EnGenius SN-920 Ultra Industrial Cordless Phone System
by Jim Hanks
Despite their ubiquity, mobile phones are still relatively
expensive. Service providers coax you into their plans with free
phones or package deals (while convincing you that they're saving you
money), but then you have to give your clients a second phone number
where they can reach you. And since cellular reception is often
impossible inside buildings, many people who work away from their
desks find themselves incommunicado for much of the day (and have to
check their voice mail constantly). There should be another option.
SN-920 Ultra Industrial Cordless Phone System provides an
alternative. By integrating 2-way radio capabilities with a very high
range cordless phone system, up to 36 workers in any complex under a
mile in diameter can be fully connected to a phone line and each
other. And if you hook up a regular phone to the base station to
serve as the central hub, you can have one employee answer all
incoming calls and direct them to employees' handsetsno matter
where they are in the building.
Whether you work in a hospital, a construction site, a
manufacturing plant, a warehouse, or an office building, the EnGenius
system allows you to reach your co-workers quickly, virtually for
free. No more watching how many minutes you've used this month, no
more worrying about coverage within your building, and no more
True to its name, the EnGenius is designed quite well. I only had
to look at the instructions once during setup when figuring out how
to get my base station into handset registration mode (press volume
and page simultaneously). I just plugged the AC power cord into the
base and connected my phone line to it. From beginning to end, setup
(including the base station and 2 handsets) took about 3 minutes.
Each EnGenius base station supports up to 9 digital, full-duplex
(priced at $199.99 each). If you like, you can add up to 3 additional
base stations on the same phone line. Or if you have multiple lines
in your office, connect a base station to each. EnGenius makes it
possible to have 36 interconnected extensions using 1 to 4 phone
lines. Whatever your configuration, all of your handsets can
communicate with one another using their 2-way radio features. To
avoid confusion, you can assign different rings to each handset and
names can be programmed to appear on the LCD's idle screen.
Using the 2-way radio features does not require a base station for
signal transmissions. For example, if 2 people take their handsets on
a business trip (without a base station), they still have use of the
2-way radio. So when co-workers need to go off site (even just down
the street), they can stay connected.
Exceptional range is the major selling point of the EnGenius system. When testing the product, I was able to
retain a phone line connection from five times the distance supported
by a typical 2.4 GHz cordless phone. With a relatively clear line of
sight to the base station, I could walk one-half mile before losing
my caller. When buildings and other obstructions were present,
reception was reduced to one-quarter mile; still a very respectable
These same figures held true for 2-way radio operation, though
range was a bit better when I switched each handset from its standard
antenna to the slightly longer, non-retractable antenna (included).
external antenna for the base station (priced at $99.99) can also
be purchased to increase the range for telephone conversations.
Handset design and durability
I only have one complaint about the EnGenius phone system: the handsets are
somewhat heavy. If you are using the handset often, especially from your desk,
you'll be well served by purchasing a headset
adapter (priced at $19.99) and plugging in a Hello
Of course, the handsets' weight does make them seem more durable.
"Keyguard" is the first option you get when accessing the main
menu. Once activated, "Keypad Locked" is displayed on the LCD along
with the directions for unlocking. This feature prevents workers from
tying up a line by accidentally pressing the TALK button.
Like many cell phones on the market today, most features are
prompted by the backlit LCD and accessed using the up and down scroll
buttons, thereby keeping button clutter to a minimum. These scroll
buttons can also be used to access the 30-name phone book and the
30-number Caller ID log. Standard features such as hold, mute,
redial, and Call Waiting are also supported.
Batteries and recharging cradles
Each EnGenius handset has its own nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. Similar in design
to many cellular phone batteries, they snap onto the handset backs
and can be recharged while attached. However, unlike cellular phone
batteries, the EnGenius versions can be fully recharged in only 80
minutes. If a battery already has a little charge on it, it will be
fully powered even quicker.
Each charging cradle provides 2 compartments: one to accommodate a
handset with the battery attached and one to accommodate a battery by
itself. So if you have multiple handsets in your department, you can
position the charging cradles in strategic locations, enabling 2
employees to recharge from the same place at the same time (one of
them will have to remove the battery from the phone). Or keep a fully
charged spare battery ready and waiting. On a full charge, handsets
have 3 hours of talk time and 40 hours of standby time.
Base station features
The base station's design is simple, serving primarily as a relay
station for handsets using the phone line. Since the base station
does not have a dialpad, you might want to attach a regular telephone
to serve as the central hub and set the handsets to receive only
transferred and 2-way radio calls. Then an operator can answer all
incoming calls, page the appropriate extension to announce a caller,
and then transfer the call. However, if you have just a few employees
and would rather not appoint someone as an operator, you can set the
handsets to receive incoming calls directly and attach an answering
machine to the base station to field those that go unanswered.
Additionally, an audio-in jack at the back of the base station supports a message or music-on-hold system.
The page button on the base station rings all of the handsets registered to it. The first handset that answers is then
connected with the base. This is great for any office that has
multiple employees that perform similar tasks (sales departments,
customer support, trading floors, restaurants, etc.) since whichever
employee is currently available can answer the page.
The EnGenius phone system is excellent for any business that
needs to deliver prompt customer service or requires instant
communication between colleagues not working together in the same
department or on the same floor. By integrating a powerful cordless
phone with 2-way radio communication, teamwork is encouraged and
local toll calls become free. For $380, it's a very good deal.
|What I Liked Best
||What I Didn't Like
- Easy setup
- 2-Way radio capabilities
- Excellent range
- Fast battery recharging
- Durable design
- Great design
- Music-on-hold capability