New Book About Phone Equipment Warns Buyers That They Probably Need More Than The Sellers Want To Sell

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An authoritative but easy-to-understand guide to choosing and using phone equipment and phone services for professional offices, businesses and homes. The 396-page book has about 40 detailed hands-on product reviews ranging from a $12.99 home phone to complex multi-thousand-dollar business phone systems, plus add-ons to improve communications. The book, which should be helpful to both buyers and sellers, also sorts out the various technologies for making phone calls and accessing the Internet -- conventional dial tone, ISDN, DSL, cable, fiber, T1 and VoIP.

"Phone Systems & Phones for Small Business & Home" by Michael N. Marcus

This delightful book makes phones ultra-useful for people who run mini-Fortune 500 companies. Highly recommended.

During tough economic times, the desire to buy at the lowest possible price creates pressure to sell at the lowest possible price; but low prices can actually hurt the buyer.

According to Michael N. Marcus, author of "Phone Systems & Phones for Small Business & Home," the lowest price is probably not the best deal.

"Because of intense competition and pressure to minimize the price on a proposal or bid," Marcus said, "salespeople are often afraid to suggest a phone system that might cost even $20 more than a competitor's system. Unfortunately, salespeople may try to sell systems that are too small, or they leave out important items. Some 'options' should really be considered necessities."

The authoritative but easy-to-understand new book explains what goes into a phone system, and how to choose the right size that will minimize initial cost yet still allow for economical expansion. It describes and evaluates types of phones and systems, and has an extensive chapter explaining what some phone system salespeople may not want buyers to know.

There have been major changes in every aspect of telecommunications.

A hundred years ago, telephones were simple. If you wanted to call someone, you picked up the receiver, cranked the crank, and waited for a nice lady to say, "Operator, may I help you?" Then you said something like, "I want to talk to Daddy," or "I need the doctor;" and in a few seconds you were connected. You didn't even need to know the phone numbers.

For equipment, maybe you could choose an oak box on the kitchen wall or a metal candlestick model on the hall table. If you lived in a high-tech area, maybe you could get a dial instead of a crank.

Regardless of the telephone style, you would pay to rent it month after month, and there was usually just one company in your town that you could do business with, and that company owned "your" phone.

Today the choices seem endless. Phones can be analog or digital, rotary or touch-tone, plain or fancy, corded, cordless or cellular. You can connect through a local phone company, a national phone company, an international phone company, a TV company, a satellite company, a cellular company, or a VoIP company. Phone companies sell TV service. Cable television companies sell phone service. They both sell Internet service.

You can get a phone or phone system or a phone gadget from hundreds of sources, and buy it, rent it, lease it or maybe get it for free. You can pay someone to install it, you can install it yourself, or you can get something that needs no installation.

Marcus helps people sort out their options. The book covers basic phones, multi-line phone systems, add-ons like headsets, music-on-hold, paging systems, backup power and fax equipment -- for professional offices, businesses and homes. There are sections on technology trends, tools, wiring, troubleshooting, and much more.

The book, which should be helpful for both buyers and sellers, also sorts out the various technologies for making phone calls and accessing the Internet -- conventional dial tone, ISDN, DSL, cable, fiber, wireless, T1 and VoIP. It has detailed information about plugs and jacks, explains the difference between wire and cable, and tells readers how to find their octothorpe.

There's even a section that explains why touch-tone pads have 1-2-3 on the top, but computers and calculators have 1-2-3 on the bottom. Funny chapters discuss "technology for women," and how actor Stephen Baldwin and motorcycle maker Paul Teutul, Sr. waste time on the telephone. A very serious chapter warns about the danger of inadequate protection against electrical surges.

Other parts of the book explain the break-up and apparent re-formation of the Bell System, why GTE phones were heavier and uglier than AT&T phones, and the difference between a hookswitch and a switchhook. Readers will even learn who really makes phones that carry the AT&T label, about the disastrous deal between Lucent and Philips, why phone renting is a terrible deal for the renter, and why "broadband" is not the same thing as "high speed."

Reference material includes 37 pages on telecommunications terminology, an extensive chapter on acronyms, and illustrations of "weirdo" phone plugs. The chapter with important telephone numbers includes a number people can call to identify the number they're calling from, and a number for tracing threatening or nuisance phone calls.

The chapter on cordless phones explains how actress Hedy Lamarr co-invented vital technology during World War 2 that later was used by the U.S. military in the Viet Nam War and the blockade of Cuba, and is now used in millions of phones.

Marcus's book includes about 40 detailed hands-on product reviews. Recommendations range from a $12.99 home phone to complex multi-thousand-dollar business phone systems, plus a wide array of add-ons to improve communications.

It will help readers avoid the worst mistakes of phone system buyers, and can help them decide if they can save money by installing their own home or business phones. The book will also help people quickly diagnose many common telecom troubles, and often fix them easily and inexpensively or maybe even for free.

Marcus says, "But even if you don't plan to do your own phone work, by understanding what has to be done, you're more likely to get the right thing done, and pay the right price. You could save much more than the price of this book."

Some reader comments:

"Outstanding! An entertaining and sometimes humorous thorough education on phones and telecommunications. It's a must-read for shoppers as well as salespeople."

"I've been in telecommunications for nearly 30 years, but I still learned a lot from this informative and entertaining book."

"After just three minutes I learned that a really annoying telephone problem could be cured for $4, instead of nearly $400. This book belongs in every office and many homes."

"This delightful book makes phones ultra-useful for people who run mini-Fortune 500 companies. Highly recommended."

The illustrated book has 396 pages. It is available from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

This is the third book on communications equipment written by Michael N. Marcus, a writer who has specialized in electronics and telecommunications for over 30 years. Marcus is a successful and popular explainer, known for mixing technology and humor. His funny memoir "I Only Flunk My Brightest Students: stories from school and real life" was published in December.

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