Amplicomms PowerTel 980 - Action on Hearing Loss

Amplicomms PowerTel 980 - Action on Hearing Loss
tried and tested
Keeping our independence as we get older is important and, if we live alone, it’s
particularly reassuring to know that help can easily and quickly be summoned in an
emergency. A phone with special care features can provide that vital link, and offer peace
of mind to relatives and friends. These phones come with a wirelessly linked pendant, with
an alarm button, and can be worn like a wristwatch or attached to a lanyard. So, if you
need help but can’t get to the phone, you simply press the button. This starts an alarm
sequence and the phone makes an emergency call to relatives, friends or carers.
All the phones in this review have accessibility features for people with mild to
moderate hearing loss, or who use a hearing aid. They also have the standard range of
features you’d find on any phone (such as last number redial, and phonebook for storing
key numbers, for example). We can’t list every feature, but we highlight those that may be
of interest or importance.
Safety is paramount and the phones’ suitability needs to be carefully considered on a
case by case basis – see page 37 for further guidance.
Amplicomms PowerTel 980
Kevin Taylor reports on accessible phones that can be a real life saver.
This pack includes a PowerTel corded
phone with answering machine, a cordless
handset, and wrist receiver with
emergency button.
Both the corded and cordless phones
have amplification and tone settings, and
are hearing aid compatible. The phone can
store up to three emergency numbers; it
has a pre-recorded SOS message, or you
can record your own. The wrist receiver
needs to be slotted into the charging base
for regular charging and has a ‘battery low’
warning to show when this is needed; it has
an ‘out of range’ warning light, too.
Verdict: This phone has all the bells and
whistles, works well and comes with user
friendly instructions. We think there
should be capacity to store more
emergency numbers.
Price: £169.99
Available from: www.actiononhearingloss.
In use: You need to press the emergency
button on the wrist receiver for five seconds
to activate the emergency call; the corded
phone then bleeps loudly for 10 seconds
before dialling the first pre-stored emergency
number. If the first number is not answered, it
moves on to the next one, and so on. The
phone goes into hands-free mode when the
call is answered. The wrist receiver also
provides vibration alert for incoming calls
and remote answering (with the phone in
hands-free mode). Handset amplification,
tone control and hearing aid compatibility
work well. The out of range and battery low
warning on the wrist receiver give extra
reassurance. The instructions are clearly
written using a large, easy to read typeface. 33
tried and tested
Geemarc CL600
Two interchangeable pendants are
supplied – one with a lanyard, the other
with a bracelet.
Pressing the SOS button on the pendant
or phone starts the SOS sequence, and
dials the first stored number. If there’s no
response within 30 seconds, or the line is
busy, the next SOS number is dialled, and
so on (up to six numbers can be stored).
When an SOS call is picked up, the phone
will automatically go to hands-free mode. It
also has a remote surveillance monitor – a
relative, friend or carer can dial your
number and, after ten rings, the phone will
automatically pick up in hands-free mode.
There’s a range of handset amplification
options, tone control and volume
adjustment for the hands-free mode. The
audible ringer has two volume settings and
there’s also a flashing light (an optional
vibrating pad can be attached to the
phone). It can also be used with a headset
or inductive neck loop.
In use: The SOS features are easy to set up,
but there’s no pre-recorded outgoing
emergency message, so you need to record
your own (the instructions provide a typical
example of what to say). The CL600 knows
when a call is received in person, (as
opposed to an answering machine) – an
important feature for peace of mind. And if
you don’t replace the phone correctly on
the base, it will clear the line after 20
seconds to allow calls to come through.
The remote surveillance monitor is a
useful secondary safety feature that works
well. Our tests showed that the phone is
capable of providing high levels of handset
amplification and has an effective tone
control. If you use a hearing aid and have it
on the loop setting, you might need to
increase the handset volume to get the
best results. The speakerphone volume
control slider means you can see the
volume setting at a glance. The visual
ringer uses a powerful Xenon strobe and is
effective in attracting attention to incoming
calls. The pendant has a low battery
warning, but the battery can’t be
recharged, and has to be replaced by
removing three screws. Geemarc says the
battery should last for ** xxxxxxxx.
Verdict: High handset amplification with
effective tone adjustment and hearing aid
compatibility. It offers a good range of
SOS features, including a useful remote
room monitor.
Price: £121.34 incl. VAT
Available from:
Lifemax Emergency
Phone (Model 1225)
The pendant not only has an SOS alarm
button for emergency calls, it also has
two-way speech – so calls can be
transferred to the pendant, which has its
own speakerphone and ringer volume
settings (set them up from the menu
settings on the phone).
The phone and pendant can also be used
as an intercom.
The pendant has a handy battery check
feature; if the battery is low, a voice alert
from the pendant announces ‘charge
battery soon’ or, if almost depleted, ‘charge
battery now’. There’s also a battery-level
indicator and pendant-out-of-range
warning. The emergency message from the
phone is pre-stored; there’s no option to
record your own. Up to five SOS numbers
can be stored. There is also a room monitor
feature, where a relative, friend or carer can
dial in using a special pin number.
