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(Pocket-lint) - Texting is big business. On average the UK sends over 2 billion text messages a month to one another. It’s strange then that landlines can’t text, or can they? When BT announced a new service called BT Caller Display not only did it allow you to see who was calling you before you picked up the phone, but also gave you the ability to send and receive text messages on your landline. Of course you have to have a phone that is capable of doing this - you can’t get away with that 1920s Bakelite number but it’s still a little known fact.

In steps the Magic Messenger, hoping to bring texting to those who have so far abstained from the melee. Powered by three AA batteries and connecting via a standard telephone cable into you home system, the key features of the Magic Messenger are the small qwerty keyboard and clear display.

Setup is simple requiring only a registration text to get you going. The unit does come with running costs, charged by BT for the Caller Display service and charged at £4.50 per quarter. Individual SMS messages cost 10p per message and you won’t be charged for receiving them only sending.

In use the unit was actually a lot more study than we expected it to be for the price. The keyboards keys were rubbery to touch and had a nice feel, as was the size, not too big for space, but not too small as to need a childs hand to use it.

Aside from the simple texting element, the device offers plenty more features to woo you with including of course caller display information and how many people have how many people have called while you were out. You can password protect it so you can’t have other people reading your text messages and there is even a phonebook option to store up to 95 names and numbers.

For the truly lazy there is the ability to store pre-programmed characters like ? to save you time as well as being able to send one text out to multiple numbers at the same time.


For most people, the mobile will still be the easiest and more likely cheapest way forward. Texts on the BT scheme cost 10p a pop. For the non-mobile phone users or perhaps those that can't be bothered to learn all the shortcut texting codes then this will probably be a worthwhile investment and for the price and the three free months BT Caller Display throw in as well you can't really go wrong. In short this is for those who don't want the hassle of a mobile phone but want to join the texting revolution. Just remember to buy three four-packs of batteries at a time, the familiar bugbear for devices using three instead of two batteries.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 15 September 2004.