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We bought the Gigaset (Siemens) A420 single handset and answering machine after struggling with a Tesco Value model which had very poor quality sound. We chose a Gigaset model purposely, as they generally have good reviews especially for sound, and the brand is German which usually equals quality.
On first inspection, I wasn't disappointed. The phone has a good weight to it (without being too heavy) and feels good in the hand. It's around 6in x 2in x 1in (very approx.) which feels just right - I can't bear phones that are so tiny you can't navigate them, but equally hate "brick-like" phones.
The design is very stylish, with a matte black body with glossy trim and very large screen. The screen is very easy to read, and has a white backlit display which is far easier on the eyes than the frequently used garish orange or blue displays. It has a neatly concealed speaker on the back, which looks a bit like a large round button, with the words 'Gigaset A420' above. It's also extremely durable - as demonstrated by my clumsy husband, by dropping it on to a hard floor which resulted in it breaking apart spectacularly! However, every single piece was intact and unharmed - it just required reassembling after which it worked perfectly (I was amazed!). I wouldn't recommend dropping it onto a hard floor purposefully though!
The charging dock is made to the same quality standard as the handset, and has an answering machine built in. Now I will be honest and say I don't have much experience of the answer machine functions, as we have Virgin Media and an answer machine service which we access via our handset - however it all looks very straightforward to operate with the obvious buttons to play, stop and skip through messages. There is also a paging button, which is brilliant if you lose your handset, which everyone does from time to time - down the back of the sofa, or in another room somewhere! You can press the page button and the telephone bleeps loudly to enable you to locate it. My previous telephone didn't have this function and I was always searching for it - I would definitely say it's something I wouldn't want to be without in the future.
The phone has a 20 hour talktime and standby of up to 240 hours, which is incredible! I have had this phone for several months now, and can't remember the battery ever beeping at me to charge - and it's been out of it's dock more than it's been in it.
It has space to store 100 contacts, which again I find incredible! I can't say I know more than 100 people who's numbers I would want to save, so I would say there is plenty of space for even the most popular people out there.
The menu consists of the Alarm Clock, Audio Settings (for melody selection and volume, base and handset volume), Answer Machine, and Settings (for date/time, base and handset - language, contrast, auto answer and various other options I'll probably never use!).
There are 20 melodies/ringtones to choose from - the first 3 being more traditional rings, and the others are more "tuneful". I personally prefer a traditional ring, so opt for the first one as being the most "normal" sounding!
The sound quality of this phone is exceptionally clear. It uses HSP sound quality, which I don't know anything about, other than IT WORKS! I never experience any muffling or crackling on the line like I did previously.
The final thing to mention is that it's an ECO DECT handset, which consumes less electricity, variably reducing the transmitting power from the handset to base station depending on their distance apart. By selecting the ECO Mode it also reduces the transmitting power of the base by 80%, and the radiation-free ECO Mode Plus turns off the transmitting power when the phone is in standby. This is absolutely fantastic for those of us (which should really be all of us) who care about the environment and saving energy and money!
In conclusion, I would say this is a very stylish phone with every single function you could possibly want or need - with the BONUS that it's environmentally friendly. Plus you can expand it with up to 4 handsets for bigger households or businesses. Perfect!
A few months ago our housephone started the ultimate call-screening - by not ringing when it was supposed to, regardless of whether it was a PPI claims insurance company or a relative on the line. The point of a phone that doesn't ring is about the same as the sound of one hand clapping, so we got another one.
Admittedly, I did ask myself: in this day and age, is it really necessary to have a landline telephone? Especially when it seems like everyone, from your granny to your newborn, has an iPhone 5. However, there are a few good reasons to get one, still. First of all, emergency services can triangulate where you are from a landline, if you are not in a state to give your address (if your cat managed to call them in time of course); secondly, if you don't have a landline, you can't connect to the Internet (not even dial-up works). Finally, mobile phones do get lost, or the battery goes, or an accident happens, and to be unable to make contact with someone is a bit inconceivable in today's world, even if it is only for the time it takes to buy a new mobile.
So why the Siemens Gigaset A420? The Gigaset A420 is split into two phones that come in a set, A and B, though you can buy up to 2 other phones in a set. The only real difference is that the A model's base is smaller, because B integrates an answering machine; otherwise they are identical.
