Consumer Reports – Cordless-phones

It’s easier than ever to have a phone where you want one. The newest breed of cordless phoneslets you put a handset in any room in the house,Guest Posting even if no phone jack is nearby.

However, manufacturers still offer a bewildering array of phones: inexpensive models that offer the basics; multihandset, full-featured phones with a built-in answering machine; single-line and two-line phones; digital and analog phones, and different frequency bands. In many instances, a phone will have a phone-answerer sibling. Many phone-answerers come in a phone-only version. If you have a cordless phone that’s several years old, it’s probably a 900-MHz phone. Newer phones use higher frequencies, namely 2.4 or 5.8 GHz. They aren’t necessarily better than the older ones, but they may provide more calling security and a wider array of useful capabilities and features.


AT&T, Bell South, GE, Panasonic, Uniden, and VTech account for more than 70 percent of the market. VTech owns the AT&T Consumer Products Division and now makes phones under the AT&T brand as well as its own name.

The current trends include phones that support two or more handsets with one base, less expensive 2.4- and 5.8-GHz analog phones, and full-featured 2.4 and 5.8-GHz digital phones. Some of the multiple-handset-capable phones now include an additional handset with a charging cradle. About a third of the cordless phones sold include a digital answering machine.

A main distinction among cordless phones is the way they transmit their signals. Here are some terms that you may see while shopping and what they mean for you:

Analog. These phones are the least expensive type available now. They tend to have the better voice quality and enough range to let you chat anywhere in your house and yard, or even a little beyond. They are also unlikely to cause interference to other wireless products. But analog transmission isn’t very secure; anyone with an RF scanner or comparable wireless device might be able to listen in. Analog phones are also more likely than digital phones to suffer occasional static and RF interference from other wireless products. Price range: $15 to $100.

Digital. These offer about the same range as analog phones, but with better security and less susceptibility to RF interference. And, like analogs, they are unlikely to cause interference to other wireless products. Price range: $50 to $130.

Digital spread spectrum (DSS). A DSS phone distributes a call across a number of frequencies, providing an added measure of security and more immunity from RF interference. The range may be slightly better than that of analog or digital phones. Note that some DSS phones–usually the 2.4-GHz or the multiple-handset -capable phones with handset-to-handset talk capabilities–use such a wide swath of the spectrum even in standby mode that they may interfere with baby monitors and other wireless products operating in the same frequency band. Price range: $75 to $225 (for multiple handset systems).

Frequency. Cordless phones use one or two of the three available frequency bands:

• 900-MHz. Some manufacturers still make inexpensive, 900-MHz phones, usually analog. They are fine for many households, and still account for about one-quarter of the market.

• 2.4-GHz. The band most phones now use. Unfortunately, many other wireless products–baby monitors, wireless computer networks, home security monitors, wireless speakers, microwaves ovens–use the same band. A 2.4-GHz analog phone is inherently susceptible to RF interference from other wireless devices, and a 2.4-GHz DSS phone may cause interference in other products. However, DSS phones billed as “802.11-friendly” are unlikely to interfere with wireless computer networks.

• 5.8-GHz. The band that newer phones use. Its main advantage: less chance of RF interference because few other products currently use this band. Some phones are dual-band, but that only means they transmit between base and handset in one band and receive in another; you can’t switch to or choose one band or another.


Standard features on most cordless phones include handset earpiece volume control, handset ringer, last-number redial, a pager to locate the handset, a flash button to answer call waiting, and a low-battery indicator.

Some phones let you support two or more handsets with just one base without the need for extra phone jacks. Additional handsets including the charging cradle are usually sold separately, although more phones are being bundled with an additional handset and charging cradle.

An LCD screen, found on many handsets and on some bases, can display a personal phone directory and useful information such as the name and/or number dialed, caller ID, battery strength, or how long you’ve been connected. Caller ID displays the name and number of a caller and the date and time of the call if you use your phone company’s caller ID service. If you have caller ID with call waiting, the phone will display data on a second caller when you’re already on the phone.

A phone that supports two lines can receive calls for two phone numbers–useful if you have, say, a business line and a personal line that you’d like to use from a single phone. Some of the phones have two ringers, each with a distinctive pitch to let you know which line is ringing. The two-line feature also facilitates conferencing two callers in three-way connections. Some two-line phones have an auxiliary jack data port to plug in a fax, modem, or other phone device that can also be useful.

A speaker phone offers a hands-free way to converse or wait on hold and lets others chime in as well. A base speakerphone lets you answer a call without the handset; a handset speakerphone lets you chat hands-free anywhere in the house as long as you stay within a few feet of the handset.

A base keypad supplements the keypad on the handset. It’s handy for navigating menu-driven systems, since you don’t have to take the phone away from your ear to punch the keys. Some phones have a lighted keypad that either glows in the dark or lights up when you press a key, or when the phone rings. This makes the phone easier to use in low-light conditions. All phones have a handsetringer, and many phones have a base ringer. Some let you turn them on or off, adjust the volume, or change the auditory tone.

Many cordless phones have a headset jack on the handset and include a belt clip for carrying the phone. This allows hands-free conversation anywhere in the house. Some phones have a headset jack on the base, which allows hands-free conversation without any drain on the handset battery. Headsets are usually sold separately for about $20.

Other convenient features include auto talk, which lets you lift the handset off the base for an incoming call and start talking without having to press a button, and any key answer.

Some phones provide a battery holder for battery backup–a compartment in the base to charge a spare handset battery pack or to hold alkaline batteries for base-power backup, either of which can enable the phone to work if you lose household AC power. Still, it’s wise to keep a corded phone somewhere in your home. ألعاب

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