“ Caller display - answering machine - Caller ID - cordless - 300 m outdoor range - telephone book - 100 hours standby - 50 m indoor range „
I bought the BT Reveal to replace an ageing tape based answering machine. Though it was expensive, I was taken by the looks and digital tapeless is obviously the right way to go.
This is a frustrating product - it does some things really well and some things not so well. On the plus side, it looks good, sound quality is fine, both as a phone and as an answering machine. The clock display on the back of the handset is handy, and doubles up as a caller ID display for incoming calls if you subscribe to your operators caller ID service.
If the caller is in the phone's list of contacts, the caller's name is displayed rather than the number, which is a nice touch, and the display is big enough and bright enough to be visible from across the room. The phone list can be transferred from a SIM card from a mobile phone, which is a neat trick and can save lots of keying in of names and numbers.
It can also detect if the line is in use from another phone, flashing the blue illumination on the base station, which is a nice touch so you don't end up barging in on some else's call.
Usability Could Be Improved With BT Reveal Answering Machine
On the downside it must have been a Friday afternoon in the usability department when this phone's software was designed. The base station flashes is a call has come in which wasn't picked up, but you have to tangle with the menu system to clear both any messages and separately the list of calls. I would have thought that once you clear the message the phone should have been bright enough to clear the associated call, rather than making you go through that again.
While the flashing blue display draws attention to a call that hasn't been picked up, this phone does not sense that another extension may have picked the call up, and the flashing is attention-grabbing enough that I seemed to spend a lot of time clearing the list of received calls to stop the blinking light!
BT Reveal Handset Ergonomics
Form may have taken precedence over function with the curiously designed handset - it is ever so slightly convex, which means if the earpiece is pressed to the ear the microphone is a little bit further from the mouth than normal for phones. People didn't seem to struggle at all on the other end but if the handset will be used in a noisy environment I could see this might be an issue.
Overall from a usability point of view my old analogue tape Response 300 answering machine was far better thought out than the Reveal. and I was not too sad when this answering machine was taken out by a lightning strike. I replaced it with a BT Verve 450 answering machine bought for a fifth of the price off Ebay which is a joy to use and far better thought out, though I have to admit that on looks alone the Reveal was more attractive!
Well, my old phone had broken and its one of those things that I hate to replace as it usualy takes me so long to get to grips with the new controls etc and as my old phone was a phone and answerphone combined it doubled the uselessness of my technical ability in finding a suitable replacement.
So scouting online for a phone and answerphone combined I was bambarded with multiple handset options but as I only required one handset with an answerphone my choices appeared limited.....
Then I spotted the snazzy futuristic looking BT reveal, although at the top end of my budget at 79.99 from Tesco.com it looked good, had an integral answerphone and only the one handset - result! So I brought it.
APPEARANCE AND HANDSET
Setting it up was easy and it looked really good when the handset is put on the base it glows a light blue and the shiny black square base displays the time in glowing blue letters.
When the phone rings the back of the handset lights up and reveals the caller's number or name if it's in your address book and you've subscribed to the Caller Id service with your phone company.
However, The handset is uncomfortable to use as when it's held to the ear it's flat on its shiny back but convex on the front held towards your face where the keypad and microphone sit so the microphone is bent away from your face. This makes it hard to place both ends of the handset close to your face let alone holding it between your ear and shoulder, as I often have to (too many children and things to do to waste time chatting!). The screen above the keypad is poor quality in appearance too, like an early '90s mobile phone display.
SPEAKERPHONE AND SIM
The phone has a speakerphone built into the handset rather than the base station. This is handy if you're in another room from the base unit.
There's also a SIM card slot which means you can transfer numbers easily from your mobile (much better than keying them in all over again), and as it's a SIM writer as well as reader you can add new numbers from the phone to your mobile card. The phone memory holds a maximum of 255 names and numbers.
Text messages can be sent from and received by the Reveal, using predictive text input if you wish. These can be set so anyone can read them, or personal inboxes can be configured for different family members to offer extra privacy, though setting these up can be fiddly.
Messages on the answerphone can only be played back on the handset not the base station, which I really didn't like, I often play my messages once I've got in from being out and often have other things to do at the same time, not stand there holding the handset that is shaped away from my ear??! Athough remote checking is possible from another phone I required something a bit more simple and efficient, the dodgy answerphone was one of the big no nos for me. However, the digital answering machine can hold up to 20 minutes of messages, which is handy for your long-winded callers if you don't mind holding the handset for 20 mins!
It's a DECT phone so you can add extra handsets (up to four more).
Other features include an alarm clock, call timer and a blue downlight on the base to tell you there's a new message, text or call coming in. And there's a choice of up to 15 ringtones althought, like the display they sound very dated and lack pazazz.
The price of the handset has recently dropped, making it more appealing, though it's still not cheap. BT's attempts to make the Reveal modish and eye-catching work well, but you'll have to accept a compromise on the ease of use or do like I did and take it back to the shop and get your old phone fixed!