When we bought this set, we received a white box with a picture of the phone on it, and inside two phones with bases and wires. Presumably one is for downstairs and one upstairs, but you have my permission to go wild here, install one in your kitchen and one in the downstairs loo, I doubt anyone will try to stop you.
The design of the phone is a matte black plastic body and base, with a pale blue/grey screen. The phone is about 6 inches long / 3 inches wide / 2 inches thick, which gives it a sturdy grip, but people with arthritis (for example) may find it difficult to grasp a hold of for long periods of time. The untextured plastic seems like it could quickly get slick if your hands happen to be wet or perspiring. On the back is the name of the model (A420) and a strange circular indentation, a bit like a button - no one I asked knew what it was for, maybe it is just a subtle design flare? Overall the design is not mind-blowing, but it is quite modern and as such blends into our decor well enough.
Firstly, during the installation you have to leave the phones to charge down (out of the cradle) for 24 hours - during this time they can still be used. Apparently this procedure improves battery life.
The most prominent feature of the A420 is the large illuminated 1.8 inch display. This is especially useful in my house, where my "-25/100" eyesight (according to my optometrist) is only rivaled by the poor eyesight of my ageing parents. The display has high contrast, which means it can be read more easily, but the back-light is a bit bright for me. Once removed from the cradle the illumination dims somewhat - sort of like when you unplug a laptop - presumably for energy-saving reasons, but I find this easier to read anyway. It displays the time, the battery bars of the phone, menu and if you have picked it up, presumably you are getting a call, in which case it displays the number of the person calling and their name if you have it in your contact list.
The buttons are white on grey 0-9 with # and * symbols, which is nothing unusual. The buttons are neither too big or too small to press, hopefully decreasing risk of mis-dials.
The contact list / phone book is holds 100 names and numbers and is accessible through the menu (right click). This is literally so much space that it may well be tempting to add random numbers, such as the one to your local pizzeria or Chinese restaurant. After all, it's good to be prepared for an emergency.
According to the manufacturer's website, the A420 has "HSPTM sound quality", which I can't truthfully say I understand (and nor can I even after a Google) - but the overall sound quality doesn't sound like the wires are packed with wool, which is a plus for us. It does depend on who is on the other end, though - conversations on mobiles tend to sound a bit staticky anyway in my experience.
If you have a missed call, the A420 has a memory of the last 10 numbers who called your number, which means it is quick and easy to redial someone.
Like most phones, mobile or landline, the A420 also has a range of ringtones to choose from, but I find these mostly just a novelty. I was surprised how quiet the ring was compared to our previous phone. For example, I sleep with earplugs in, and the previous phone would wake me up when it rang - whereas the A420 does not. I also can't hear the phone when I am in the shower or several rooms away, or with music playing, et cetera et cetera.
The A420 has around 20 hours of battery life - which is a long conversation! It can also be left off the cradle for 24 hours without discharging fully. The answering machine is also a useful store for messages of up to 25 minutes, though it seems a little archaic compared to voice-mail and I wouldn't have bought the answering machine separately to be honest. The "B" base has buttons relevant to the answering machine functions - new message, play, skip and delete.
The last feature of this phone is one I have not experimented with personally. The ECO DECT (or economy detect) function in an energy-saving feature which means, when the handset is idle and off the cradle, it reduces transmitting power to the base and uses less of the battery power. On the box this is called "radiation-free mode" which is a bit of a misnomer, as a little footnote informs you that it only has less radiation than other bases in the Gigaset range - but this is also an interesting comparison to mobile phone usage, which has some risk of radiation exposure in the electromagnetic range (IARC classified mobile phones as "possibly carcinogenic"). As a feature, this is potentially useful, but not terribly pertinent for us as our phone sits on its base when not engaged in a telephone call.
For an everyday home phone, the A420 does what we want it to. We paid £30 from Sainsbury's, half the RRP of £50 - £70. At this price, the Gigaset A420 is a worthy investment.
Thanks for reading. :)
"With radiation-free ECO Mode Plus and an answering machine with up to 25 minutes of recording time the Gigaset A420A is a great choice for the home. A phonebook for up to 100 names and numbers puts you in touch in seconds. The high contrast 1.8"" display makes navigating the handset's menu easily even in poor lighting. Feeling solid in the hand the high-quality keys are easy to use and are part of an ergonomic design that feels comfortable to hold - so it's great for those really long catch-ups. For wh"