How Dock-N-Talk Works

Courtesy Phone Labs

Plenty of people have already cut the cord on their land line telephones. Some people, on the other hand, can't seem to let go for several reasons. For those talkers who engage in hour-long conversations, a tiny cellular phone can be a pain to deal with, especially when using the phone for a home-based business. Even those who can't give up their land lines know the frustration of racing to find a ringing cell phone before the call goes to voicemail. Some people just want to save a little cash on their phone service by getting rid of their land lines.

Phone Labs' Dock-N-Talk could be the solution to all of these problems. It's a cell phone docking station that turns all of a home's phones into extensions of your cell phone number. It uses a normal phone cord plugged into your home phone or phone jack. You can use it as a second phone line or a way to use your cell phone as your primary phone line. The device can be used exclusively with a cell phone line or in conjunction with land line phone service. The Dock-N-Talk can work with most cell phone models and has Bluetooth capabilities as well. The Dock-N-Talk should also work if you decide to up­grade your cell phone after you've installed it.


­Sounds great, but is going landline-less worth it? What does the rest of the household do if you're out of the house and have your cell phone with you? What if you have horrible cell phone reception in your apartment? In this article, we'll explore what a Dock-N-Talk is, the pros and cons of having one, and how it works.



Dock-N-Talk Technology

The Dock-N-Talk can be connected to a land line using a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone for wireless connectivity.
Courtesy Phone Labs

First introduced in 2004, the Dock-N-Talk is much like installing a second phone line in your home, except you avoid the hassle of the physical installation and the costs of an additional phone line account.

Dock-N-Talk technology works from existing phone lines in the home. In most homes, there are­ four wires connected to the back of a phone jack. A pair of red and green wires is typically used for the first phone line. The second set of wires, a pair of yellow and black wires, is there for the optional second phone line. The yellow and black wires are what the Dock-N-Talk uses to tap into a second phone line for your home. For more on telephone jack wiring, see What do the yellow and black wires in a home telephone jack do?


The user can decide whether to use the Dock-N-Talk as the primary line or as a second phone line. Because houses are equipped for two lines, all of the phones wired in the house can work off of this second line.

­­When you connect a regular phone to the Dock-N-Talk via the cell phone and the land line, it's like having two separate phone lines. Calls to your cell phone will have a different ring than calls to your land line. A switch on the box allows you to choose whether to dial from your cell line or land line, similar to the setup on most office phones with multiple lines to choose from for a call.

­If your phone is a Bluetooth-enabled device, you can buy a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into the Dock-N-Talk unit. You can then use the search function on your phone and a password associated with the Bluetooth accessory to sync your Bluetooth phone wirelessly, so you'll have phone service throughout the house as long as your phone stays within range. After the Dock-N-Talk and the phone are plugged in with their proper cords, you can pick up any phone in the house and get a dial tone that is connected to the cell phone's line.

What are the benefits of buying a Dock-N-Talk? Read on to find out what you can expect.


Dock-N-Talk Advantages

With the Dock-N-Talk, you can connect phone extensions anywhere in your home to your cell phone line.
Tim Robberts/Getty Images

Beyond replacing your home phone, the Dock-N-Talk could function as a portable phone number, which could come in handy in the following situations:

  • For college students, their cell phone (and the minutes and costs associated with them) could be used in the dorm, instead of adding cell phone costs to the dorm room phone bill.
  • A home-based business could use the land line for the home and the cell line as the business phone. Not only would it provide a separate phone line using traditional phones, but entrepreneurs could also separate personal phone charges from business charges without combing through phone records.
  • The Dock-N-Talk could be used in a vacation home, eliminating the need for another account that isn't used often enough to justify the expense.
  • Parents could set up a separate phone line for a teenager's room, freeing up their home phone without adding another expense to their land line account.

Calls on the Dock-N-Talk phone also offer the advantage of clearer reception than a cell phone, since you'll presumably dock your cell phone where you get the best reception. You can take your land line cordless phone throughout the house without losing reception from your docking station. Additionally, standard cell phone features like caller ID and voice dialing can be used in the same manner on a traditional land-line phone.


­In addition to all this, if you drop your landline phone account, you'll make up a lot of the initial cost of the Dock-N-Talk (it retails for around $150) through your cell phone plans, which, unlike most landline service plans, often include free nights and weekends. The fact that the Dock-N-Talk has no monthly charges should also soften the hit to your wallet.

Before you decide to send the phone company packing and buy a Dock-N-Talk, there are some things you should know that might make you second-guess that choice. Take a look at the next page for some reasons to reconsider a Dock-N-Talk.


Dock-N-Talk Disadvantages

PM Images/Getty Images

You're finally ready to buy the Dock-N-Talk and cancel your land line phone service. There are some considerations before you tell the phone company to take a hike:

  • The Dock-N-Talk can only connect to one cell phone at a time. There are also different cords to buy for different models. If you have more than one cell phone in the household, you'll either have to decide which phone is your "home phone" or you'll have to buy additional Dock-N-Talks.
  • If you do decide on one phone for the landline, the rest of the household doesn't have a phone line when you take your cell phone with you. If you want one cell phone to be the home phone, the best option is to buy a second cell phone that's on the same line as your current one and leave the second permanently connected to the Dock-N-Talk.
  • Compatibility is an issue, since some cell phones don't work with the Dock-N-Talk. Bluetooth also requires a special connector for an additional fee. Even if you're giving up your landline completely, there's still the initial expense of the Dock-N-Talk.
  • Your reception is only as good as your cell connection. Even if the phone is docked in the part of the house with the strongest signal, your home phone lines' sound quality will be your cell phone's sound quality (source: Taub).
  • If you're building a new home, you still need a phone line installed for the Dock-N-Talk to work.

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­­There are plenty of situations in which the Dock-N-Talk may be an acceptable alternative to a regular land-line phone, but it depends on how comfortable you are with shelling out the money for the new technology as well as getting used to plugging in your cell phone to get land-line service. For more information on the Dock-N-Talk, please see the links on the following page.


Lots More Information

Related How Stuff Works Articles

More Great Links

  • Armstrong, Larry. "Presto! Your Desk Phone Is A Cell Phone." Business Week. Aug 2, 2004.
  • (5/28/2008)
  • German, Kent. "Phone Labs Dock-N-Talk." CNET. (5/21/2008)
  • Mossberg, Walter S. and Katherine Boehret. "The Mossberg Solution: Turning Your Cellphone Into Your Home Phone; 'Docking' Products Link Wireless and Landline; Compatibility Is a Factor." The Wall Street Journal. Jan. 25, 2006.
  • Palenchar, Joseph. "Home phones make cellular connection" TWICE.Vol. 18, Iss. 14. Jul 7, 2003. (5/21/2008) entId=11123&RQT=309&VName=PQD
  • Phone Labs. (5/21/2008)
  • Taub, Eric A. "A Cellphone in Park, Even More Powerful." The New York Times. April 27, 2006.
  • T-Mobile. (5/28/2008)
  • XLink. (5/28/2008)