Over the past three years, the number of cell phone–only households jumped from 7 percent to 18 percent, and those with landlines are using them less and less. But what to do with that old cordless phone gathering dust? The XLink BT connects up to three cell phones to your cordless via Bluetooth, and it’s a dead-simple and useful device for those who get poor cell phone reception at home, or don’t like cradling their mobile for long periods of time.
At 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.5 inches, and weighing 13.3 ounces, the all-black XLink BT is small, light, and unobtrusive. Three buttons backlit in blue are on the top, indicating the connection status of any paired cell phones. A blinking blue light means that a cell phone isn’t paired, and a solid blue light indicates a steady connection. On another side are connections for power, a USB port, and a jack for plugging in your cordless phone. Another model, the XLink BTTN ($109), has a second phone jack for using the device along with a traditional landline service.
The XLink BT can work with up to three cell phones simultaneously, and pairing is easy; once you plug the device into a cordless phone and the power source, it goes into pairing mode. As the company notes, the range of the XLink is fairly limited—unlike other Bluetooth devices such as headsets, which have a range of about 30 feet, you can only move your phone about 10 feet away from the XLink before the call quality severely degrades. Then again, there’s no need to move your cell very far once you get home; you’ll be using your cordless to gab.
After we paired a Motorola Razr V3m from Sprint with the XLink BT, making calls with was simple; just pick up your cordless phone and dial as you would on any other phone. Calls sounded just the same as if we were using just our cell phone: clear, and with no drop-outs. It was nice being able to use a more ergonomic phone while talking for extended periods, and we didn’t have to worry about the battery in our cell dying, either, because it was plugged in.
One of the drawbacks of the XLink BT is that you’re limited by what your cordless phone can do. For example, the old cordless we used had a simple LCD screen that displayed the phone number of the incoming caller but not the name; newer cordless phones should display both types of data. However, your cordless won’t alert you to incoming text messages.
While you can connect the XLink BT to all the phones in a house using the existing wires, it will work only if there’s no landline service. For novices, this may prove a challenge, so chances are you’ll just have the device hooked up to one cordless phone. In this case, you should be able to have multiple handsets ring simultaneously, assuming you have setup with a base phone and one or more satellite handsets plugged into the wall for power.
The XLink BT’s USB port can be used to connect the device to a PC to update its firmware via the included XWizard software and to customize the ringers for different cell phones; it’s quick and easy to install, but doesn’t provide much more functionality. In the future, the company says that users will be able to use the device to make and receive Skype calls through a home phone.
If you have an old cordless phone gathering dust, and consistent cell phone reception is an issue throughout your home, then the XLink BT is a good investment. Setup is dead simple, and it works well. Although $80 is a lot to spend for a cell phone accessory, this device is worth the improvement for those who have a lot of minutes and want to talk in comfort.