Hailing from Kent, Magic Box enjoys making home phones at keen prices. One of these is the Magic Box Touch 100, which has been sporting a touchscreen since long before the iPhone. There’s no multi-touch, of course, but it’s a welcome touch of pizzazz to the DECT scene.
The Touch 100 lacks a colour screen but the bright blue-backlit screen is clear and easy to read and the handset is a good size, fitting the hand well.
But the really different aspect of the Touch is that the front is smooth and flat – a touch-sensitive panel like the LG Chocolate Phone or even the iPhone. Like those phones, it uses capacitance sensors – that is your finger interrupts a tiny electrical field – rather than pressure sensitive pads.
This means you can’t dial using a stylus or pen, it has to be your finger. You can’t even wear thick gloves, although you won’t need these at home unless you’re really saving on the heating.
Touch-sensitive operations are fun, but they lack the tactility and feedback of physical buttons. If you switch off the key tones, then there’s little to confirm you’ve pushed a key at all.
This takes some getting used to, and the touch-sensitivity has another drawback. To prevent accidental dialling, the keys cunningly switch off as you put the handset to your ear. So to end the call you have to ‘wake’ the keypad before hanging up, which gets quite annoying.
Back to basics
Still, this is a cheap-but-stylish home phone option. There’s no SIM-card reader, no VOIP and no answering machine, but it’s basic and efficient.
It’s easy to add extra handsets, but given the particular nature of the keys you may want to make sure all your phones are the same – twin or triple handset versions of Magic Box are available. You’ll want to know what you’re doing, especially given the skimpy instruction manual.
Range was not as good as some of the other phones on the market, with marked interference over longer distances.
Stay nearer to the base station, though, and give the touch-sensitivity some time and you’ll find the Magic Box to be a solid home workhorse at a decent price.