Cordless phones with answering machine review 2009

An answering machine offers freedom at home and peace of mind when away.
 
Learn more
 
 
 
 
 
 

01 .Introduction

Cordless phone with answering machine

Test results for 17 cordless phones, priced from $70 to $220

All the phones tested here are charged via a base station that sends the phone signal wirelessly to the handset, allowing you to have a conversation while moving around the house. While most of these phones perform well overall, there is a significant difference in some key performance areas, including range and time required to recharge the handset. If long-range reception is not an issue, extra features such as SMS support, colour displays and volume control may be more important factors to consider when choosing your next landline phone.

Most phone providers, including Optus and Telstra, have a message bank service that effectively provides the same functionality as the answering machines incorporated in the models on test. However, you will be charged $6 per month for this service as well as additional charges for extra features such as selective call acceptance and number diversion. Telstra also has a free message service (Telstra 101) with basic message and retrieval functionality.

Please note: this information was current as of June 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.


CHOICE independence is guaranteed

These independent ratings are only available through membership with CHOICE Online. Arm yourself with our unique and exclusive information and make your next purchase with confidence.

Brands tested

  • Doro Neo Bio 25r
  • Oricom eco5200
  • Oricom Slim 8800
  • Panasonic KX-TG4391AL
  • Panasonic KX-TG7341AL
  • Panasonic KX-TG8321AL
  • Siemens Gigaset A265
  • Siemens Gigaset SL375
  • Telstra 2400a (A)
  • Telstra 8200a
  • Telstra Slim 8400a
  • Telstra V850a
  • Uniden DECT 2035
  • Uniden DSS 8955
  • Uniden Elite 9035+1
  • Uniden SSE17+1
  • Uniden WDECT 3355
 
 

Sign up to our free
e-Newsletter

Receive FREE email updates of our latest tests, consumer news and CHOICE marketing promotions.

 

The following models scored the best results in our test.

What to buy
Brand Price
Panasonic KX-TG8321AL $150
Siemens Gigaset A265 $70
Panasonic KX-TG7341AL $110
Siemens Gigaset SL375 $220
Oricom Slim 8800 $109

Results table

Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

 
Performance
Brand / model (in rank order)Overall score (%)Ease of use score (%)Range score (%)Sound quality score (%)Battery life score (%)Answering machine score (%)Talk time (hours:minutes )Standby time (days)Recharge time (hours:minutes )Price ($)
Panasonic KX-TG8321AL
www.panasonic.com.au
85
88
70
87
91
86
19:30
10
4:49
150
Siemens Gigaset A265
www.siemens.com.au
83
79
80
86
89
83
18:30
10
2:43
70
Panasonic KX-TG7341AL
www.panasonic.com.au
82
83
60
87
95
84
21:30
10
3:45
110
Siemens Gigaset SL375
www.siemens.com.au
80
83
90
85
59
84
14:00
6
1:34
220
Oricom Slim 8800
www.oricom.com.au
79
79
80
88
65
89
14:30
7
9:19
109
Doro Neo Bio 25r
www.doro.com.au
77
76
60
88
81
86
15:00
10
3:10
90
Telstra Slim 8400a
www.telstra.com.au
77
80
80
85
57
88
13:00
6
9:40
120
Uniden DECT 2035
www.uniden.com.au
77
80
40
87
90
91
19:00
10
8:58
80
Telstra V850a
www.telstra.com.au
75
69
70
88
69
89
16:30
7
11:25
130
Telstra 2400a(A)
www.telstra.com.au
74
74
50
86
77
88
13:00
10
12:42
110
Uniden Elite 9035+1
www.uniden.com.au
71
83
30
90
71
83
11:30
9.5
9:47
200
Uniden WDECT 3355
www.uniden.com.au
71
82
40
86
59
91
8:00
8.5
10:26
100
Telstra 8200a
www.telstra.com.au
70
74
30
85
79
88
14:00
10
9:28
70
Uniden DSS 8955
www.uniden.com.au
67
77
30
88
57
87
8:00
8
10:05
150
Panasonic KX-TG4391AL
www.panasonic.com.au
65
83
20
88
47
86
8:00
6
3:24
130
Uniden SSE17+1
www.uniden.com.au
64
80
30
86
38
89
6:00
5
8:58
150
Oricom eco5200
www.oricom.com.au
61
69
60
85
15
81
3:30
1.5
7:46
80
 


 
Features
Brand / model (in rank order)Backlit keypadColour displayGAP compatibleHandsets supportedHeadset portHearing aid compatibleBaby monitorCall waitingPhone book* Ringer off settingWall mountableSMS compatibleMuteHandsfree
Panasonic KX-TG8321AL
www.panasonic.com.au
6


