Posted by: reformedmusings | January 9, 2010

Dell Ubuntu Laptop and Panasonic KX-TG6445 Phone System

I posted on my wife’s Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop with Ubuntu 9.04 earlier. It has been working like a champ. My wife really has enjoyed unrestricted email access, and has even been doing some web shopping. Ubuntu has been perfect, requiring zero maintenance.

However, the 2.4GHz band in our house got overcrowded, which caused some real pain. Like most basic computer users, if anything goes wrong with the overall experience, one gets the plaintive cry: “The computer’s messing up!”

We’ve had a couple of 2.4 GHz phones for several years. They work great, but would knock anything on the WiFi connection off whenever anyone was on the phone. So, one cannot talk on the phone and simultaneously send or receive email or print on the laptop. I tried various approaches to deconflict them, but nothing worked reliably. After much frustration, I decided to use Christmas as an opportunity to put this problem to bed.

I bought us a Panasonic KX-TG6445T phone system from Amazon for Christmas. It works on the newer 1.9 GHz band and doesn’t interfere with anything in the house. It uses the DECT 6.0 protocol and only requires a single wired phone line to cover up to six extensions. The system comes with five phones plus the base station. The latter will work as a speaker phone, providing an overall 5.5 phones. The handsets run on 2 x rechargeable AAA batteries – an excellent and easy user-replaceable choice.

Setup proved trivial. Just charge the handsets after placing them around the house. Other than that, all I did was change one ringer. The system finds all the handsets on the system on its own, providing icons on the large displays so that you can easily see what’s going on with the system. The “in use” notice lets you know when someone is on another handset. Other useful messages tell you when you missed a call or that there’s a voicemail. The handsets also have LEDs the flash when they are charging or a voicemail is waiting. The handsets are small and light, plus they all have a speakerphone function plus a plug-in headset if you have some laying around that you like.

The system works as an internal intercom system. You can call any handset from any other using the simple menu system. One can also pick up and join in an outside call-in-progress from any or all handsets. We use the intercom feature a lot, as it’s much easier than walking up and down the stairs all the time. The only detractor is that you cannot name the handsets. They are preassigned numbers. So, I placed them in a logical order so that it’s easy to remember which one  is where. They may be more difficult in a different house layout, but works great here.

The base station also includes a digital answering machine, but we don’t use it. We have voicemail with our phone company which works just fine and we can access online.

Since setting up the KX-TG6445T system, the 2.4 GHz WiFi has been uninterrupted. I haven’t had a single “computer” complaint since. That’s a huge credit to Ubuntu, which just runs and runs. We have reached wireless Nirvana.

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