We first identified Parliant’s PhoneValet as one of those rare, excellent Mac applications a couple of years ago.
Now at version 5.0, PhoneValet is mature, loaded with features, and a must have for home or small office.
Why? First, it works. PhoneValet sits on your Mac and monitors the phone line, just as your answering machine might do. PhoneValet is similar to a premium answering machine with even more premium features.
PhoneValet is really what it says it is. A valet for your phone. It keeps track of voice mail, incoming messages, announces messages, manages voice mailboxes, and makes detailed records of calls so you can reference later. It’ll even record calls.
Think of PhoneValet as a 24/7 answering service that uses your Mac. What else? Plenty. Relax. This may take awhile.
PhoneValet will place outbound calls, handle incoming calls, handle incoming faxes, route calls to various mail boxes, and, if you’re away, will send you an email message.
No, not just a message that says you received a call while you were out.
It will save the incoming voice mail message, compress it, and send the message via email, so you can hear the message wherever you are. Cool, huh?
Think of this scenario. You’re sitting at your Mac, working away. If you’re like most of us, you’ve got a few things going on all at once. Word processor, spreadsheet, email, iChat, browser, even iTunes music.
The phone rings. PhoneValet announces the caller using caller ID, so you’ll know quickly whether to pick up the call or let it ring.
If you pick up, PhoneValet pauses iTunes, sets iChat status to “on the phone,” and, depending on what you want, can record the incoming message, or record you and the caller talking so you can refer to the call later.
Important to any telephone messaging system is tracking. PhoneValet tracks your calls in a permanent call history. Even with multiple incoming lines, PhoneValet segregates the detail for each phone, each voice mail box, each conversation.
You’ll know who called whom, when they called, how long they talked. PhoneValet will also record the conversation. If you deal with clients and need tracking for billing, PhoneValet delivers the call’s history.
You’re not always at your Mac, so PhoneValet works 24/7 as a message center, answering calls, routing calls to voice mail. Even better is the “greeting” system.
PhoneValet uses caller ID and can identify each incoming caller. The information is displayed instantly on your Mac’s screen. If you’re not there, PhoneValet picks up the call.
Call profiles mean you can create a pre-recorded message or greeting, and apply it to each individual caller. Depending on who’s calling, PhoneValet knows who it is, and plays a personalized voice mail greeting, then save the call in voice mail, then send the message to you.
How’s that for pesonal service. Your answering machine can’t do that.
Let’s say you’re on the road. Your Mac is at home or office and handling incoming calls, but you don’t have access to email (it happens). Grab your cell phone and call PhoneValet.
PhoneValet can play voice mail messages back to you over the phone. While you’re on the phone you can tell PhoneValet to run an AppleScript, interface with the Mac-based X-10 home controller, and more.
More? Like record a conversation and burn it to CD for archiving. That’s more.
For the quaint world of faxes, PhoneValet will use the Mac’s built-in fax capability to store incoming faxes, or interface directly with the even more powerful PageSender.
PhoneValet even blocks unwanted callers or faxes. You can set PhoneValet to answer a call from a specific caller, and play back a custom message for that caller. Then hang up. They can’t even leave voice mail.
That’s perfect for ex-spouses, mothers-in-law, or bill collectors.
It’s also handy for college age kids who call for money and forget to say hello. Or, your parole officer wondering where you are.
PhoneValet also works with Mac OS X Tiger’s Spotlight search, so finding a message in a call log is easier than ever (though, honestly, it’s not difficult; scroll, for crying out loud).
A mature Mac application gets better over time. While my favorite feature is still the voice mail message sent to me via email, all the little touches are there, indicating that Parliant pays attention to the customer.
Got more than one phone line? Multi-lines are A-OK by PhoneValet. Setup and getting started could not be much easier. PhoneValet comes with a small USB “dongle.” Plug the dongle into your Mac’s USB port, then plug in the phone line to the dongle.
Install PhoneValet and reboot your Mac. Open the Message Center or PhoneValet, set the features, record the greetings, and start taking calls. Rather, let PhoneValet take the calls.
Click Here to check the features and details. I bought mine online and have used it for two years. It’s indispensible.
Do you think a Mac makes a good telephony device? Share your experience in the Comments section below.