From the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur

One advantage your cordless home phone has over your office phone is that you can walk and talk without losing your connection. Uniden's new home- or branch-office phone system delivers cordless convenience, office phone features and low-cost internet calling through Packet8.

Available for $159 at electronics retailers, Uniden's UIP1868P system includes a traditional desk set and cell phone-like cordless handset. It can accommodate up to 10 cordless handsets starting at $70 each, depending on the model.

The system sports common business niceties like call transfers, conferencing and intercom between handsets, and it has an excellent speaker-phone. Instead of hard-to-remember key codes, you access features via labeled function keys like the "Do Not Disturb" button, which forwards calls directly to voice mail.

Meanwhile, a Packet8 Freedom Unlimited calling plan adds virtual PBX services like caller ID, find me/follow me call forwarding and even voice-mail attachments to e-mail. There's unlimited free internet-only calling and 1,500 minutes of local and long-distance calling over the traditional phone network in North America for $20 a month. Toll-free or out-of-area numbers and true E911 emergency support are small additional charges.

Like you, I always try to set up equipment without reading the instructions. No problem with the UIP1868P. Plug its AC adapter into a wall socket, its Ethernet cable into your broadband connection, and visit the Packet8 website to activate service. Simple menus on each handset's LCD walk you through setup of voice mail and other preferences.

The UIP1868P avoids conflicts with your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network or microwave by communicating over the 5.8GHz band. The system's only flaw is the lack of separate extensions and voice-mail boxes for each handset oruser. But after all, this is a ridiculous amount of functionality for a ridiculously low price.

Systems like this used to cost thousands, and they required a phone technician to set up or change. Instead, you can equip a home office or branch office in minutes, or pick up the UIP1868P and move it to any internet connection, any time.

Don't travel to your next trade show or off-site conference without one.