets you know who called. And it will also send you the message so you can hear it.”Regardless, it’s way cool. No more waiting until you get home to find out who called. PhoneValet sends you a message that someone called. And it sends the message so you can hear that, too.
All the standard answering machine features are there, too. Set the number of rings before answer, import names and numbers from your Mac AddressBook, answer and store and print incoming faxes.
What? There’s more?
Yes, PhoneValet even does faxes. It will save them, email them to you, print them. Use Mac OS X’s fax capability to send faxes, of course. Or, use the very capable and feature friendly and capable PageSender.
To receive faxes AND manage your phone callse, PhoneValet is still your friend. I’m telling you. Life is good with this digital hub thing.
Parliant’ss PhoneValet is a $199 device that can be essential to any SOHO. Right now, it runs 24/7 on a little iMac stuck in a corner of the home office. It’s been 24/7 since mid-July 2004 when it was plugged in. We still use the iMac as a backup server for files and email.
To make your phone a part of the digital hub all you’ll need is a Mac running OS X (Panther), a free USB port, and PhoneValet. Click Here to visit the Parliant web site and get more information.
What’s wrong with PhoneValet? Not much. Isn’t $199 a bit pricey? A good telephone answering system will range from $50 to $200 (sometimes more). PhoneValet has all the basic features but includes multi-line capability, multiple voice mail boxes for different users (with custom messages), so it’s very competitive with more expensive, stand-alone devices, but not the bargain bin answering machine.
Being able to receive an email message with a recording of the caller’s voice message is worth plenty.
What else does it need? Not much. What I’d really like is a little red blinking light on the Mac screen. I use the energy saver to darken the screen on my iMac, so there’s no way to know a call was received unless I move the mouse or check email. Some kind of external “notification” is required.
That’s it. PhoneValet is nice. It just works.