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Reviews Categories | Ham Shack Accessories | XLink Cellular/Landline Interface Help


Reviews Summary for XLink Cellular/Landline Interface
XLink Cellular/Landline Interface Reviews: 2 Average rating: 4.5/5 MSRP: $99
Description: The XLink BT connects up to three cell phones to regular corded or cordless telephones
Product is in production.
More info: http://www.myxlink.com/index.aspx
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K9JCS Rating: 4/5 Jan 20, 2010 18:42 Send this review to a friend
XLINK --Drop your wireline phone service  Time owned: 0 to 3 months
After two months of research, I went with the basic XLink model. It represented the best solution for me.

My goal was to drop my wireline phone with AT&T and replace it with a cell phone to save about 35 bucks a month. I worked with my existing cell phone company to port my old landline number to a new cell phone. My cell carrier will add an additional cell phone for 10 bucks a month which shares the minutes of my existing plan.

After being notified that the number porting had been activated I started the change over at home. I disconnected all phone circuits from the telco wiring at my basement telephone panel. (I did leave the circuit to my AT&T DSL connected to the telco wiring from the demarcation box outside. I didn't drop the DSL service.) I then combined all of the now disconnected branch circuits together---all red wires together, all green wires together, but still disconnected from the telco wiring.

With the wiring complete I went upstairs to activate the box. Plug in a phone cord from the box to one of your phone outlets and connect the power wall wart. There are three marked blue buttons on the top. By pressing a numbered button, it will flash and you pair your cell phone via bluetooth to that button. When the button is solidly illuminated you are connected to the box. You can pair a total of three cell phones to the XLink box. Make sure you pair the cell phone you want to have priority to button #1.

The rings are distinct for each of your cell phones. Phone #1 has repeated single rings. Phone #2 has repeated double rings, and not so surprisingly, phone #3 has three repeated rings.

Don't move your cell phone too far from the box. Remember, Bluetooth range is pretty limited. I just leave my new cell phone with my old landline number right next to the box. The voice quality is just as good as the wireline. The people I normally talk to on the phone couldn't tell any difference. I did some testing with the linked cellphone at various distances. The voice quality varied from scratchy to real scratchy to unusable the further I moved from the box (15 feet down half a flight of stairs) If you plan to use this carrying your cell around the house you are going to be disappointed.

With an incoming call the XLink makes enough ringing current to ring all of my old landline phones, which are now connected to the box through the house telephone wiring. When the phone rings you can answer it with the cell phone or with any of the phones previously connected to Ma Bell's copper. If you answer a call with your cell phone that's it...You and the caller are the only ones who can participate in the call. If you answer a call with one of the old handsets, you can yell downstairs for the XYL to pick up the phone and you can both talk or you can hang up your handset so your XYL can talk to your mother in law. You can make calls from any of your old handsets.

I haven't figured out yet how to make my old answering machine take messages. Missed calls seem to go to cell phone voice mail.

My research has indicated that if you need dial up internet connection, this will not work. I haven't tried dial up yet so I can't confirm this.
I don't see any reason that this shouldn't work with a phone patch, although I have not tried that yet.

Caller ID does work, sort of. Where you usually see the name on your caller ID display you will now see XLink instead. You will see the number calling you, though.

With the cost of a new phone plus the cost of the XLink box ($70 at Amazon), I figure that the savings will give me a break even point in about four months. If you use an existing cell phone, the break even is even sooner.

The only real negative of this setup is 911 service. 911 still works, BUT. After a conversation with the village police communications supervisor I discovered that my location is now only accurate to about a hundred yards. It is no longer tied to my street address. Just remember if you need 911 services you MUST give your street address.

It has worked well for me and I only wish I had made this change sooner. Now I can start using my monthly savings for a new HF radio.



