04.What to look for
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.
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.