* Prices may differ from that shown
It's a funny old world sometimes when something breaks down and you least expect it, or at the very least just coincidence when someone in the family calls time and they're no longer around. The same happened when my father passed away in 2008 and the fridge freezer packed up within a week of the funeral. Now that I've lost my mother suddenly, "her" telephone in the form of a Cable and Wireless corded phone that had been bought in 2003 decided to give up in just the same way and I was determined to find a suitable replacement. Whilst these days telephones on land lines have taken an unexpected turn in the style stakes and constantly improving cordless units with greater travel and longer battery times, I still prefer a corded telephone in the home. This is simply because that whilst I have my trusty Wild and Wolf Trim phone bought as a tribute to my late father who at one time in his life had three of those garish, but timelessly shaped phones, I have been at my wits end with a John Lewis handset that I bought two years ago, that has been nothing but trouble - its origins belong to Binatone - a company that I have never been able to get on with because of poorly made handsets and buttons that don't function terribly well. I will admit then that the only reason that I bought the new Binatone Lyris 310 corded telephone was simply because it has a speakerphone function - a facility that I can't live without - and for the fact that it came with a cheap price.
Cost wise the Binatone's winning card is the fact that it costs £14-99 from a clearance sale at Sainsbury's. The next corded 2-pce telephone with a speakerphone function would cost me £24-99 for a BT "Big Button" telephone and having seen one in action already, I wasn't that taken with the way the buttons felt. The Binatone Lyris 310 offers nothing unusual except for a large LCD screen, an angry red LED indicator that powers up whenever the phone rings and a 1980's loud electronic ringer that is designed to annoy. I picked one up from Amazon.co.uk at a far cheaper cost of £9-99. There are of course, other features aside from the much needed speakerphone facilities:
==Nar2's Quick Skip Product Spec==
* Claimed "extra large 3 line LCD display." - But it's unlit, even when plugged in.
* Visual ringer indicator - incase you've set the phone to silent ringing.
* Caller display shows last 5 calls received in memory - apparently.
* Adjustable ringer & speakerphone volume.
* Comes with optional wall mount clip on and plasplugs & cross head screws.
* 10 number memory and 3 direct number memory setting.
* Claimed "elderly friendly phone."
* Normal cost price £14-99, now £11-99 from Sainsbury's & £9-99 from Amazon.co.uk
Generally the design and quality of the Lyris 310 isn't much to wax lyrical about! It is a dated phone by today's standards of soft, iconic edges and lacks anything stylish about it, other than the silver accents of the buttons with black numericals and a black body complete with black hand set. However compared to the Cable & Wireless corded phone that the Lyris replaces, this is a compact phone that is quite squat looking and takes up less room than the old phone did. About the only relief of colour appears to be the white-labelled speakerphone button in blue at the bottom of the phone fascia, but against the white phone I had to clean weekly due to mum's foundation being swiped against it, I am very much of the mind that a darker phone hides the dirt and is far easier to clean.
For the price, the plastics & quality on this predominately black phone is okay but they could be a lot better. The main silver key pad has a reasonable softness to each key when dialing a number, and although the large screen is definitely helpful to those who suffer from short sightedness and are woken up early Saturday mornings by call centres, and who have forgotten to put on their glasses, can see the caller display screen at a glance - or so Binatone would have you believe. The actual display requires two AAA batteries to take advantage of whatever number comes up on the call display and it is a function that you have to pay extra for with your telephone provider. However, the Binatone phone can't take rechargeable batteries which means you'll end up spending a small fortune to power up the LCD display every three months to feed the phone of more power. Quite why Binatone seem to think buyers are made of money is beyond me in this respect! More helpfully, at least there is the usual redial button as well as Binatone's trade mark memory setting on the last numbers that have called you and a timer to show you how long you've been garbling on for - but it isn't anything new here to what BT and other companies offer.
Where general performance is concerned, there are a few nice features but also with it, a few inherent downsides. The best aspect of the Lyris 310 is the speakerphone function - initially. In general use I tend to just hover over the main microphone set on top of the phone by the button than using the slippery black handset. Although the plastics are generally smooth, a bit of speckled plastics wouldn't have gone amiss here for the fact that it is quite easy to drop the hand set in use because of its slippery nature. It is also quite small compared to a lot bigger handsets I'm used to, and feels like an after thought rather than a true handset you'd feel comfortable using all the time for long time phone calls.
In use, the Lyris 310 performs a function but it could be so much better thought out. The large caller LCD screen for example is unlit - permanently - so it is hard to see in poor light who is calling or what number you've dialled and the corresponding thinness of the actual numbers displayed, can be difficult to see. The scroll button for going through the main functions of the phone is also poorly thought out, not able to scroll properly and only activates up and down with very little clarity. Plug the phone in from the moment you take it out of the box and treat it like any other phone - and the Binatone Lyris 310 gets to work straight away. The last number redial is a bit of a problem too - the phone is supposed to be able to dial the number you last dialled, hence the name - but unless you do it on the same day or straight after, the phone won't save the number the next day. Our old Cable & Wireless CWB200 never had this problem, so it's a bit of a shame that the Binatone doesn't have much of a daily memory.
Where sound quality is concerned, I haven't yet found any poor crackling yet; although having read a few damming reviews on Amazon UK, I am prepared to have an open mind instead of just waiting until the speech quality declines. In this instance, the Lyris 310 offers a basic level of speech quality from the hand set and from the speakerphone function, the volume isn't loud enough on the highest setting which is a further disappointment. Throughout this whole process of reviewing, you may be asking yourself why I want a corded phone in the first place. If anything is to go by with the power cuts we endured last year, having a corded phone makes a lot more sense than cordless, particularly when land line telephone lines are still up and running and don't get cut by power cuts in general.
Lastly the user manual is just far too tiny to be properly understood. The manual is a booklet made up of many pages and is about the size of a small pocket notebook. Online, a PDF copy is available but even looking at that displays a small display of wording, plenty of tables and plenty of graphics that should sum up a pretty well thought out user manual. But if you want to program the phone into saving numbers and incorporate speed dial, you'll have to spend a lot of time reading the hopelessly small booklet.
If you need a basic corded telephone that has a speakerphone, the Binatone Lyris 310 is probably going to be the cheapest option unless another budget brand comes along to steal its thunder. However, that would all be very well if there were so many rivals on the market. Thanks to cordless technology, there are only just a few corded speakerphones on the market, and if you are prepared to pay £50 for a corded phone by BT that lacks the big button style, you can get a far better made phone or put up with the Big Button style. In both cases though and for more practical reasons, a black phone is easier to put up with white that loses colour with age. Although it isn't stylish, the Binatone Lyris 310 is a basic phone and due to its pricing, it is very much a case of you pay for what you get. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2012