Product Type: BT telephones
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Peace in our time - with the BT 6500 Digital Cordless Phone
BT 6500 Twin
Member Name: steves001
BT 6500 Twin
Date: 31/01/14, updated on 03/02/14 (61 review reads)
Advantages: Regain some control over your incoming calls
Disadvantages: None to speak of
The BT6500 is available with up to 4 handsets. The model reviewed here is the twin handset version.
WHAT PRICE PEACE AND QUIET?
If, like us, you've been increasingly plagued with calls about PPI etc., despite being registered with the Telephone Preference Service etc., you might like to investigate this product. Since installing it a month or so back, our house has fallen strangely silent. We'd become so used to cold calls constantly disturbing us that this actually felt quite odd at first. I couldn't quite think what was 'wrong'! It may not be quite 100 per cent, but it's definitely a big improvement for such a modest investment.
At under £50 this was a good investment last year, having almost entirely eliminated our nuisance calls since then. The only extra cost may be from your network provider to enable caller display if, like us, you're not BT subscribers. I can confirm this product works fine with a Virgin Media landline, but there is a small monthly charge for caller id - currently just over £2 per month.
At the time, this model seemed to tick all the right boxes and was available at our local Argos for £49.99 when I checked their website. As it was the last one in stock I reserved online and collected the next day. It's currently available from Amazon for £50 with free delivery, and from Argos or the BT online shop for £69.99. (January 2014)
PACKAGING, INSTALLATION AND USER INSTRUCTIONS
The phone came neatly packaged, and installation was straightforward: just open box, unwrap, plug in to mains and phone sockets, charge and go. (Though you are advised to charge the batteries for 24 hours initially).
The 4 page illustrated 'User Guide' included is really just a quick start guide to check package contents, connection and initial setup. The sockets and cords are well illustrated. There is also a handy card with brief instructions for blocking calls, but the full instructions are available online in the full user guide - see address below.
Having dutifully charged batteries initially for 24 hours, I found the automatic setup quite straightforward and the initial settings sensible, with one exception: the answering machine is set to answer after just 4 rings. The downloadable guide does advise you how to change this to answer before any voicemail service. In fact, I'd strongly suggest saving a copy of this publication locally for future reference. It tells you, for instance, how to go about blocking those pesky nuisance calls. (See below)
Help is also available via the BT telephone Helpline and online at bt.com/producthelp.
SPECIFICATION, COMPATIBILITY, PERFORMANCE AND USABILITY
I've had no real difficulties using this phone. It ticks all the right boxes, and it's pretty much 'plug and play'. Calls are clear, as are the buttons, menus and controls. The handsets are virtually identical in size to our old Philips phone (reviewed previously), but the graphical display is slightly larger (at 1.8 inches) and easy enough to read with its light blue background illumination.
Although this is a BT product and some of the features and default contacts relate to BT services, it is compatible with other network providers. The only thing I needed to do was ask for Caller Display to be enabled on our account, which incurs a small monthly extra charge (currently just over two pounds per month). This can take up to 24 hours but is needed to allow call blocking.
In addition to text messaging and call controls (see below), all the usual functions are supported, including:
* Caller display
* Hands-free mode
* Call list/redial - up to 80 calls (50 incoming/30 out)
* Contact list - up to 200 entries
* Answering machine/call screening (up to 30 minutes)
Other functions (not fully tested)
* 'eco mode'
* Keypad lock
* Change ringtones
* Speed dial
* Handset paging
* Call waiting, ringback and diversion (check with network provider)
* Outgoing message recording
So far not tested as I've never actually attempted to use a handset beyond the immediate vicinity of the house and garden - there is apparently an out-of-range warning. In fact, I don't recall ever encountering this with a cordless phone, though it could be an issue for some.
One niggle I did have with our old phone was that entries and changes to the contact list on one handset failed to update the other. I was pleased to note this works seamlessly with the BT handsets. The other problem we had with our previous phone was a recurrent issue with batteries on one of the handsets. No problems here with the BT product.
The only other usability issue worth noting here relates to last number redial. There's no dedicated button for this, but redial is available from the call list.
TAKING CONTROL - THOSE PESKY CALLS!
This is where things get a bit more interesting with this product. The call controls on this device are fairly sophisticated. They allow you to set up 'Do not disturb', parental controls, assign VIPs and change access PIN. But the ones that attracted me were controls to block calls. These include blocking specific numbers - up to 10, a limit that may seem restrictive but has actually proved sufficient to date. The other options for 'blocking by call type' is less straightforward and should be approached with some caution.
Briefly, call types include:
* Withheld number
* No Caller ID
For a better understanding of each of these, it's worth reading various sources online. For example, I read that blocking calls with withheld numbers and no caller ID might block genuine calls from certain organisations and Skype calls. Callers will, however, still be able to leave messages.
I claim no expertise in this area, though I did find some very helpful information about call types on the web, and there are other organisations which offer help with nuisance calls.
It may also be worth noting here that, as I understand it, call blocking relies on network functionality, which may depend on your service supplier and contract.
CALL BLOCKING: THE BOTTOM LINE
Circumstances probably vary, but judging by our experience, you may find registering with Telephone Preference Service and using the specific number blocking feature on this device prove effective enough at cutting down on those intrusive calls.
We may just be lucky but so far this has been one of our best investments in recent years. The house seems almost too quiet - famous last words! In any case, this is also a perfectly functional and usable twin cordless phone still available at quite a reasonable price.
* Product description and full user guide from : www.shop.bt.com
* Frequently asked questions: bt.com/producthelp
* Telephone Preference Service : www.tpsonline.org.uk
[© SteveS001 2014. A version of this original review may appear on other review sites under the same name]
Summary: A DECT phone with a difference
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