I even did the unthinkable and read the manual.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

Push-to-talk phones very handy for some users

May 17, 2009

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard

   Sprint sent me a new push-to-talk cell phone to try out. It was a grand toy.
   PUSH. Our neighbor Jamie answers. She got one, too. Just to try out -- that was my deal with Sprint. Two PTT phones. You'll see why in a minute.
   I've been chatting on CB radio since the first days of Citizen Band -- my license (yes, I went to the trouble of getting one) is KBW 6571 -- and push-to-talk is old hat.
   But it was a new fedora when I tried to use it on the cell phone. You can't PUSH and call just anyone. The person you call has to agree to be PTT'd. That person has to click a few menu choices on the receiving cell phone (it's a one-time thing) before any PTT calls can come through.
   And, oh -- here's why Jamie had to have one, too. You can't just call any phone, either. To make a PTT call, you need to call a PTT phone.
   Argh! What a PTB -- pain in the you-know-what! So I lost interest.
   But then I started to have second thoughts. I even did the unthinkable and read the manual.
   One of the features of this PTT phone (and many others, I've since found out) is automated answering. Someone calls you and your phone answers all by itself. Cool, but only when combined with the next feature. The phone can be put into auto-talk mode. Someone calls, your phone automatically answers and you just talk from a few feet away. I call that speakerphone and you probably do, too, so it's nothing new.
   But combine all these features and you get a very useful tool for crew bosses and teams of any kind. Members of the crew (I'm thinking of a half-dozen carpenters working on a large project) clip a PTT phone to their shirts and set them on full auto. In this mode, they don't have to do anything besides talk when they're called. Speakerphone mode to the rescue.
   The crew boss can chat with anyone on the crew easily. PUSH. Smitty? C'mon down and help measure this beam. PUSH. Jackson? Are you done with the gable yet?
   I know, there are two-way radios that do the same thing. But you have to fiddle with a walkie talkie that's a one-trick pony. A PTT phone is a regular cell phone, too. It's multi-talented.
   That means you get more than you pay for. That's got to count for something these days.