In use: The phone has handset volume
adjustment but no additional amplification
(as on the other phones), nor any tone
adjustment. Hearing aid compatibility
should be useable on high/maximum
handset volume settings. On hands-free,
the phone is not as loud as some of the
others on test – however, calls can be
transferred to the pendant, which has its
own speaker volume adjustment. The
instructions are quite hard to follow in
places but a quick-start guide is provided.
Verdict: The only phone on test where
calls can be transferred to the pendant.
There’s no handset volume boost button,
so it’s not as loud as the other phones on
maximum volume.
Price: £149.99
Available from:
Most of the phones on test have battery
back-up, which keeps the phone fully
functioning in the event of a power failure
or if accidentally disconnected from the
mains supply. An alarm call is not possible
if the phone is disconnected from the
mains supply and back-up batteries
removed or depleted, or if the phone is
disconnected from the phone socket.
The more emergency contacts you
store in the phone, the better. Never store
an emergency service number as your
emergency contact – store only phone
numbers of relatives, friends or carers.
Always let family and friends know that
you’ve added them to your list of alarm
contacts, and that they may be contacted
by phone in an emergency. You should
also arrange a test so that everyone is
familiar with making and receiving
emergency calls.
An alternative option is to use a
dedicated emergency call centre such as
the Age UK Personal Alarm Service – visit
age-uk-personal-alarms for further details.
Amplicomms, Geemarc and Doro also
have mobile phones with emergency SOS
features – to see the full range, see our
Solutions catalogue or visit the Action on
Hearing Loss shop at: www. 35
Features explained
Hands free (speakerphone)
This allows you to talk to your caller
without having to pick up the phone
handset. All the phones on test have a
volume control for the speakerphone; our
table shows which are the loudest (on
maximum volume setting).
Phonebook and alarm contacts
(emergency numbers)
This is where you store the phone
numbers of relatives, friends and other
contacts. On some phones, such as the
Doro Secure 350, you can set up some of
the phonebook numbers as your
emergency contacts; on others, the alarm
contacts are separate.
Handset tone control
This allows you to increase the treble
sounds so that consonants like ‘F’ and ‘S’
sound clearer (depending on your
particular hearing loss).
Hearing aid compatible
Means you can use the phone with your
hearing aid – switch your hearing aid to
the hearing loop (T) setting/programme.
Handset volume/amplification boost
In addition to the handset volume control,
further amplification can be added (by
pressing a button) to make the caller’s
voice louder. All the phones, apart from
the Lifemax, have this feature.
Doro Secure 350
The 350 comes with two pendants (more
can be added). One is attached to a wrist
strap, the other to a lanyard and they have
large, bright lime green alarm keys
(there’s also an alarm key on the phone).
The phone can store up to 30 alarm
contacts in the phonebook. You can use
the pre-recorded outgoing emergency
message, or record your own. Handset
volume can be boosted by pressing the
boost button – the boost can be set to
switch off after each call (useful in
households where some people are hearing
and others have hearing loss), or always on.
The pendants can be used to accept
incoming calls as well as raise an alarm.
In use: You need to press the alarm key on
the pendant for one second; the phone
then responds with a loud confirmation
tone and the alarm key on the phone
flashes red for 15 seconds. During this time,
the alarm can be cancelled by pressing the
alarm key on either the pendant or the
phone. Otherwise, the alarm sequence
continues and the phone dials numbers
you’ve stored as an alarm contact in the
Phonebook. The pendant battery will need
replacing when it runs low and you’ll need
to remove four screws to do this. Doro says
the battery should last up to ** years but,
as there’s no battery warning feature, it’s
advisable to test it regularly.
The phone has a clear display with
uncluttered and clearly laid-out keys and
In our tests, it provided good handset
amplification and is hearing aid compatible
– although, on hands-free, it’s not as loud
as some of the other phones on test.
Verdict: Iconic Swedish design combined
with ease of use, and good overall
performance – apart from hands-free,
which needs to be louder.
Price: £107.99 incl VAT
Available from:
In our February/March Tried and Tested review of tinnitus products, we incorrectly
reported that the Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow is available from the Action on
Hearing Loss shop. Unfortunately, this product is not available in the UK; however, a
similar Sound Pillow, incorporating two speakers, is available from the shop. We
sincerely apologise for this error.
Amplicomms PowerTel
Doro Secure 350
Geemarc CL600
Lifemax 1225
Handset volume boost
Handset tone control
Hearing aid compatible
Hands free volume
Neck loop
Vibrating pad
Emergency/SOS numbers
Up to 3
Up to 30
Up to 6
Up to 5
Pendant battery low
Pendant out of range
Pre-stored emergency
Record own emergency
Room monitor
Typical price, ex VAT
Handset loudness
Hands free loudness
Hearing aid compatibility
Worst 37
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