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Product Review: Jitterbug J is dialtone-riffic

Jitterbug J gray and white This week I tested the Jitterbug J, a super-simple phone that doesn't require a yearly contract -- just pay for minutes monthly. It's features were designed with seniors in mind: it's got big buttons, yes or no buttons (instead of a green call or a red cancel button) -- and there's even a fake dial tone sound when you open up the clamshell!

But this version has been modernized a bit with text messaging and Bluetooth capabilities. The phone contacts and settings (such as ringtones) can be changed on the phone or via the website MyJitterbug.com. It can also be done remotely for the user anytime by dialing '"0" to reach live U.S.-based customer service. Roadside assistance and live nurse calling features are available for an extra monthly fee. A calendar feature is coming later this year.

The Yes and No buttons are even incorporated into checking voicemail, with questions like ``Would you like to delete this message?''

I'm also a fan of how it provides a list of 20 pre-written text message responses, such as ''On my way,'' ''Doing fine'' and ''Call me.'' If younger folks are texting someone who has no idea how to type on a number pad, this is an easy way to respond. There is the option for users to type a personal message.

But the volume controls could be a problem for some folks. They are located on the front cover of the phone, and because you have to have the clamshell open to adjust the volume, it feels awkward.

Coverage is good because it piggybacks off other carriers. It's $147 for the phone. Plans start at $14.99 a month. I have seen cheaper simple phones on the market designed for seniors, but I've never come across a phone this simple to use. Because if you can't figure it out, just have the operator do it for you! (Although calling the operator will eat up 5 minutes off your plan.)

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Jessica Menises

Just5 phone is another gadget I know that has a very simple design yet presents very substantial features. Actually, this is offered at a more affordable cost as compared to Jitterbug.

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