9SD/200


Siemens Gigaset A265
www.siemens.com.au

4




10SD/40

Panasonic KX-TG7341AL
www.panasonic.com.au

1





Siemens Gigaset SL375
www.siemens.com.au
6


9SD/250
Oricom Slim 8800
www.oricom.com.au

5


9SD/100

Doro Neo Bio 25r
www.doro.com.au

6




Telstra Slim 8400a
www.telstra.com.au



5


9SD/200

Uniden DECT 2035
www.uniden.com.au


6




Telstra V850a
www.telstra.com.au


5





Telstra 2400a(A)
www.telstra.com.au



5





Uniden Elite 9035+1
www.uniden.com.au


6




Uniden WDECT 3355
www.uniden.com.au


4
10SD/100HS 10BS

Telstra 8200a
www.telstra.com.au



5





Uniden DSS 8955
www.uniden.com.au


10



Panasonic KX-TG4391AL
www.panasonic.com.au


1




Uniden SSE17+1
www.uniden.com.au


1

10SD


Oricom eco5200
www.oricom.com.au


4






 


 
Features
Specifications
Brand / model (in rank order)Dialpad and speaker on base unitTwo-way communication between handsetsBase station ringer loudness (dB)Handset ringer loudness (dB)Adjustable ringer volume settingsHandset volume control settingsMaximum speaker volume for handset (dB)Number of ringtonesPolyphonic ringtonesRecording of conversationBattery typeCan use other rechargeable NiMH batteriesDigital system (GHz)
Panasonic KX-TG8321AL
www.panasonic.com.au


78
73
7HS/1BS
4HS/6HSS
74
20
15
2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh

DECT 1.8
Siemens Gigaset A265
www.siemens.com.au


80
76
6HS
3HS/ HSS 5
72
10


2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh

DECT 1.8
Panasonic KX-TG7341AL
www.panasonic.com.au
83
74
7HS/ 4 BS
4HS/6HSS
78
15
10

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh
DECT 1.8
Siemens Gigaset SL375
www.siemens.com.au


74
6HS
3HS/5HSS
73
30
20
Batt pack Li-Ion 3.7V 700mAh

DECT 1.8 
Oricom Slim 8800
www.oricom.com.au



71
6HS/10BS
5HS/5HSS
83
10
8

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh
DECT 1.8
Doro Neo Bio 25r
www.doro.com.au


76
74
6HS
5HS/5HSS
78
10
5

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 600mAh
DECT 1.8
Telstra Slim 8400a
www.telstra.com.au

77
72
6HS/6BS
5HS/5HSS
78
15
10

Batt pack NiMH 2.4 V 600 mAh
DECT 1.8
Uniden DECT 2035
www.uniden.com.au

78
66
4HS/ 4BS
6HS
84
7
4

Batt pack Ni-Cd 2.4 V 650 mAh

DECT 1.8
Telstra V850a
www.telstra.com.au

78
76
5HS/9BS
5HS/5HSS
76
10


Batt pack NiMH 2.4 V 600 mAh
DECT 1.8
Telstra 2400a(A)
www.telstra.com.au

76
74
6HS/6BS
5HS
78
10
5

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh

DECT 1.8
Uniden Elite 9035+1
www.uniden.com.au

82
72
6HS/10BS
6HS
79
10
5

Batt pack NiMH 2.4V 650 mAh

5.8 GHz DDS
Uniden WDECT 3355
www.uniden.com.au

82
73
3HS
4HS/ 6HSS
75
20
10
Batt pack NiMH 3.6 V 800 mAh

WDECT 2.4GHz
Telstra 8200a
www.telstra.com.au

77
76
8HS/6BS
5HS/5HSS
80
10
5

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 550mAh
DECT 1.8
Uniden DSS 8955
www.uniden.com.au
79
72
4HS/4BS
6HS/10BS
79
7
4

Batt pack NiMH 3.6 V 800 mAh

5.8 GHz DDS
Panasonic KX-TG4391AL
www.panasonic.com.au


76
74
4HS/3BS
3HS/6HSS
74
7
4

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 630mAh
5.8 GHz
Uniden SSE17+1
www.uniden.com.au

90
79
3HS/3BS
3HS/8HSS
96
2

Batt pack Ni-Cd 3.6 V 500 mAh

2.4 GHz
Oricom eco5200
www.oricom.com.au

78
5HS/8BS
5HS/5HSS
87
9
5

2 NiMH AAA 1.2 V 600mAh
DECT 1.8
 

Using the table

Scores The overall score is made up of:

Ease of use: 30%
Range: 20%
Sound quality: 20%
Battery life: 20%
Answering machine: 10%

Price Recommended retail, as of May 2009.

