Cell phones go old school

There’s a proliferation of form factors in the cell phone market today – flip phones, sliders, communicators. When manufacturers aren’t tacking on more features – video and still cameras, MP3 players, mobile TV – they’re crunching the size to a point where it’s inevitable you’re going to end up throwing one in the wash unnoticed in the pocket of your Parasucos.

One thing they have in common: almost never does the design of the phone allow you to hold the speaker to your ear and the microphone to your mouth simultaneously. Hence, those people you see on the bus holding the phone in front of them like a walkie-talkie to speak, then bringing it back to their ears to listen, which makes good, old-fashioned, cut-the-other-person-off-in-mid-sentence arguing something of a lost art.

The old wireline handsets were made for talking and listening simultaneously. They were comfortable and the sound quality was good, even if the curly cord always got tangled into an inextricable mess. And when things got really out of hand, it functioned as an effective clubbing device. Oh, if only someone would make a cellular handset like that . . .

Naturally, someone has.

Say hello to the Novophone, the must-have cell phone accessory from, um, Novophone. It’s an old-school telephone handset wired to a standard cell phone jack.

Pull that one out on the street and you’re bound to get a reaction – and if the reaction is an attempted mugging, remember the awesome power of a heavy piece of plastic swung with sufficient momentum.

Not to be outdone, the people at Spark Fun Electronics offer a very small quantity of the Port-O-Rotary. This is the whole, old-school phone experience with a wireless twist. A big ol’ handset plugs into the familiar old phone base, complete with functioning rotary dial and gong-style metal bells. Open the phone, slip in your SIM card, and Bob’s your uncle, so call him already.

There are bound to be upgrades to the Port-O-Rotary, among them:

• Built-in LP player: Stores up to 40 minutes of music on interchangeable, reversible vinyl discs. Easy to organize by artist!

• Integrated Polaroid Camera: Share photos instantly. Film-like quality!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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