I must be getting all sensible in my old age because when my sister asked me, just before Christmas last year, what she could get me as a gift I suggested a new telephone for my house. When Id moved in with my husband wed been kindly donate many household items, including telephones, but weve reached a point where wed like things of our own now, so as requested my sister bought us the BT Freestyle 3500 Duo.
The duo set comes with 2 handsets, 1 main docking station with telephone line cord, 1 small docking station and 2 mains power cables(with plugs) as well as a detailed user manual to help you through the set up process and any problems you might face, it uses both a combination of step by step instructions as well as illustrations.
The duo set comes in a titanium grey colour with a silvery accent to parts of the front of the phone, it is quite lightweight and fits nicely into my delicate hands, long enough to comfortably reach from ear to mouth it is not bulky or cumbersome. The belt clip on the back of each hand set allows you to clip the phone to you ensuring you hear your calls even if out in the garden away from the main unit. The buttons/keys are made of 2 different materials, the option keys are made of solid silvery plastic while the number keys are more rubbery and spongey.
Setting up the phone is really simple, the mains cable and telephone line cord plug into the back of the main phone unit and then into the power sources, once the handset is in the docking station it starts to charge. The secondary handset only needs the power cable plugged into it, this will also charge the handset when plugged in. In the back of both handsets are 2 AAA sized rechargeable batteries, these take 16 hours to fully charge but can be used before this time.
The phone has many features including-
-Inbuilt digital answering machine with up to 15 minutes recording time (will store both
old and new messages)
-Number directory for up to 30 names and numbers (names will show on LCD display
-Back lit LCD display and clock (within handset)
-Range of 300m from main unit
-Caller display when signed up to BT Privacy At Home service
-Speaker phone (easily accessed by simply pressing the frosted button with the speaker
-Key lock (to stop those pesky little hands from making unwanted calls)
-Hand set locate
-6 ring tones
-Calls list (holds details of up to 10 missed calls)
-3 way conversation
All the features are explained fully within the user guide
Navigation through the menu is simple with each relevant button clearly marked. menu takes you through the menu options and allows you to select which one you want while clear takes you back to the previous screen, the up and down arrow keys allow you to scroll through the different options available. Retrieving answer messages, adding names and numbers, checking missed calls etc etc everything is done via this menu.
The telephone itself is quite comfortable to use, although I have better hearing in one ear than the other so tend to use one side to listen to calls all the time, this will occasionally cause a little discomfort to the ear in the case of long conversations (usually with hubby or mum!) The number keys are well spaced and of a decent size meaning you wont press the wrong keys when dialing a number but the menu keys are all bunched together meaning it is easy to press the wrong one. Dialing out is easy as the dial button is the largest, you can choose your number before pressing the dial button (pictured with a green phone receiver) or by typing in the number after its been pressed, unlike with mobile phones ringing off of a call is done via the same button (unless they hang up first)
The batteries seem to have a good life span when away from the charger units, when I was packing up my house to move I had boxed up the smaller unit but not its handset, it lasted a week before the batteries ran down. The company do advise though that occasionally the batteries are allowed to drain completely, apparently this will increase their overall longevity. A helpful little feature of the phones is that they will beep when put back in their units properly, this allows you to know they are charging properly, if the phone doesnt beep its not in properly and needs to be put back in otherwise it will start to drain. I always use the phone when on the move around the house or in the back garden and have never had problems hearing the other person or with interference, in the act of being on the move and on the phone (as many of us busy parents are) Ive discovered the phone is very durable and bounces well after it had a tumble down the stairs, of course this isnt something Id recommend doing regularly!
The phones look good, modern but not in a sci-fi futuristic way and because theyre quite compact dont take up too much space. The cable provided is of a good length both in the power cable and the telephone line cable, allowing the phone to be a reasonable distance from the mains. The phones are really clear both in how they ring and what you hear from the person on the other end, youll only get a volume problem if theres a fault on their end. The aerial is integrated so theres no worry of catching it or it getting snapped.
3 way calling is a handy little feature and of course caller display is invaluable, it allows me to screen my calls so if I see a number I dont recognize or appears to be a call centre I can simply ignore it, this also helps if theres someone youre trying to avoid talking to but so far Ive not needed the feature for that reason. I think that the phone can store the details of up to 10 missed calls is brilliant, many people (like me) dont like leaving answer phone messages and often wont, with this feature you can see 10 missed calls rather than just find out the who the last missed caller was, meaning youre likely to see everyone whos tried to get hold of you while you were out (unless of course youre really popular and get 100 calls a day)
Overall Id say this is a great little set of phones, they look good and are easy to use, they have many handy features and are fairly priced. If youre looking for a new set of phones I would certainly recommend these. Ive had mine now for 6 months and have had no problems.
The phones are also available in single, triple and quad packs, each varying in price. The duo set is approximately £49.99 and is available direct from BT, from their site www.shop.bt.com and from most electronics stores.