 
WD4MTW Rating: 5/5 Jan 20, 2010 14:23 Send this review to a friend
Seemless Local Loop Transition  Time owned: 6 to 12 months
Many of us learned a valuable lesson after Hurricane Andrew here in Miami. The cellular networks continued to operate even though most of the landline infrastructure was down. Nearly 17 years later, nothing much has changed. After both Katrina and Wilma which were minimal storms by the time they reached us, we had no landline service or power for over a week. Predictably, the cell phones continued to operate.

A few years after Andrew, I was servicing a DC remote at a local hospital. There were two guys from an alarm company that were installing keyed enclosures on the wall near the telephone line breakout panels. These contained the old style moblile cell phones with the remote handsets and a switching system. If the local loop was interrupted to key extensions, the line would be switched to the cell phone. A few years later, I seen an intergrated unit that worked similar for use aboard a ship. Local loop on board using regular store bought telephones automatically swiched from cell phone to shore landline when connected at the dock. Neat idea.

It wasn't until my wife and I moved into our current house did I give this a second thought. Each time it rained heavily, the phone lines would get very staticy and loose dialtone for hours or sometimes days during prolonged weather. The local carrier was of no help resolving the problem which would go away when everything dried up. When we switched cell carriers and to a Nokia phone, I found a device called a Cell Socket. Basically a desk top charger that connected to an external antenna and had a built in local loop interface. Neat idea and paid for itself many times over. All the phones in the house on the local loop were interconnected to the cell phone seemlessly. Just pick up the corded or wireless handset and dial as usual. To the user, there was no indication that anything was different. That all came to an end with our new GSM digital phone just before Hurricane Katrina and finally Wilma blew everything to shreds the same year leaving us w/o wired phone service for weeks. There weren't any interfaces like our old one available for our new phone, the idea while good, wasn't supported by many phones. Some companies offered a version that connected to the headset connector, but again, not our phone. Recently a new breed has emerged that connects via Bluetooth which results in almost universal compatibility.

We chose the XLink BT model based on good reviews and the much lower price. There are others even cheaper in the $35 range and others 3-4x the price, but the XLink seems to enjoy the best end user ratings and out of the box experience. The setup is simple. Enable your phone for Bluetooth hand/earset operation. Plug the Xlink unit into the local loop and wall wart. Key into the phone the 4 digit security code once and it does the rest. The unit works far away from the specified 30' making cell phone placement convenient. Actually anywhere it's laid. The XLink model we have will support up to 3 cell phones. Other models also support the Telco line in addition or VOIP service. Since this is for emergency use, there was no need to choose the telco model which apparently has some problems according to many users with echo and requires keypad selection. In our household, things need to be turnkey and seemless or they're more problems then they're worth.

So, why do you need one of these for your shack? During an emergency, this unit works flawlessly with both my HF phone patch and Simplex telephone interconnect. I have a telephone mounted on my console that switches over with the rest of the local loop. Telephone is never interrupted along with switchover to battery backup. In an Emcomm or other emergency situation, a local loop using inexpensive, $10 corded phones can be quickly deployed using available cell phones, a telephone extension cord and a muliport adapter. While I haven't tried it, I understand these units don't support fax or dialup. Our older unit made that claim too. Fortunately our fax machine never got the memo and worked fine with it. Maybe these do too.

Pros:

Local loop phone line can be created out of thin air, literally.

No wires to connect or levels to set. Just plug in and the unit does the rest. If the cell phone leaves the area, it reconnects by itself when back in range.

Inexpensive for the fantastic utility it offers.

Audio quality with a good signal is indistinguishable from convential phone audio. Totally user transparent operation with a corded phone. Unit generates it's own dialtone and other tones and ringing voltage.

Lots of utility for $70

Cons:

Requires manual switchover by plugging in your home phone local loop or telephone. Another model is available, but doesn't switch over by sensing loop voltage loss. In all fairness, the unit was not designed for this, but as a telco line eliminator.

No docking,charging,or external antenna convenience. Again, not designed for this but can be overcome with an inexpensive aftermarket mobile cradle that can be mounted nearby that provides all these functions and interface with your source of 12v backup power.




 


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