Answering Machine Buying Guide

Answering machines are a great way to let people leave you a message when you are not able to answer the phone. But with the different features answering machines have, it can be difficult to know which one is the best one for you. This is where a buying guide comes in.

Types of Answering Machines

There used to be two different choices in the types of answering machines, either a digital or a tape. But the days of using answering machines that recorded onto a tape are in the past. The only type of answering machine on the market today is a digital machine. But with the digital answering machine, you still have a choice of either a built-in or stand alone answering machine.

The built-in answering machine is an answering machine with a phone. If you are looking to buy a new phone or are ok with replacing the phone you currently have, then this may a good option. This type of machine is convenient because the charging base for the phone is where the answering machine is. It will save on space having the combination of the two rather than two separate devices.

The stand alone machine is better for those that already have a phone and would prefer not to replace it. This machine can be used with any phone rather than only working with the one that it was purchased with. The stand alones often have more storage capacity than the built-in machines do.

Pay Attention to

How many lines the answering machine can connect to

Some of the machines out there will only allow you to connect one phone line to it. For many this is just fine, but if you are looking to have more than one phone line attached to the answering machine, this is something to watch for.

How you can manage your messages

The majority of all answering machines out there give you the option to play, stop, delete, or skip messages. When you are looking for a machine, you will want to ensure that it offers all of the ways you want to manage your messages.

The amount of storage the answering machines has

Many of the machines on the market now have between 14 and 20 minutes of storage time. But there are some that offer a bit more. Some of the answering machines also come with a slot where you can insert an SD memory card, which will add to the amount of storage. Keep in mind how much recording time you will want to have for your answering machine.

Whether or not there is a warranty and how long it will protect your machine

An answering machine is like any other type of electronic device and there are times that it may break or malfunction. If you have a warranty and the answering machine is still within the warranty, you can have the machine fixed or replaced without it costing you anything. Without a warranty you will need to either pay to have it fixed or buy a new one if it malfunctions.

Where the messages can be accessed from

Your messages can always be accessed from the machine itself, but some of the answering machines allow you to access your messages remotely from any another phone. Some of the machines that allow remote access have features that are easy to use, but others can be a little more difficult requiring you to remember access codes or commands.

How long of a message can be left

This is not the amount of storage the answering machine has, but instead is the length of time that is allowed for each individual message. Most of the answering machines will allow you to adjust the length of messages that can be left. You can choose a shorter amount of time, this will give you the ability to have more messages on your machine, but they can not be as long. Or you could allow for longer messages, but you will not be able to keep as many messages on the machine.

Whether you would like your answering machine to have a battery backup

This would be ideal in the event that the power goes out and you want to ensure that any callers are still able to leave messages.

If you would like to have an auto-disconnect feature

This feature is helpful in conserving the amount of storage your machine uses. When someone hangs up the phone, the machine will automatically stop.

Whether you would like to know what time the message was left

Some answering machines come with the feature of a time stamp. This will tell you when the caller left the message. Depending on whether or not you already have caller id that will tell you the time that the call came in may help determine how important this feature is for you. If you are not concerned with the machine recording the time that the message was left, then you will not have to look to ensure the machine you are looking to buy has this feature.

Top Brands and Product Lines

Amplicom AB900 - Top in volume level and clarity of message.

AT&T 1740 - Top in amount of recording time with good sound quality.

AT&T EL52100 - Top in a built-in with good sound quality and speakerphone.