|Centrepoint TalkSwitch Phone Systems
by Jim Hanks
When most people consider replacing or installing a phone system, they tend to
think of large, expensive equipment and hefty installation costs. Not anymore.
Thanks to Centrepoint's TalkSwitch 24 and TalkSwitch 48-NLS, systems have
gotten smaller, less expensive, and easier to use.
About half the size of an average laptop computer, TalkSwitch systems are equipped
with intercom, call transfer, voice mail, auto-attendant, multiple extensions,
and ring grouping, plus call bridging, customizable call cascading, and call
parking. And because TalkSwitch connects to your computer, setup and operation
are quite simple. The TalkSwitch system's best feature, though, is the price:
a mere $699.99 for the 2-line, 4
fixed and 8 remote extension model
, and $1,399.99 for the 4-line 8
fixed and 8 remote extension system.
A unique advantage
Since features are usually hidden within most systems, configuring a PBX generally
requires a healthy sit-down with the operating instructions and at least 15
minutes of listening to and answering voice prompts. But not with TalkSwitchand
here's its distinct advantage over other PBXs. It connects to your PC via USB
or serial port, so the TalkSwitch system can be customized through well-designed
software menus. Most people will rarely even need to consult the manual during
An abundance of features
Once you plug in the power cord and connect your 2 incoming phone lines to the
TalkSwitch 24, you'll have access to 4 internal and 8 external extensions. The
TalkSwitch 48-NLS accepts 4 incoming phone lines and gives you another 4 internal
extensions for a total of 8 internal and 8 external. Plus, you can network up
to four 48-NLS units together for one 16-line, 32-extension system. Either unit
can accommodate a public address (PA) system, music-on-hold devices, modems,
and fax machines. Some of the other features found on both systems are covered
Employees who work at a location other than the main office can set up external
extensions. When a caller requests such an extension, the call will be transferred
to the designated offsite telephone number. External extensions have their own
voice mail and provide remote workers with full access to other TalkSwitch features
as well. Employees who occasionally work from home can also set their regular
extensions to forward calls to their homes. In fact, any company or individual,
particularly in the medical field, might find this application especially useful
when constant contact needs to be maintained.
Once all of your extensions are in place, you can determine how calls are handled
with the call cascade feature. Set the auto-attendant to greet callers, then
ring one or all extensions. Have a single extension receive incoming calls and
let the call roll over to other extensions when unanswered. Forward calls to
employees' cell phones during business trips. All of these options are possible
and easy to set up from your computer.
Companies often lose a lot of money because their remote and traveling workers
are unable to take advantage of their corporate long-distance plan. These companies
also have to deal with administration costs associated with reimbursements.
But using a TalkSwitch system, employees can call in to the office, and use
company phone lines to make long-distance calls. And if they don't want to pay
the initial 1-minute charges, employees can call in, wait for 2 rings, then
hang up. Shortly thereafter, TalkSwitch will return the calls and employees
will have full access to the system againas if they were in the office.
Unfortunately, only 25 minutes of total recording time are available for all
of the extensions. This is the only shortcoming of the system, in my mind. When
you consider how much space is used for outgoing greetings and auto-attendant
messages, 25 minutes isn't enough for companies using all of their extensions.
You can purchase memory upgrades for the TalkSwitch 48-NLS system, however.
Each one of these memory cards provides an additional 60
minutes or 120
minutes of recording space.
In addition to the unique features listed above, TalkSwitch systems have many
- Call queue - TalkSwitch extensions can handle multiple calls simultaneously.
Each call is kept in order (on hold) so an employee can rotate through them
when the current call is finished. Meanwhile, an on-hold caller is given the
option to wait or to leave a message in the employee's mailbox.
- Auto-Attendant - 9 different auto-attendant messages can be recorded, whereas
other systems allow only 1. Through TalkSwitch's "mode scheduling,"
different messages can be used for different times of the day.
- Caller ID/distinctive rings - because TalkSwitch holds calls for 1 ring
before passing them on to the initial extension, Caller ID information is
immediately displayed when a call is received. To further identify callers,
employees can designate certain Caller ID information to generate alternate
- Ring grouping - allows you to ring specific phones or a group of phones
when a call is received or transferred.
- Call park - if you need to check a file in another room while you are on
a call, you can temporarily park the call and then retrieve it from another
phone connected to the system.
- Versatility - TalkSwitch systems work with analog phone lines and Centrex
systems. They can also be set up behind PBX systems.
Both TalkSwitch systems are easy to use and swift to set up. They're loaded
with conveniences, and they're functionally diverse. Personally, it was the
flexibility that won me over. My clients didn't have to first call my office
number, then my home number, and then my mobile number, in order to find me.
They called just 1 number, and TalkSwitch did all the legwork. Meanwhile, I
didn't have to constantly check 3 different voice mailboxes to make sure I hadn't
missed a call!
I Liked Best
I Didn't Like
- Call bridging/call-back
- Call cascade
- Multiple internal and external extensions
- Savings on long-distance calls for remote and traveling workers
- Centralizes all your phones and voice mailboxes
- Low cost