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==Does anyone use landlines anymore?==
When my husband and I first moved into our house about two years ago, we didn't bother with a landline for a while because we both have mobile phones and nobody in our family or circle of friends really bothers with landlines anymore, except for my parents. However, when we moved our internet etc to Sky, we decided we may as well make use of the line rental we were paying, and get a handset at least for my parents to phone me on, as they are reluctant to use mobiles.
As we caved in and bought handsets, we decided we may as well go the whole hog and get a unit with a couple of handsets, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. Our house is quite large (not bragging, just explaining why we needed two handsets!), so it was unlikely with the one handset that we would get to the phone in time if it was in another part of the house.
==Price and Availability==
We bought this unit from Tesco, and I seem to remember it cost around £50 on special offer. I was quite surprised at how expensive handsets are, although they also have lots more features these days. This base unit and the two handsets currently retails on Amazon for £63.99, although bizarrely they are cheaper in John Lewis where they cost £57. Ours are black, but they are also available in grey.
==What's in the box?==
The box contains two handsets, a base unit, and a charging unit for the additional handset. So the base unit is where the answering machine is, and one of the handsets sits in the base unit getting charged until you use it. The additional handset can be placed anywhere in the house, in the other charging unit. The box also contains comprehensive instructions on getting started, and features such as choosing ringtones, changing volume and so on.
As my husband deals with all things technical in our house, I can't comment on the set up of these handsets, however I seem to remember it was pretty much a case of plugging it into your phone line and hey presto, bring on the annoying sales calls! The instructions explained how to choose your ringtone, and this was the only thing we bothered to do before setting the phones up. The display screen on each phone displays the date and time which you will need to set correctly with the help of the instructions.
We're very good at remembering to replace then handsets into the charging units after using them, so we've never experienced them being decharged or running out of power whilst using. I would say the longest conversations I have using these phones are with my parents, who both insist on having exactly the same conversation with me, even though they're going to see me in a day or two anyway, and the power can last at least an hour without needing to be recharged. According to the product details, you can get up to 15 hours worth of talking time from these handsets before having to recharge them, but thankfully for our phone bill, I have never had the need to test this!
The sound quality has been perfect each time I've used this phone. I've never had any crackling or interference, despite wandering round the house on calls. I can hear the other person perfectly, and have never had issues with anyone not being able to hear me.
I must be honest here and say that although the range of these phones is something like 30 metres, I've never taken them too far from the base units, although I can walk around the house having a conversation without any disruption to the line. The range would be useful if you wanted to take it into the garden, but I've never wanted to this because (a) I have a mobile phone, and (b) our garden isn't really in a state for enjoying at the moment!
==Design & Comfort==
The handsets are curved so they sit in your hand nicely allowing them to be gripped comfortably whilst using. This is handy when you're on the phone for a while, as it feels quite natural and unforced. The handsets don't get hot in the same way mobile phones do, and this is why I tend to use them for longer conversations. They are also very lightweight so your arm doesn't ache after using them for prolonged periods.
The LCD screens are quite large on these phones (1.8 inches), and have an amber backlight which makes it easy to see the numbers on the screen. This is useful for anyone who might struggle to read smaller print. The buttons are also large enough to allow you to type in your number without hitting buttons by accident, and as you're holding the phone to your ear, it's not easy to accidentally press anything like I've experienced with other phones.
The base unit has an answering service which is so easy to use it's not even necessary to read the instructions. Basically, if you have a message it will flash with the number of messages, e.g. "1" will be flashing in red. There is a "Play" button to hear the message, and then the option to delete it if you don't need to save it or hear it again. All of this is very obvious from the base unit, so you don't need to refer to the instruction manual each time to remind yourself. You can record your own message if you're inclined to do so, but we didn't bother as not many people have our number so the only messages we tend to get are sales people. According to the product details, you can actually set up remote access to your messages, so you can access them out and about, but again, we haven't bothered with this because in my eyes this is what mobile phones are for. The answering service has the ability to record up to 30 minutes of messages.
The handsets have some useful features such as being able to set the phone to night mode. This allows you to set a time during which the phone will divert straight to the message service, for example you might decide between 10pm and 8am you don't want to be disturbed. We didn't actually bother with this, on the off chance that someone needed us urgently and couldn't get hold of us....not that I'm a worrier or anything.
You can also programme numbers into a phone book to set speed dials, but as we only use this phone for occasional use, this seemed to be more effort than it was worth. It would be useful if you were using it as your main phone however, as you can programme up to 100 numbers.
Other features include an alarm clock (which I didn't know about until now!), a speakerphone so you could potentially have multi-way conversations between more than two people, and caller ID so you can see who is calling before deciding whether to answer or not. This is where the programming of names and numbers is useful, because it will just display the name instead of you trying to guess if you recognise the number.
I can't really think of anything negative to say about these handsets. The only slight annoyance is that you have to place the phone back on the base unit at the necessary angle to hear the phone beep to ensure it is charging. When we first got the phones I wasn't placing them into their units properly, so I thought they were charging when they weren't. The phones will beep when they need recharging, which is annoying but a good reminder. Overall, we've been really pleased with these handsets, and I would recommend them to anyone looking for a sturdy and reliable telephone.
(Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
When my last land line handset finally bit the dust I toyed with two questions. Firstly, with free minutes on a mobile phone do I even need a land line and secondly, surely a phone is a phone, what are you exactly going to get for paying a little more?
Deciding I might as well have a land line handset as it came free with my broadband package I opted for a cheap but (so I thought) reasonably branded BT handset.
Soon I discovered that yes there can be many flaws with poor designed and cheaper handsets.
It might be my funny shaped head (which I don't think is too funny shaped) or it might be the rubbish The BT handset gave me problem after problem, from line drops to rubbish battery life and awkward controls. In fact it caused me so much grief that when I happened to have to use a friends Panasonic set I decided to replace mine the very next day.
This handset is absolutely faultless in every way. The set feels good, more expensive than my BT the buttons work as they should, the menu is intuitive and easy to set up. I actually found the manual more difficult to understand than just messing around with the handsets themselves. One of the best aspects is that having loaded the memory with all your required numbers, the whole lot can be transmitted to the second phone at the touch of a button.
The reception is crystal clear and can be increased in volume to suit the user as can the volume of the ringtone on both the base station and phone. One feature that I found very useful is that you can mute the ringtone on either the base station or phone (no more running to an empty base station when the phone is lying on the coffee table!). There are also a wide range of ring tones built in.
Battery life is far better than anything I have ever been used to (if like me you are notoriously bad at replacing the handset on the charging unit).
The answerphone can be controlled directly from the base station or from the individual instruments but although the built in message is a bit rubbish although you can obviously easily replaced it with your own recording.
Range of the handsets is as advertised, I have never had any issues with clarity even at a greater distance away from the receiver.
The phones display is extremely clear and although the buttons are more responsive I have less problems where they are pressed by accident during a call due to the overall better design of the handset.
Panasonic might be a name you know better from televisions and audio equipment but for me they have far surpassed BT with this range of handsets. I would sincerely recommend that if you are toying over whether an extra £10-£15 is really worth the extra money to seriously pay it. You will not regret it.