~ What you get ~
I have the twin handset which has an answer phone in the main base unit, although this model is available with anything from one to four handsets. I bought this in the January sales, having got progressively more fed up with our previous home phone by Philips which had seen better days.
~ Ease of use ~
The handsets are a joy to use. They feel solid, and fit neatly in my rather small hand. Even after a long conversation, I still find the phone is comfortable to hold. When not in use the LCD screen gives the day, date and time, along with little indicators as to the batteries charge and reception quality. The buttons are nicely spaced out, and with largish writing, meaning I've never found myself pressing the wrong key accidentally.
The LCD screen is nearly 2 inches big which make anything I'm trying to read on them nice and clear. The only drawback is that the screen and keypad, when it's in use, come with an amber back light which looks a bit garish.
The handsets have a total of 20 buttons:
* Speakerphone: If you want a hands free conversation or wish to include others in the room;
* Connect and disconnect button: At the risk of stating the obvious, press these to start and end a conversation;
* The alarm button: Not only sets an alarm call for you but can also alter the date and time on your phone screen;
* Three shortcut buttons at the top give quick access to your phonebook, the caller list and last number called, respectively;
* A larger button in the centre of the keypad toggles up and down through the screen menus, and
* The 10 numbered keys together with the obligatory star key and hash key.
~ Versatility ~
The phone lets you save up to 100 numbers, which sounds wonderful but I doubt we'll ever fill it completely. One bugbear I have when I save numbers is that the character space for the names is far too limited - I've had to become inventive with the friends of ours with longish names just so I can squeeze them in. That said, once a new number has been added to the main phone, copying it over to the second phone we keep upstairs is really simple.
A nice touch with this phone is it's capacity to access any left messages from both the phones as well as the main base unit, which is handy if I happen to be upstairs and don't want to schlep downstairs just to hear a message. Why can't more phones do that?
The settings are far more user friendly than on my previous Philips telephone too. You can choose when you want the answer phone to kick in for you, from between 3 to 7 rings (mine was pre set to 4 which wasn't long enough), and how long a message the caller is allowed to make, choosing between 1 or 3 minutes. You can, if you're feeling anti social or want to confuse callers is to have a greeting only, with the caller unable to leave a message at all.
~ Performance ~
As nice as they, they wouldn't be much good if the actual reception or sound quality were poor. I'm happy to say that Panasonic didn't let the side down here. The sound quality is very good, and a vast improvement on the phone they've replaced.
Another bonus is the battery life. Each handset requires 2 AAA batteries which sounds quite an expensive layout, but in fairness to Panasonic, they claim that this phone delivers up to 17 hours of talk time and 180 hours of standby time per battery charge, which is impressive. I've never had to test this as I always keep the phones on their units when they're not in use but I've no reason to doubt them.
The answerphone has 20 minutes recording time, which is probably the standard, but is more than enough in my house as most messages we get tend to be brief and probably last less than 30 seconds. The clarity of the answer phone when messages have been left is first rate though, and messages don't suffer from any interference.
One negative aspect worth mentioning about the answerphone is when a message does get left the unit doesn't beep, unlike our previous much older phone. I have to make a conscious decision to check the base unit to see if it's play button is flashing. An audible reminder would be more useful to me.
It's possible to access your messages away from home by setting up a Pin code beforehand, although I've never used this facility.
~ Energy Consumption ~
Everything from kettles to washing machines now seem to state how green their credentials are. This phone incorporates what Panasonic call their energy-saving eco ideas technology which they claim will reduce the stand-by power consumption by up to 68%. In order for this to work, you have to press the ECO button.
How I could substantiate the reduction in energy these phones use in my home I'm not sure, and I wouldn't buy anything on that basis alone, but the idea of having longer lasting batteries and fractionally smaller electricity bills is a nice example other manufacturers would do well to copy.
Some useful functions:
* There's a choice of 16 different polyphonic ringtones. Sadly only 2 or 3 are ones I would ever want to use. You can't download a ringtone of your choice.
* One setting some people might find useful is Call Barring, where you can input the telephone number of anyone who you wish to block from phoning you. I've not had to try this yet.
* It claims to have an indoor range of 50m and outdoors of 300m. My house is small and having one phone upstairs and one downstairs means I doubt I've used it further than 20m indoors. Likewise, I've probably ventured no more than 10m outdoors with it so I can't testify as to the whole 300m.
* The handset has an intercom function which could be handy for anyone with small children when they're asleep ~ again not used.
~ Would I recommend it? ~
Yes. It's well designed overall, with sound quality which is excellent. It's only real flaw for me is the answer phone not having an audible reminder whenever a new message has been left.
We bought ours in January for £79.99 from our local Comet store although it may be worth checking the usual internet sites too. It might sound strange, but I would personally only buy a new phone after feeling it in my hand.