Table notes

* SD = speed dial.
(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
HS = Handset
BS = Phone base unit

How we test

Ease of use Our testers consider factors such as quality of the instruction manual, feel and comfort of the handset, whether the screen is easy to read and any other special features.

Sound quality A panel of users makes calls in a moderately noisy environment and assesses speech clarity, speech loudness, line noise and background noise reduction on each model.

Battery life After fully charging each phone’s battery, our testers set the phones to talk and standby, and time how long each setting lasts. They also time how long the phones take to recharge.

Range For each phone, our tester uses a wall of uniform concrete construction obstructing the line of site to the base station. The base station is placed within a warehouse building with solid concrete foundations and walls, while the handset is located outside on the opposite side of the wall. Maximum range is determined either by when the radio link is cut or a subjective assessment of when the degradation of voice quality makes conversation unacceptable. The actual ranges attained vary from less than five metres to 45m. A significantly larger range could be expected to be achieved under normal domestic building situations.

Answering machine Our testers look at the ease of use when creating a message and managing calls, as well as sound clarity and quality for both the message recording and the message left by the caller.

Profiles - What to buy

Panasonic KX-TG8321AL

Price $150 Panasonic KX-TG8321AL

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Screen saver mode.
  • Alarm.
  • Colour LCD.
  • Headset connection.
  • Long standby time.

Bad points

  • Loses time setting after a power cut.

Siemens Gigaset A265

Price $70 Seimens A265

Good points

  • Second-best range performance.
  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Alarm.
  • Long standby time.

Bad points

  • No call waiting.
  • No polyphonic ringtones.

Panasonic KX-TG7341AL

Price $110 Panasonic KX-TG7341AL

Good points

  • Keypad on base station allows calls to be made without handset.
  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Long standby time.
  • Longest talk time of models on test.
  • Alarm.
  • Call privacy.

Bad points

  • Loses time setting after a power cut.

Siemens Gigaset SL375

Price $220 Siemens Gigaset SL375

Good points

  • Colour display.
  • Bluetooth.
  • SMS compatible.
  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Separate base station and charger.
  • Alarm clock and calendar.
  • Two-way communication without the base.
  • Best range of models on test.

Bad points

  • No headset port (only Bluetooth as an option).
  • Not able to access messages from base.
  • No indication on base that there is a message.

Oricom Slim 8800

Price $109 Oricom Slim 8800

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Baby monitor.
  • Alarm.
  • Clear display screen.
  • Has call barring to prevent certain numbers being dialled.

Bad points

  • Not as comfortable to hold compared with other models on test.

 

Profiles - the rest

Doro Neo Bio 25r

Price $90Doro Neo Bio 25r

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Long standby time.
  • Headset connection.
  • Alarm.

Bad points

  • Power adapter does not have an efficiency marking like the rest of the models on test.
  • High standby power consumption.

Telstra Slim 8400a

Price $120Telstra Slim 8400a

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • SMS support.
  • Has DECT headset for hands-free operation.
  • Alarm.

Bad points

  • No polyphonic ringtones.

Uniden DECT 2035

Price $80Uniden DECT 2035

Good points

  • Long standby time.
  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Privacy mode.

Bad points

  • Lowest ringer loudness on the handset of the models on test.

Telstra V850a

Price $130Telstra V850a

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.

Bad points

  • No polyphonic ringtones.
  • Loses time setting after a power cut.

Telstra 2400a

Price $110Telstra 2400a

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • SMS support.
  • Large keypad.
  • Large display.
  • Long standby time.

Bad points

  • No hands-free feature.

Uniden Elite 9035+1

Price $200Uniden Elite 9035+1

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Headset connection.
  • Privacy mode.

Bad points

  • Loses time setting after a power cut.

Uniden WDECT 3355

Price $100Uniden WDECT 3355

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Two-way communication between base station and handset.
  • Recording of conversation.
  • Can make calls from base without handset.
  • Privacy mode.
  • Headset connection.
  • Easy set-up for answering machine and base station option.

Bad points

  • External aerial.
  • Loses time setting after a power cut.

Telstra 8200a

Price $70Telstra 8200a

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Three-way chat.
  • Alarm.
  • Long standby time.

Bad points

  • Loses time setting after a power cut.
  • Very poor range test results.

Uniden DSS 8955

Price $150Uniden DSS 8955

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Can make calls from base without handset.
  • Privacy mode.
  • Headset connection.
  • Hearing aid compatible.

Bad points

  • Very poor range test results.

Panasonic KX-TG4391

Price $130Panasonic KX-TG4391

Good points

  • Headset port.
  • Alarm.

Bad points

  • Worst range of models on test.
  • No out-of-range warning.
  • Only one extra handset supported.

