PhoneValet Message Center

Parliant $199

PhoneValet 2.0 is an amazingly capable telephone management system for Mac OS X. It works as a message center for your home or business, handling multiple phone lines, playing greetings and recording messages, screening and logging calls and recording them if you wish, dialing calls in various convenient ways, and even emailing message recordings to you – all this for up to eleven voice mail boxes.

If you have a small or home-based business, PhoneValet can help you sound a lot more professional. You can create a general caller greeting, then set up separate voice mail boxes, each with its own greeting, to handle messages for individuals, departments or projects. The software can handle multiple lines at the same time (each separate telephone number requires its own PhoneValet USB adapter) and can direct incoming faxes to a fax machine fax-handling software. Phone calls can be recorded, using the space-saving 3GPP format, or the larger but iTunes-compatible AAC or WAV format.

The PhoneValet software consists of a phonebook and a log of all incoming and outgoing calls. The log tracks phone line, number, name, (incoming numbers and names are recorded only if you have caller ID; you can add them manually if you like), starting time, call duration, type (placed, answered, unanswered, voice mail or remote control), mailbox and whether there’s a message or note attached to the call. There’s a large field for writing notes about a call, an extremely useful feature. The call log is searchable and exportable, and backing up the log is a simple menu choice. If you bill for your time, the call log will quickly become indispensable. Call records can be exported for creating invoices, a real boon for lawyers and consultants.

PhoneValet’s phonebook is used for one click dialing and for voice dialing using speech recognition. You can click to add an incoming or outgoing number from your call log. You can also phone numbers from Apple’s Address Book, saving the chore of re-entering them. Finally, if you have caller ID and a caller’s name and number are in your phonebook, the name will display on your screen and can spoken by your Mac when that person calls. How cool is that?

But wait, there’s more. Using AppleScripts, PhoneValet can be set up to do nifty things like mute iTunes and change your iChat message when you’re on the phone. And PhoneValet’s Remote Control feature lets you control your Mac from afar, letting you run scripts to read your iCal appointments for the day or even control X-10 building control systems. Shades of The Jetsons!

Installation is painless. The package includes a USB cable, a slim grey adapter (@ 3" x 1" x "), a telephone cable, a plastic line splitter, the software CD-ROM and – hooray! – a printed manual. To get started, all you need to do is connect the cables to the adapter box, plug the phone cable and the cable from your telephone into the line splitter and plug the splitter into the wall jack, and install the software.

PhoneValet is just the ticket for a small or home-based business, a busy household, or anyone with an active phone life.

–Elsa Travisano

Phone Valet Message Center
System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.1.5 or higher (10.2 or higher recommended), available USB port, standard (analog) phone line, with touch-tone service, near your computer, monitor or display supporting 800x600 or higher resolution (1024x768 recommended). Modem not required.
Copyright ©2004 by Elsa Travisano. This review appeared in the November 2004 issue of Newsbreak, the newsletter of MUG ONE - Macintosh User Group of Oneonta, NY.