Customer Reviews: Plantronics Clarity XLC2 Amplified Cordless Big Button Speakerphone
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on November 7, 2011
Giving this phone 4 stars but that's because I don't think there is anything better out there based on what I found during my several nights of searching. Needed to replace my mother's amplified existing cordless phone because of failing batteries. It had a fatal design flaw in any case. They placed the volume buttons right where a person naturally grips the phone. My mother was constantly turning the volume down on the old phone and not understanding why she could not hear anyone on the phone. Confused her and made me wonder if they ever tested the phone with real people.

Anyway, time for a new phone, this Clarity XLC2. Mostly good reviews and nothing else seems to come close with the same features. After having it installed for a few weeks and talking to my mother daily here are my impressions.

1) It has ample volume for a severely hearing impaired person. My mother's hearing is bad. No hearing in one ear and partial in the other. She uses the phone without her hearing aid and often tells me it is too loud. A good problem to have.

2) The volume control is a wheel on the side of the phone that, in theory, you can adjust while talking. She can't do that but I imagine most people could.

3) A switch setting on the base unit allows the handset to automatically return to boosted mode if someone else uses the phone in non boost mode. This is great for me when I visit, use the phone and forget to set it back to boost. That used to be a problem with the old phone. This is a great feature. The Talk button also lights in red to indicate boost is on. Green indicates normal. This is needed because boost is just a push button so you need a way to tell.

4) The speaker phone feature actually works well enough for my mother to hear. We know this because when she first got the phone she hit the speaker button by mistake. I talked to her for 15 minutes before we realized she was on speaker phone. She noticed because she could not hear her own voice very well. The speaker on the back of the handset was loud enough for her to hear me though. The downside it that she did this by accident. I don't know if this is true of other elderly users but my mother insists on pressing the phone against her face. When she does, the buttons are easily depressed. It may be the speaker button, the number 1 happens a lot and other buttons which I can't identify except for the noise or cutouts I hear. I'm trying to teach her to keep the phone away from her face but it is hard to retrain her after so many years. I do wish they had put the speaker button somewhere else. It seems to be in just the right spot to hit accidentally. TIP: there is a setting on the base unit to disable the talking keypad, this has reduced the annoyance factor a bit.

5) This model is fairly light weight. No complaints from her about it being too heavy.

6) DECT 6.0 works like it should, great.

Overall, this is nice phone and I'm very happy Clarity provides a good solid product for people with hearing issues. I do think it could be better by moving some keys, making them less prone to accidental activation by contact with the face and lastly the contrast on the key pad is not great for people with poor vision. The numbers need to be bolder so they stand out more on the dark pads. Unfortunately poor hearing and poor eyesight tend come together as people age.

UPDATE (2/10/13): After some long term use of this phone thought I would add a couple of observations. The problem of accidental button activation continues. I finally had to cut a piece off the back of an 8-1/2 x 11 tablet of paper and glue it along the side of the phone with the volumn wheel to keep my mom from pushing the buttons with her cheek. It works like a guard rail. I also have taped the volume wheel in the full on position to keep her from accidentally turning it down while holding the phone. The challenge phone designers have is where to put all the controls so they are easy to use but not too easy. I do think Plantronics needs to rethink the external configuration of this phone to go along with the well done electronic components. There is no reason for the boost button to be where it us. The volume wheel could have detents to make it less prone to accidental adjustment. The ear pad could be extended outward or angled further to get the keypad away from the user's face. Just some thoughts for Plantronics/Clarity in case they ever read these reviews.
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on August 12, 2011
Bought this phone for my hearing-impaired father. The overall design is solid, but there are some problems. The voice quality just isn't that great. Dialing the volume up and down isn't smooth, it tends to jerk around between levels. It's a bit static-y overall. Also, there's just too much delay from the time when you push the "one-touch" dialing buttons, and when it actually dials out, which unfortunately confuses my father each time he tries to use it. Someone needs to actually do a focus group someday of families who take care of seniors, and find out exactly what features and capabilities they need in these products.

(Updating this review Aug 2012):
Note that Clarity has CHANGED this phone, so that now instead of TWO preset memory buttons, there is really only ONE. They have taken one of those preset memory buttons and programmed it to call a Clarity help center directly. While this might be a good feature for some, it wasn't for us, since I needed my 88 year old father to be able to call two numbers with the one-touch dialing buttons. The manual says you can over-ride this feature, and program in your own desired number to that second button, but it didn't work when I tried it. Calling the Clarity help center myself, they were somehow able to program it remotely to make that button call the number I wanted it to.

I ended up buying the second version of the phone because my father thought the first one was broken. It turns out someone (probably cleaning staff) in his nursing home had accidentally flipped the switch on the bottom of the base of the phone from "tone" dialing to "pulse" dialing. And pulse dialing won't work from his nursing home (why anyone even includes this ancient feature on a phone anymore is beyond me...) So the original phone really wasn't broken, so now we have two of these.

