The 10 Best Caller ID Displays
This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Even though cell phones have taken over the world, plenty of people still choose to have landlines and could benefit from a reliable caller ID box that’s compact and easy to use. We’ve ranked them based on available features, clarity of display, and user friendliness, and some of our selections even double as call blockers to keep those pesky telemarketers from disturbing you during dinner. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 27, 2020:
Whether you’re using a cell phone or a landline, reliable caller ID functionality is a must in order to avoid spending your time dealing with unwanted calls. These land line caller ID displays each can make your life easier by showing exactly who is trying to reach you and storing a record of all callers. Today we added in the Panasonic One-Touch, which offers a large screen and an easy, 5-button operation. If you don’t want to allow someone to call again, just click the large red “Block Call” button in the center of the controls. This convenient choice also lets you create a safe list so there’s no chance your trusted friends and family will have trouble getting through to you. It also features handy green and red indicator lights so you can see the status with a quick glance, and takes up very little countertop space.
We also added in the AT&T 326, an unobtrusive, small device with a neutral white color. If you don’t want to bother with a lot of controls or a cumbersome setup process, this could be the one for you, as it offers simple plug-and-play functionality: Just insert the batteries, plug this device into the phone jack on the wall, and plug your phone into this device’s empty jack. An LED lights up when there have been new incoming calls, and arrow keys let you scroll through the list. The “Delete” button makes it easy to remove any given record. Once caveat is this model is rather expensive, although for simple, reliable operation, it might be the one for you. It replaces the SBC SNet SID01-S on our list, which is unavailable at this time.
If you’re also in the market for a landline phone to go with your caller ID box, you might want to check out our list of best cordless phones, some of which come with multiple handsets and an answering machine, and many are equipped with their own caller ID screens.
A Brief History Of Caller ID
It was a harrowing existence, and people prayed every day for the sweet relief of the apocalypse.
Before caller ID, you had to answer the phone every time it rang if you wanted to know who was on the other line. It was a harrowing existence, and people prayed every day for the sweet relief of the apocalypse.
That all changed in 1968, however, when a Greek telecommunications engineer named Ted Paraskevakos developed a way to transmit the number of the person calling to the receiver's device.
A few years later, while working for Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, Paraskevakos developed a new transmitter and receiver for the purpose of caller identification, and convinced the local phone company to install them. Paraskevakos's new machine was so successful that other phone companies around the U.S. began to inquire about it.
Paraskevakos wasn't done with his innovation, however. He was also hard at work trying to figure out how to transmit alphanumeric information, so that the caller's name and location could be shared, as well.
The next breakthrough would come from a Japanese inventor named Kazuo Hashimoto, however. Hashimoto created a more effective receiver, which was then shared with AT&T and other major telecommunications companies worldwide.
These phone companies wanted the caller ID information to be discovered at one of their locations, and then have that information announced by voice once the other person answered. They also, conveniently enough, wanted to charge for this on a per-call basis.
In May 1984, Bell Atlantic began the first commercial trials of the technology. These were small-scale tests designed to examine how much revenue such a service could bring to the company, and they soon discovered that an enormous amount of people were willing to pay a reasonable price to screen their calls.
Then, in 1995, Bellcore created "Type II" caller ID, which allowed users to identify incoming callers even when they were already on the line. This new "call-waiting caller ID" also allowed people to perform a variety of actions on the incoming call, including switching to the new call, putting them on hold, or forwarding them to voice mail.
From there, caller ID continued to grow in popularity, until it eventually began to be seen as a basic service. Now, with cell phones, the function is included with almost every plan.
There's never been a better time to be a popular introvert.
Choosing The Right Caller ID For You
Let's address the elephant in the room right off the bat: if you're looking for a standalone caller ID unit, you're probably in an older demographic. Younger people are much more likely to drop landlines in favor of cell phones, and as such have little need for an extra caller ID service.
With that in mind, there are a few features that older users may find especially helpful.
With that in mind, there are a few features that older users may find especially helpful. The first is large buttons on the receiver, as well as large print on the display. After all, having the information at hand is useless if you can't read it, and being able to control the call is useless if you can't easily locate and press the right button.
The number of functions the device can perform are also important to consider. Do you want it to give you just the facts, or do you want to be able to store a ton of numbers, block unwanted callers, and more? Some are able to store a tremendous amount of data, such as extended call histories, but it's up to you whether that's something you're interested in.
If you get a lot of scammers and telemarketers calling you, there are some options that come with known suspicious numbers pre-blocked, as well as giving you the ability to quickly block new ones. That's an excellent feature for anyone who may have been the victim of phone-based fraud and doesn't want to run the risk of repeating it.
The good news is that most units are relatively inexpensive, so it's not the end of the world if you get one that's not ideal. They're also similar enough in function that it shouldn't be too difficult to find one that works for you.
Once you find that special device, you can get back to your busy life of not talking to anyone in no time.
Reasons To Keep Your Landline
In a world that's increasingly going digital, you might feel like a dinosaur for keeping that trusty old landline. However, there are sound reasons to keep your home phone around.
The first is cost. Cell phones are expensive, even prepaid ones, and having a landline is almost certainly a more budget-friendly decision. If you need a cell phone and don't see the purpose of having two numbers, keep in mind that many providers offer bundled packages that are actually less expensive if you include home phone service.
However, there are sound reasons to keep your home phone around.
A landline can be a literal lifesaver in an emergency, as well. Crazy as it might seem, emergency services still have difficulty finding the exact location of a caller on a mobile phone. Similarly, in the event of a natural disaster, having multiple ways to contact help is always a good thing.
Older users, or those with hearing difficulties, will likely appreciate the superior sound quality that landlines can offer. If you like spending time chatting with friends, but don't like having to say, "Huh?" every two seconds, then keeping a landline is a smart choice.
They're a good way to introduce youngsters to using the phone, as well. You can give your kid some access to their friends without giving them the entire world at their fingertips, so they have a fair amount of freedom without being exposed to the addictive potential of a smartphone.
Don't feel guilty — or worse, old — just because you want to keep your landline. Having one offers you quite a bit of security at an extremely low price.
Plus, there's no better excuse for needing to get off your cellphone than having your home phone ring.