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Delving into our stock of Tesco Clubcard vouchers that we had stored away for a rainy day we counted £50 worth of vouchers. We weren't planning on taking advantage of any 4 x face value offers like RAC cover or day trips to Lego Land so we opted to use them at Tesco on something we desperately needed; a new set of house phones.
At the time we purchased this twin handset pack it cost around £99 pretty much everywhere (only a few quid cheaper online) which was more than we were willing to pay for a decent house phone. We had searched through reams and reams of reviews for something that looked stylish but was also reliable and the Philips ID 937 seemed to fit the bill. With our £50 off we would only pay £49 which seemed a bargain so we went for it.
We were glad that this new model had contained Rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride for its set of AA batteries so we didn't have to worry about replacing them. We had a problem with the batteries leaking on our old set rendering them useless so we wanted to be careful about putting the right batteries into the phones.
We simply couldn't wait to get this new model home and start playing with it.
Out Of The Box
After tearing open the box we instantly revealed the user guide, quick start guide and warranty card which we threw to one side (who needs manuals I thought?). Next came the 2 bases, splitter and power cables for the phones which act as charging units once they are plugged into an electrical socket. The larger one is the master unit which will need to be plugged into your telephone line and the smaller one is the additional handset which can be placed anywhere else in your home. The supplied black telephone cable can then be connected to the base and the wall socket to make a connection to your phones. 2 x AA rechargeable batteries were included which we put to one side. This is always nice to see as a lot of products make you buy them separately which is a cheek if you've just forked out a lot of money for the product.
Last out of the box were the handset units themselves which could be described as shiny black tubes of gel with flat round bases which allow for free standing. Peeling off the protective covers once out of their protective cloth, the phones were almost ready to be configured. It is at this point that you should leave the phones on charge for 24 hours, although we didn't bother doing this until we configured it. The charge indication is shown as a green battery containing bars in the top left corner of the phone. The bars will scroll across the battery indicator as it is charging so you know it is doing it correctly (not to mention the ding dong noise it makes when the handset is replaced).
Glancing at that user manual we discarded earlier we realised the first thing we had to do was install the batteries which were done by unscrewing the screw on the bottom of each handset and slotting the batteries in their place before sealing the bases back up again. We did this with a coin so no screwdriver needed!
Once the units came on we had to configure it for our country and set the time and date which only took a few seconds.
All the phone options were accessed using a Nokia style menu system which was pretty straight forward to navigate and self explanatory.
We were then eager to enter names for the phones using the keypad on the handsets. We weren't going to call them Bill & Ben or Sooty & Sweep, we had more meaning full names to give them, albeit boring; 'Living Room' & 'Bedroom' (this was more of personalised setting than a necessity). If you do have multiple handsets in this case then they have to be registered from the base station which is described in the user guide.
Apart from configuring your own personal settings in relation to background picture, themes, ring tones and volume settings etc you can now get on with setting up an answer phone message. There is an answer phone section that is accessed via the phone's menu which will give you various options on whether to set to Answer Only (no message will be recorded for the caller), Answer & Record (message will be relayed and recorded) or VIP Mode. The later is used if you have subscribed to Caller Line Identification where you can set a personalised ring tone for specific callers like you can do as standard on a mobile phone these days. Recordings for the answer phone can also be predefined if you don't wish to have your voice recorded.
This phone is so packed full of handy features that it will take you hours to test them all out, so I've included most of the better ones to discuss.
One of the best things about this phone was the ability for us to insert a SIM card from our mobile and transfer all our contact numbers to the phone. This is done by removing a cover from the main base and inserting the SIM into its designated slot. You can then access a menu on the phone to begin transferring which only took a few minutes to complete. This process will add the contacts to the phonebook on both phones but if you need to add individual contacts later on then they will need to be added manually to each phone or you will have different contacts on each handset.
Loudspeaker is a must have for a house phone these days which can easily be activated using the loudspeaker button in the bottom left of the keypad. The quality of the loudspeaker is pretty good and you don't have to be very close to the phone for the caller to hear you (unless you speak quietly of course).
A feature I like about the phone is the time display which acts as a screen saver which you can clearly see in the dark. This is a standard clock (not a digital 24 hour clock) which will appear within a minute of replacing the handset.
Intercom will allow you to make internal calls from one handset to the other using the 'conf' key on the keypad. This is very useful in saving yourself from shouting upstairs to other members of the family or making a conference call. You can also use this feature to transfer incoming calls to the other handset but I usually screw this part up and cut the caller off! Maybe I should have read that manual after all?
