What's the best land-line telephone that will only function as an apartment buzzer?
November 12, 2012 2:19 PM   Subscribe

What's a good tiny-form-factor POTS telephone I can purchase solely to buzz people into my apartment building?

My building's buzzer system piggybacks onto the regular phone service for each apartment. When somebody in the lobby punches in my buzzer code the telephone plugged into the wall jack rings and then connects my via intercom to the lobby. If I want to let them in, I unlock the inner door by pressing 6.

My fiancée and I don't have any land-line service, Luckily, the buzzer will still work if you plug a telephone into the wall--it just doesn't allow you to dial out or receive regular calls.

Currently we have a very cheap phone plugged into the wall and it sits on the floor next to the TV stand (the socket is located in the living room). However, we're redecorating the apartment with an eye to eliminating all unsightly clutter and I'm wondering if there's a very small and/or sleek looking landline phone available for sale that would look nice and/or unobtrusive when mounted on the wall. Since it doesn't have to be designed to act as a land-line phone I'm thinking in a perfect world of a very tiny speaker phone with one button that could be programmed with the DTMF tones for the '6' key.

Failing that, anybody have any suggestions for a very small land-line phone that looks stylish when wall-mounted?
posted by whittaker to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend setting up a fruit bowl near a phone jack and transforming your current phone into a bananaphone that you can lovingly nest amongst the plastic fruit.
posted by sadmarvin at 2:25 PM on November 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

I vote for this: http://amzn.com/B002U3RM0Ghas tone dialing!
posted by brenton at 2:27 PM on November 12, 2012

I think this one is cool in a really retro way. Wall mounted so no cord going all over creation.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:27 PM on November 12, 2012

What about something like this cheap RCA model. You could easily disassemble this phone and put it in a far smaller project box if you wanted.
posted by jeffch at 2:47 PM on November 12, 2012

jeffch: It'd be neat to get the result I want through a DIY project, but ideally I'd be able to get an enclosure that's a little more like a Nest and less like Frankenstein's MonsterPhone.
posted by whittaker at 2:59 PM on November 12, 2012

if you're looking for a wall-mounted speakerphone, the difficulty is that you are going to need two buttons, at least one programmable - one to go offhook to answer the call, and a second button to provide the dtmf to activate the door relay. perhaps if you could find a 2-button programmable door phone that allows one of the buttons to operate as a switchhook. I've not ever seen a product that does this.

otherwise, you'll be looking for a full keypad 'security style' door phone. They're usually brushed steel or similar and stupid-expensive.

It might also be worth asking your landlord if those calls can be forwarded to another number (like your mobile phone), since its possible the doorphone may be connected to equipment with capability to send calls to the PSTN.

Failing that, you could accomplish the same with an invisible, totally over-the-top DIY solution. :)

If you don't have a more discreet jack somewhere else in the apartment, re-terminate and/or extend the line (behind the wall, to another location in the apartment) to a FXO-SIP gateway registered to a small PBX, that's programmed to dial your mobile phone out of an inexpensive SIP carrier of your choice. Aside from the initial hardware outlay, it should only cost you a couple bucks a month, or free if you want to use the available google voice integration with some asterisk platforms.

Your visitor presses the call button, and the call is then routed to either or both of your mobile phones. You can answer your doorphone anywhere you get a call, and buzz them in on the keypad on your mobile.

For extra style-points, you can buzz yourself in if you get locked out.
posted by sapo at 5:13 PM on November 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

It might also be worth asking your landlord if those calls can be forwarded to another number (like your mobile phone), since its possible the doorphone may be connected to equipment with capability to send calls to the PSTN.

Yes, double-check on this if you'd rather not have a land line at all. I don't have a land line and the buzzer just dials my cell phone*. Not only can you buzz yourself in if you lock yourself out, you don't have to hang around to let in UPS/FedEx!

*Technically it calls a G-Voice number I had to set up because my cell number's area code is out of the area.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:19 PM on November 12, 2012

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