There are some applications that are naturals for the Mac. Phone Valet is one of the best.
If you need voice mail, an answering machine, some one to record and log your calls, spoken caller ID, and remote control, Phone Valet does it. Only on a Mac.
Sometimes we are sufficiently excited about various Mac-based products that we get to review them again when new releases hit the street. Parliant’s Phone Valet has a new version. Now look what your Mac can do.
Phone Valet is a mature, stable application that acts like a sophisticated voice mail system. Except it’s affordable and works on your Mac.
The box gives you a CD with the Phone Valet applications, and a small USB device. Your phone line plugs into the USB device, and the USB device plugs into your Mac. Install the software and you’re ready to go.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got voice mail fever. There’s voice mail on my cell phone. There’s voice mail at the office. There’s an answering machine at home. Well, there was. Now it’s Phone Valet.
Phone Valet does a few things my cell phone and office phone cannot do. Multiple voice mail boxes. Faxes. Voice recording, and more.
Voice Mail gives you up to 11 mailboxes, each mailbox has a separate greeting. Even small businesses can use Phone Valet for employees, announcements, etc.
The greetings and announcements can be recorded on your Mac and played back to your callers. Better yet, you can also set up Phone Valet to send you an email message when you get a call.
Oh, it’s not just an email message that says, “You have received a call…” It’s the actual voice message, compressed (if you like) to a voice recording and sent to you via email. You can actually listen to the voice message on your Mac (or, on a Windows PC).
Amazingly, our expensive voice mail system at work doesn’t do that. My Mac does.
You can record the voice mail greeting, type the message and have Phone Valet speak it to your caller (using the Mac’s speech system), or have a pro do the recording and simply import the greeting.
I hate taking notes. Phone calls only make it worse because I have to hold the phone AND write at the same time. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to record the phone call?
Phone Valet will record the phone call, let you play it back when you need it. You can even email the recording to someone else. The Call Log makes it easy.
Not only is the recording feature handy for business notes, you can also record the voice messages (and keep them for use in iMovie, iTunes, or an iPhoto slide show) of family and friends who call on special occasions.
It’s great for conference calls (you’re at home, the conference call is for business) and you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the call. My cell phone won’t do that, either.
Call Log & Tracking
I’m a nut for tracking things. Phone Valet provides you with a log for each call. You’ll get the time and date and length, of course. There’s also a log entry of the phone number using Caller ID.
If you use Phone Valet for outbound calls, it’ll track that, too. What you get is a list of all incoming and outgoing calls through Phone Valet. Everything.
Mac OS X does a great job of letting other applications use OS X applications. Phone Valet can use the AddressBook so you can click once and the call is dialed for you.
Oh, the Call Log isn’t just a long list of calls. OS X is searchable, right? So is Phone Valet’s call log. Data is stored in a database so you can browse, sort, narrow, report, export.
If I like to track things, I also want to control things. Sorry. It’s a disease.
Phone Valet will let you dial up your Mac using a cell phone or from another location. Five remote control functions are provided for each call. Speak text. Play an audio file, speak iCal events, and more.
Remote Control has a friendly configuration panel and uses a secret code that only you know (so someone else can’t dial in and listen to your messages).
How About Faxes?
Your Mac already does faxes. So does Phone Valet. It will detect an incoming fax and direct Mac OS X’s fax feature to answer the call and store the fax.
However, OS X’s fax features are limited. Smile On My Mac’s PageSender is not, and integrates perfectly with Phone Valet.
For those of you who love the geeky stuff, Phone Valet is Apple Scriptable and comes with scripts for FilerMaker Pro and Entourage. You can even dial in remotely and have your Mac execute Automator or Applescripts.
Got a small business with multiple phone lines? No problemo. Phone Valet does multiple lines with multiple USB devices.
We did a review of Phone Valet last year. One of the requests was a ‘pulsating red screen’ which would alert you to a call (an answering machine has a blinking red light, your Mac does not). That request has been including in an alert in the Mac menu bar.
What’s the downside? Great Mac applications and products don’t have a downside. Duh.
MacWorld gave it 4.5 mice for the 2.x version last year. Phone Valet‘s new version is 3.x and includes more features.
I can’t give Phone Valet Five Stars. How about 4.5? I still want a pulsating red screen that tells me a message is waiting.