Caller display is available if you subscribe to this from your service provider. This is great for identifying the caller and deciding whether or not to answer the call. Like your mobile, if someone calls from your contacts list then their name will be displayed with their number. If the caller is not in your list then you only see the number listed but if it is a call from outside your local area then you will usually see the words 'External Call' displayed on the handset.
If you have setup your contacts into organised groups then you can make good use of this with the Do Not Disturb feature. This will ensure that the phone will only ring if calls are made from a designated group of contacts otherwise it will simply show a caller on the display and light up or go to the answering machine.
If you have a baby sleeping in your home it is sometimes a nuisance when the phone rings and the baby wakes up (especially if the baby isn't well or over-tired). These handsets have the option to turn the silent mode on so that it will not ring but it will still light up and show the caller display. Silent mode can be activated for one unit or both, although setting to just the one unit will allow you to faintly hear the other handset ringing (upstairs in my case) so you can answer it in the room where it is muted.
Sticking to the subject of babies the phone has a babysit mode that will allow you to use them as a baby monitor. Of course you need to have 2 or more handsets to perform this function but it is a really cost effective way of combing your house phone with a monitoring feature which would otherwise have incurred additional costs. It works by placing one of the handsets in the baby's room and setting a sound level threshold so that once this is triggered it will call the number of other handsets you have set. This can allow you to hear the baby and speak down the line if necessary. Both myself and my partner tried setting this up but we had mixed results with it and did not find it beneficial so we ended up buying a video monitor instead. It is worth mentioning that this mode does not stop you using the phone as normal so you can still make and receive calls although these can be interrupted (like call waiting) when the sound level is activated so it can be annoying.
Other Useful Stuff
The freestanding unit is unique design for this handset so you can place the phone upright on any flat surface (such as a coffee table). This will prevent the unit from getting knocked over and damaged as most of us have probably left standard handsets on the arm of sofas where they can easily fall or be knocked over.
The Auto-answer feature will allow you to answer a call as you lift the handset from the charging base. We chose not to enable this function as we often have the phone off the base and only leave it charging over night.
Call baring can be used to block outgoing calls to specific prefixes particularly mobile phones. Very useful if you have older children in the house and want to make sure they are not making sly calls to their friends on premium numbers. By using a master PIN you can over-ride the block any time you wish.
If you wish to have the phone wake you up as an alarm in the morning then you can easily enable this feature and select the time at which the phone will emit one of three melodies and start flashing.
The call log display is great for looking through previous caller numbers and redialling called numbers. Both of these can be added to your phonebook from within the call log menu.
Games on a house phone I hear you question? You did hear me correctly, no need to proof check this again! Although these are not necessary, they are a warm addition to the handsets if you are ever bored enough to warrant playing.
There are 3 types of games available; the Memory game is basically 'Pairs' where you turn over cards and have to match pairs in the shortest possible sequence to gain more points. The Puzzle game involves moving pieces of a jumbled picture around to put them in order to make a complete picture with more points awarded for the quickest sequence. The Tetris game is just like the original version on the Nintendo GameBoy where you control and rotate falling shapes so that they fit neatly into horizontal blocks. Points are awarded for blocks that make complete horizontal lines across the screen where they disappear which provide level ups and subsequently faster falling shapes. The memory and puzzle games are pretty boring and would probably only require an attention span of 2 seconds, whereas the Tetris game is quite good and really addictive and could have you playing for hours. All games are in full colour and are controlled using a small selection of keys on the number pad.
Both my partner and I had great fun setting this up and found it very easy and straight forward to navigate through all the menus. We particularly had fun testing all the ring melodies which contained a good selection and were decent quality (especially when set to HD mode).
The reception on this product which spans to around 50 metres has been great around the house and usually has full bars no matter which room you are in. With outdoor coverage it hasn't been a problem taking the phone outside the house in the garden and maintaining a good quality line.
Durability is a key factor when you spend £100 on a house phone and we've had no complaints with these so far and they've been great for the past 2 years. We have accidentally dropped the handsets onto hard laminate floor occasionally without it affecting the use of the product. With the battery compartment locked away on the underside of the phone we haven't been left picking up the batteries off the floor once it's been dropped. Cheaper products may well have disintegrated or gone to phone heaven!
There was only a couple of gripes we had with the phone with the first being the lack of an emitting tone or beep from the phone once someone has left an answer phone message. You only know if someone has left a message if you pick up the handset and check for the answering machine icon in the top right of the screen (with the number of messages listed numerically next to it). This is fine but I'm not one for checking the phone every time I come home so I often miss messages if I forget to check the phone. A regular beep would have improved this as you would instantly know that someone has left you a message.
