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Synchroscan

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The Price:
  • $60
The Pros:
  • Incredibly convenient
  • Knows which numbers are local and which are long distance
  • Can dial an additional digit for an outside line

The Cons:
  • Kind of pricey
  • Analog phone lines only

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Parley Dialer Review
By Ed Hardy
11/08/2001


Overview
The Parley Dialer is a sort of adapter that lets your handheld talk with your phone via infrared, passing phone numbers wirelessly.

Hardware
It's a small black box that sits beside the phone. It is 3 by 2.7 by 1.1 inches. Your phone line needs to run into the Dialer before going into the phone. It comes with a short phone cord that takes care of this.

Unfortunately, the Parley Dialer is limited to analog phone lines. It won't work with the digital lines that are used by most large companies. But small business and home users shouldn't have any problems.

I asked someone at Synchroscan about this and he said they are working on a digital line version. It is more complicated than you might think because all digial phone lines don't handle dialing the same.

On one side is an infrared port for communicating with the Palm. This is sometimes a bit finicky. I had to hold my Palm directly in front of the Dialer and within a few feet.

On the top is a LED that changes color to indicate status.

Operation
It would tough find an easier to use gadget than the Parley Dialer. Just look up the phone number you want to dial in the built-in Address Book on your Palm, beam it to the Dialer, then pick up the phone and the number will be automatically dialed.

If the Dialer has successfully received the number, a green light on top blink. If there was some problem, a red one will. Pushing the button on the top will reset it. You can also use this button to redial the last number.

I used the Dialer with at least three different Palm OS handhelds of different makes and models and it worked with all of them without a hitch.

Area Codes
The Parley Dialer needs to know which phone numbers are local and which are long distance. You take care of this by programming it with your area code. Just create a fake address on your Palm and beam it a phone number that is just your area code. It's smart enough to know that a 3-digit number isn't a real phone number and it will store it permanently as your area code.

To complicate life, I live in an area with 10-digit dialing where no less than three area codes are local calls. The Parley Dialer rose to the challenge beautifully. It can hold four different area codes as being local calls. So if I dial a number with one of my three, it dials all ten digits. If I dial a number that isn't, the Dialer knows to put a 1 in front of it.

Many people have to dial a 9 to get an outside line. For some people this is an 8 instead. Anyway, the Dialer can handle this, too. Do the same thing you did for the area code except put in the digit you need. When got my demo copy it was already programmed to dial a 9; I had to program it with a 0 to get it to stop.

Software
By default, the number that gets dialed is the one you have set as "Show in List" in the address' details. One of the ways to generate an error with the Parley Dialer is if this default is set to be an email address.

Another possible difficulty is there are almost certainly people whom you frequently call at different numbers. Don't be concerned, there is a simple solution for this.

There is a free application you can download from Synchroscan that will let you easily choose which phone number to dial. It is basically a clone of the built-in Address Book with one additional function. On each address, there has been added a button labeled ''IR dial''. Pushing this will open a window with all five possible phone numbers listed as large buttons. Pushing one of these will dial that number.

They are working on a more advanced application that will help you keep track of who you called, for how long, and more.

Conclusion
As someone who makes phone calls all day long as part of his job, I love this thing. At $60 it isn't cheap but I think it will be worth it to its target market.

Its only downside is I'm even more dependent on my Palm than ever before because no longer learn any phone numbers. I haven't had to dial one in weeks.

If you are frequently looking up numbers in your Palm, why not save yourself some trouble and have the number dialed for you?

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Cool idea but $60 is steep

digilaw @ 11/8/2001 2:52:01 PM #
Any idea if this will come down in price any time soon?

RE: Cool idea but $60 is steep
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 3:19:40 PM #
A little cheaper would be nice but I do not think that $60.00 is out of line. Thanks for the article Ed,

morningtar1844@hotmail.com

RE: Cool idea but $60 is steep
Doug @ 11/8/2001 5:31:17 PM #
There is an introductory offer of 20% off ($12.00) for sales this month (just enter "early500" in the coupon field when ordering online.)

Prism
RE: Cool idea but $60 is steep
Doug @ 11/8/2001 6:13:40 PM #
The coupon code "Infocenter" now also works for 20% off. These codes are not posted elsewhere, so spread the word.

Prism

For Lazy Bums

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 3:34:09 PM #
Uhhh this has to be for one heck of a lazy couch potato bastard. <G> :P

RE: For Lazy Bums
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 3:54:47 PM #
I agree. How hard is it to dial a 10 digit number?

RE: For Lazy Bums
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 3:57:47 PM #
One 10 digit number is easy. How about 30 a day? Or 40. Or 50. If you don't make that many calls a day, this thing ain't for you. But I DO make that many calls to clients on a regular day. I like it!

RE: For Lazy Bums
Doug @ 11/8/2001 5:18:47 PM #
Dialing the phone is second nature because we do it everyday, and we have for decades. But if you are looking up the number anyway in your handheld, why read the number off of the screen, think about the 9's, 1's and area codes, and press 7 to 12 buttons on the phone, when it can be done automatically with one touch on your handheld?

It's just like power windows, keyless entry, radio station preset buttons, etc. You don't realize what a pain the old way of doing things is until after using a better way.

Prism

RE: For Lazy Bums
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/9/2001 5:31:18 AM #
I uses me fingers.

Pick up handset?

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 5:08:46 PM #
Uhhh do you have to pick up the handset first then beam the number?
Or just directly beam it, then it gives the green light then pick up the handset?

RE: Pick up handset?
Doug @ 11/8/2001 5:38:59 PM #
Either way works.

Prism

How about a dialer for cell phones.

I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 5:09:38 PM #
Is it possible? Probably not all, but it would be nice!

RE: How about a dialer for cell phones.
Doug @ 11/8/2001 5:39:59 PM #
The Parlay Dialer is bundled with software that allows dialing of properly equipped cell phones too. You don't need to use the hardware when dialing the cell phone - just beam the number with 1 tap, and the call starts ringing without having to touch the cell phone. The software also allows one handed operation of the handheld using a thumb instead of a stylus to search and dial names.

Prism
RE: How about a dialer for cell phones.
I.M. Anonymous @ 11/8/2001 7:00:33 PM #
Hmmm, Works right of the box for me with my m505, in-built address application and my Nokia 6210. Might be cheaper to get the OS 4.1 update next week if you have a compatible cell phone already.

Great idea but.....

Trevethan @ 11/9/2001 5:51:04 AM #

Bet it won't work in Europe though....

Nick Trevethan

Devon
UK

RE: Great idea but.....
dagger2k @ 11/9/2001 7:37:16 PM #
I guess it won't, unless the long distance preffix is 1. Mine is zero for nationwide long distance, double zero for international long distance, and 15 (which isn't an area code but I bet it will be considered one) as a preffix for cellphones

I WANT A CLIÉ
RE: Great idea but.....
Doug @ 11/14/2001 6:52:27 PM #
The current version of the dialer only accepts 7 or 10 digit numbers, or 10 digit numbers preceeded by a 1, but the next version to be released in a month or two will allow literal dialing of whatever number is beamed to it. However, CE certification and non-English documentation will take a bit longer.

Prism
RE: Great idea but.....
Doug @ 11/14/2001 6:56:54 PM #
. . . and extension numbers are currently ignored.

Prism
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