04.What to look for
Large, clearly marked keys and a backlit keypad can help when making calls in low light.
- A colour display screen can be useful to read favorite contacts.
- Handsets supported This shows how many extra handsets of the same model can be used.
- A Handsfree feature allows you to hear a conversation when holding the handset away from the ear. All models we tested apart from the Panasonic KX-TG1811ALS and the Sagem model have this feature.
- If a model supports Generic Access Profile (GAP), you can use another handset that also supports GAP with your phone from any other manufacturer by simply plugging the handset into a power point. However, GAP compliance extends only to the basic specification of the product, which means added features such as phonebooks may not work.
- A headset port can be handy if you make long calls and want to continue a household task or jot down notes while talking.
- Baby monitor: Some models allow you to put the handset in another room and set it to monitor sounds such as a baby waking up.
- Phone book allows you to store your favourite contact numbers and dial the number by selecting the contact.
- The ability to page from the base to the handset can be handy, particularly if you leave the phone lying around the house. Alternatively, you can look for a model that has a dial pad and speaker on its base, so you can also make calls from there.
- While all cordless phones should come with rechargeable batteries, some models can use other AAA NiMH rechargeable batteries which are less expensive and more readily available.
- None of the models we tested include a telecoil that can couple with the telecoil in a hearing aid.
- If you are hard of hearing, look for models that provide extensive volume adjustment on the handset and a high handset speaker volume. All the Uniden models as a group produced significantly higher volume than the other models. Of the models included in the What to buy list, Siemens has some of the loudest (E450 and A260) and quietest (SL370).
Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology
Phones marked as DECT (Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology) run on the 1.8GHz - 1.9GHz band, which no other appliances use, which may be important to consider if your house is full of wireless gadgets. Most of the models we tested use this band.
Aside from appliances such as microwave ovens and vacuum cleaners interfering with the performance of your cordless phone, the introduction of wireless networking within the home has created another potential source of interference, particularly with models operating on the same 2.4GHz band as most wireless networking devices. Therefore, if you have a lot of appliances in the house the Uniden WDECT 3315 may not be the best option.
Other strategies introduced to deal with the increasingly crowded airwaves include Frequency-Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) where the phone constantly flicks between different frequencies to find the clearest channel within which to operate.