Uniden SSE17+1

Price $150Uniden SSE17+1

Good points

  • Headset connection.
  • Visual ringer.
  • Can make calls from base in a power outage.
  • Large display.
  • Emergency dialling.
  • Large keypad.

Bad points

  • Loses time setting after a power cut.
  • Poor range test results.
  • Only one extra handset supported.

Oricom eco5200

Price $80Oricom

Good points

  • Out-of-range warning.
  • Can make calls from base without handset.

Bad points

  • No backlit keypad.
  • No ringer on phone when connected.
  • Shortest talk and standby times.
  • No headset port.
  • Short battery performance.

Landline phone features

  • 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 favourite contacts.
  • Handset supported shows how many extra handsets of the same model can be used.
  • If a model supports Generic Access Profile (GAP), you can use another GAP handset from any other manufacturer simply by plugging the handset into a power point. However, GAP compliance extends only to basic operations, which means added features such as phonebooks may not work, so its generally better to think about the number of handsets you might need now and in the near future when you make your initial purchase.
  • A headset port can be handy if you don’t want to hold the phone to your ear during a long conversation or you want to take notes while talking.
  • A Baby monitor allows you to put the handset in another room and set it to monitor sounds such as a baby crying.
  • Call waiting lets you know when someone is trying to call you while you are talking to someone else. Users have the option to take the call or allow the phone to automatically take a message while you continue the first call.
  • Phone book allows you to store your 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. All the models on test have this ability. Alternatively, look for a model that has a dial pad and speaker on the base unit, 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.
  • A telecoil that can couple with the telecoil in a hearing aid is a useful feature; however, it is not available on many models.
  • If you are hard of hearing, look for models that provide extensive volume adjustment on the handset and a high handset speaker volume.
  • A phones' Digital system (GHz) when marked as DECT (Digitally Enhanced Cordless Technology) runs on the 1.8GHz-1.9GHz band, which no other appliances in the home uses. This may be important to consider if your house is full of wireless gadgets or you use a wireless network operating on the 2.4GHz band. Other bands such as DSS (Digital Spread Spectrum) and FHSS (Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum) search for the best possible frequency within a band if interference is detected.

Power consumption

While power consumption on cordless phones may not seem significant compared with large appliances such as a TV or air conditioner, cordless phones are on for extended periods of time, which may be a consideration for users wanting to limit their power usage. The Siemens SL375 and Uniden SSE17+1 consume the least power when the handset is not in the base station, while the Doro Neo Bio 25r consumes the most at 2.6W. The Uniden models are fairly efficient in standby mode, consuming no more than 1W. Most of the models consume between 1.2 and 1.8W when the fully charged handset is left in the base with theSiemens SL375 consuming significantly more power than the rest of the models on test at 3.3W.

Sight and/or hearing impaired option

The Uniden SSE17+1 did not score well in our standby time or range test, although it should be fine for smaller suburban properties. However, it has several unique features that appeal to the hearing and/or sight impaired. It has the loudest ringer on both the handset and base of all the phones on test, as well as the loudest maximum handset speaker volume by a significant margin.

A bright red light alerts the user to an incoming call and the large, clearly marked dialling buttons on the corded base station, which has a backlit keypad, make it an ideal design for the sight impaired. It's also the only model on test that will operate in a power outage – the cordless handset won’t operate but the corded base station will receive and make calls.

Many homes have a variety of devices that can crowd the airwaves with electronic interference. 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 introduced another potential source of interference, particularly with models operating on the same 2.4GHz band as most wireless networking devices.

This increasingly-common problem led to the introduction of cordless phones using the less congested 1.8GHz band. 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.

Gaussian Frequency-Shift Keying (GFSK) is another technique that uses a Gaussian filter to smooth frequency deviations to make the voice appear as clear as possible.

Interference

Got a lot of wireless products at home, such as a baby monitor, home security monitor, wireless laptop computer or even a microwave? You may find that you get some interference between them and certain cordless phones.

  • Phones that marked as DECT run on a 1.8-1.9 GHz frequency which no other appliances use – so this might be the one to look out for if your house is full of wireless gadgets.
  • Other formats such as WDECT and DSS use what’s called ISM bands at either 5.8 GHz or 2.4 GHz which might cause some problems, for example with microwaves which emit a 2.4 GHz frequency when they are in action.

Cordless phones: a health risk?

Concern about the safety of mobile phones has lead to questions about the safety of cordless phones.

According to the Australian Government Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency there is no substantiated evidence that even using a mobile phone causes any harmful effects.

Cordless phones, which are much lower powered devices only need to transmit signals over a relatively short distance to the receiver in your house or office. Currently there is no evidence to suggest that using a cordless phone can be a health hazard.