When buying a new cordless phone it is often difficult to see what the relative advantages and disadvantages of the different models are. Knowing what to look for when buying a DECT cordless phone can be difficult.
Knowing what they can do and what the key specifications are is key to many of the decisions that need to be made.
Here, we highlight some of the key points to look at when buying a DECT cordless phone so you can get the best phone for your situation.
Key points for buying a cordless phone
Today’s cordless DECT phones have many facilities, some of which were not common a few years ago.
Some of the more useful points are given below.
- Call block: With the number of nuisance calls rising rapidly, the capability to block these calls is becoming increasingly important. Nowadays, even relatively basic cordless phone models allow up to fifty numbers to be blocked. Others may bar calls by type, e.g. international calls, or those with withheld numbers. The most sophisticated call blocking phones can even act as a sort of virtual secretary, asking anyone who calls you to leave their name before the phone will ask you whether you want to take the call.
- Range: Range is an important issue for any cordless phone. It may be necessary to walk around the home or office without the need to worry about the connection being lost. Whilst the concept of you get what you pay for when you buy a phone applies to many areas, in general most DECT cordless phones will be about the same because the maximum power levels are generally used. Figures of 50 metres indoors and 300 metres outdoors are often quoted. However walls and other objects can add significant attenuation to the signal, so don’t count of figures of 50 metres indoors.
To overcome this problem, a DECT repeater can be used. This can plug into the mains power line and it will repeat the signal, adding to the range. These are ideal to cover deadspots - pug the repeater in where it can receive the signal from the base station, and also provide coverage of the deadspot. These repeaters can sometimes be bought in bundles of multiple phones, but they can also be bought separately, but will need to be set up to access the DECT net, but this is normally straightforward.
- Answering machine: Most cordless phones now include an answering machine. If an answering machine is important then there are a number of options - some cordless phones have full controls built into the base, whilst others allow access via the handset. Having the base unit record and store the messages makes it easier to see and to access any messages, but it does add to the size of the unit.
Another consideration when buying a cordless phone with an answering facility is the recording capacity. Some lower end models have as little as about 10 minutes, while the best will record an hour of messages - it is well worth working out what is needed and checking the specifications of the different models.
- Single handset or multiple handsets: Cordless phones typically come in single, twin, triple and quad packs. If more than one handset is needed then additional handsets are normally cheaper when the whole system is bought as a multipack. They also come ready programmed to operate as a single system. However, if additional handsets are needed, then they don’t all have to be from the same manufacturer - this is the advantage of standardisation as all modern phones are Generic Access Protocol (Gap) compatible. This means that any compatible handset can be used with any base unit.
- Caller ID: Caller ID is a very useful function - it displays the number or other identification for the incoming call. Caller ID is not function of the phone, and modern DECT cordless phones will be able to display this as they are Caller ID enabled. Instead Caller ID is a service provided by the telecommunications network provider, sometimes for a subscription, but a service provided by the telecommunications network provider. However some more advanced DECT cordless phones have additional capabilities like Picture Caller ID or Talking Caller ID which may be useful in some instances. If you need this capability it will be dependent upon the cordless phone, so this is a point to check when buying a cordless DECT phone.
- Call transfer & intercom: With many DECT cordless phones being used in multiple handset ‘ networks’ it is often useful to be able to use the phones as an intercom, or alternatively to use the facility to transfer calls from one handset to another. These features are available on all modern DECT handsets and therefore in its basic form this should not affect the buying process. Ease of use might be an issue, so this might be worth looking at. If call transfer and intercom does not appear on the feature list in the advertisements, then check that it is available.
- Brand: When buying a cordless phone, one major attribute can be the brand. Unknown brands may be poorer quality and they may not be as easy to use of not so reliable. Some of the larger names need to continually provide high quality product and therefore they have an interest in maintaining quality and keeping the customers happy.
- Price: Consider how much you want to pay. There is a difference between the low cost end and the high price end of the market. It very much depends what sort of cordless phone you want to buy. Very broadly the market can be split into three very rough categories:
- Low cost: Budget cordless phones are often ideal for the person who wants basic functionality and possibly does not use all the facilities provided by the higher end models. However just because it is low cost does not mean that the sound quality should be much less. Buying a phone in the bottom cost bracket may mean that usability is not quite so good, and styling may be a bit more basic - possibly ideal for someone who does not use their phone much. But still possibly best to opt for a well known brand as this will provide some guarantees of quality.
- Mid range: When buying a mid range cordless phone, the styling should be a bit better and there is likely to be more functionality - call blocking, room monitoring, Bluetooth, and possibly even data synchronisation. There is plenty of choice in this range and this means there is a choice of some very good models and some bargains to be had.
- High end: The high end of the cost range is reserved for those wanting something a little extra. Although there may not be much to differentiate them in terms of facilities, the look and feel is likely to be very much better. When buying a phone in this sector make sure it is what you want otherwise you could spend a lot of money for little advantage.
- Mechanical characteristics: When buying cordless phone, it is often useful to consider some of the mechanical characteristics. Some phones may ‘feel’ better than others. However more concrete may include the size of the buttons. This may be an issue for older users, and some good large button models are available.
With so many different DECT cordless phones on the market these days, it pays to take a little time to sort out what you really want. Often if you pay more you get a better item, and this is true of some aspects of cordless phones, but know what you want and what is available, and you can sometimes buy a perfectly serviceable cordless for less than some of the most expensive. It pays to know what you want, what the best makes are and what facilities you want.
One major way of making sure that you buy the right DECT cordless phone is to read the online reviews. A quick search will reveal a large number addressing the current products. There will always be a spread of comments, so just because one person does not like something does not mean it is poor. Look at the overall bias of comments and choose the best to buy.
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