I'd like to repeat my original claim that some company NEEDS to put a bit of research into what is needed in a phone for the hearing impaired elderly. It needs:

1. clear sound with strong hearing assist
2. BIG buttons
3. NO screen
4. NO menu options (How many seniors like learning how to scroll through and select menu options? That's what our generation does, not the type of user interface the senior generation ever got used to.)
5. Three or Four ONE-TOUCH memory buttons. And I mean, one-touch. Not two-touch, like pressing an "M" button, followed by a keypad button. Just a ONE-TOUCH, for the senior to be able to call his emergency contacts, closest loved ones, and caregivers.
6. NO buttons related to key settings on the handset! Think about an 88-year old guy, stuck living in a wheelchair, not very nimble, who accidentally changes one of those settings because it's on the side of the handset. Now he can't hear me on the phone, how do I tell him how to set it back? All key setting buttons should be on the BASE.
7. CORDLESS, not corded! When you live in a wheelchair, the ability to keep your phone with you is your only remaining independent link to the outside world. Plus, when you've lost mobility, it may be tough to maneuver your wheelchair to the base location to answer a phone in time.
8. Easy to grip shape! Meaning a phone shaped like they used to be, molded to easily conform to the shape of your hand and your head. The brick shaped phones we all use now are NOT easy for seniors to handle!!

And I'm sure a few others I'm missing. This Clarity phone has a few of these features, but not all. I've spent days of web searching trying to find better options, but I've come to the conclusion that this phone doesn't exist. Maybe someone someday at a phone-maker will read this review and finally develop one.
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on August 22, 2011
I purchased this for my elderly grandfather. His vision is going as well as his hearing. He was having issues using any cordless phone I bought him, that is until I found this one. It is very loud, in fact I can hear the people talking in another room! The buttons are all very large and easy to press. It is not a small phone but then again that isn't why you are getting it. It also has a backup battery in the base so if the power goes out you can know they still have the ability to call someone if they have troubles. Highly recommend this phone!
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on March 25, 2012
I bought this for my mother-in-law who will be turning 94 in June. She has called me three times since receiving the phone just to thank me. She can now call all her friends without dialing the wrong number and she can hear the entire conversation. The only problem now is I have to screen my calls.... she won't hang the phone up!
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on December 12, 2012
I bought these for my hearing impaired mother and they were worse than the cheap set she already had. The tone quality was as bad as two cans and a string. The only good feature was the red light that illuminated when the phone rang. All in all a real waste of money but that said Amazon did allow me to return them and I got a full refund.
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on January 12, 2014
This is the second Plantronics Clarity phone I have purchased for my visually impaired elderly father. The first one lasted less than a year before the receiver developed static and distortion so bad the phone was worthless. Because my father liked the large buttons and features, I ordered this version. It lasted 2 weeks before developing the same problem. Once I can write off to a single defective item; twice means these phones are not quality controlled and/or cheaply made. Find another brand!
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on February 18, 2016
I was very pleased with this phone for my elderly mother - the big buttons, the audio amplification options, and the loud ring have really worked great for her. Much better than her previous 'regular' phone.
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on February 17, 2015
I've had this phone quite a few months now. It has flashing lights that come on when it rings, which is pretty nice. You can change the settings on everything pretty easily, so it is very customizable. I'm still a little disappointed with the volume level of the speaker while talking on the phone, but I suppose that having a handheld, battery-powered device puts limitations on it. I called support, and they were very helpful. There is a physical center on Bonny Oaks in Chattanooga, so I like that. It's easy to change the ringtone and adjust the ringtone volume. Really a cool phone; however, I would likely buy one powered from the wall if offered so I could get additional volume.
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on September 18, 2015
Not for visually impaired. There's no braille on the phone. They thoughtfully give you a stick-on braille warning label that's as big as the phone. It says the phone might be loud. That's not for your benefit. They're just afraid somebody might complain. They don't provide any other braille stickers which could be actually useful.

Talking buttons. Some of them but not all of them. Need to know whether it's in speakerphone mode? Nope. There's a light. There's actually a lot of blinking lights in different colors which are not useful to somebody who can't see. The lights are mostly distracting.

The number buttons talk. Most of the other important buttons don't. The buttons talk AFTER you let go. So, you don't know what you pressed until after you pressed it. Not so useful. There isn't any 'backspace' button when you're dialing. The talking buttons only let you know what wrong number you dialed so you can hang up and start over.

I wrote to their customer service and they didn't care much. Yet another company that makes products that are supposed to help the disabled but don't. A tiny bit more thought and this could have been a good product. They way it is, no. Unfortunately most other phones are far worse. It does work. The amplified features are OK. The buttons are large, mostly. It isn't intuitive. At least they didn't put an entirely useless LCD display on it.
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on January 1, 2016
Bought this for my mom, who is nearly deaf and nearly blind. Our phone conversations now are much improved and she loves it. My brother is considering buying one, even though his hearing and sight are pretty good, because he likes using it at Mom's house (likes the big buttons).
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