The only other minor problem happens occasionally if you've let the battery run down too low. If the unit is almost out of battery life the battery icon will flash but even if the battery life indicator is not flashing but just very low then sometimes you cannot make a call on the handset until you dock it on the base for several minutes. I've said this is minor as we normally replace the handsets to the base every evening so this is hardly a problem.
We both love the style of this phone and it certainly wouldn't look out of place in any home and with the features it has to offer it is very good value for money. Baring in mind you have an all in one unit for telephone, clock, alarm and baby monitor you'll soon see why. Highly recommended.
I purchased this phone approximately two months ago primarily as an upgrade to my existing hand sets. Prior to purchase I had no particular brand in mind and was driven primarily by features and price. To date I have been pleasantly surprised with its performance and only come across a couple of minor niggly points.
The phone is a set of two handsets and base units with an integrated answer phone. The larger of the two bases incorporates a digital answer machine and is the connection point to the phone line. Te second of the two bases operates independently of a phone line and can be located any where around the house.
The design of the phone is very sleek and modern. I must admit this was one of the appeals of the phone as the design does compliment very well the new BT Homehub 2.0 that I have. The base units are finished in a high gloss black finish likewise the handsets themselves.
What is very well thought out is the design of the handset. Whilst the high gloss finish does look very elegant, it is a proverbial pain in the rear to keep clean as it shows up finger marks very easily. On this handset however, Philips have used a high gloss finish on the sides but kept the front of the unit (the bit that comes into contact with you) a matt finish dramatically reducing the need for constant cleaning. A nice little touch inside the box is the inclusion of two large spectacle type cleaning cloths to keep your phone looking its optimum.
One of the main features of the phone is the incorporation of an answering machine. Messages are recorded digitally rather than the old tape machines of the past. Up to fifteen minutes of recordings can be stored before needing to delete old messages. Whilst this may not sound a lot, the average message left consists of a very brief "Call me back on ......" which usually consists of a 15 - 30 second message. Playback of messages is very simple via the menu facility of either handset and can even be accessed whilst away from home by dialling your home phone and entering a unique PIN.
The main reason for buying this phone was the ability to send and receive SMS text messages. Although not widely advertised, anyone with BT Option 3, actually has 200 free text messages per month included in their package. Consequently I was of the opinion "if they're included, I might as well use them". Text messaging is very straight forward and is done in exactly the same way you would expect on a mobile phone. The only slight irritation with text input is switching from upper to lower case. On most mobile phones, this is done by pressing either the star, hash or similar key. However to do this on the Philips phone involves holding down a dedicated key for at least two seconds which can seem irritatingly time consuming. Entering numbers into a text can also be a little annoying also as you have to press the relevant key several times (e.g to get the number "2", you would have to press the key 4 times) on a mobile phone numbers can usually be substituted by holding down keys. A useful feature with the SMS function on the phone is the ability to have up to nine different mailboxes, ideal if there are several different family members using the facility.
The main base unit has a slide out panel which allows you to insert the sim card from your mobile phone and transfer all your phone book records either to or from your Philips handset. Whilst this facility is very very useful in terms of saving time inputting names and numbers, I did find quite a big flaw. On my Sony Ericsson mobile, I have different numbers stored under one name such as mobile, land line and fax etc. When transferring numbers from the sim card, only the first number rather than multiple entries under each name is transferred. Consequently, although sim transfer does save a lot of time by doing the bulk of the work, I still found myself carrying out several manual entries. Once all your names and numbers are stored, a useful feature is the ability to transfer either individual entries or a complete phone book from one handset to another, thereby providing very simple synchronisation between the two.
The LED display on the handsets is full colour providing a very clear and bright image. There are a number of different wallpaper designs built into the handset for personal preference. However unlike a mobile phone, you get what you get, it is not possible to download personal pictures to the phone. Whilst standing on the base unit, a screen saver kicks in after so many seconds and displays a low light analogue clock, very useful if you have a handset in a bedroom. When receiving calls, the phone is equipped with a caller ID feature. Basically this allows you to see who is calling you before answering. It should be noted however that this facility is dependant upon your service provider and is sometimes a chargeable optional extra provided by the phone company.
There are a variety of different ring tones built into the handset which can be selected according to choice. However like wise with the display settings, they can not be added to via downloads etc.
Philips have used what they call Xhd for sound reproduction on their handsets. I presume this is just some fancy name that has been dreamt up of in the marketing department. In the real world I have to say that the sound quality is nothing short of exceptional! Compared to my old phone (which I had thought was good) the quality of sound during a call is superb and crystal clear. As with most cordless phones there is the facility to use hands free which can be useful when you need to make notes etc. during a call. On my old phone, I frequently ended up picking the handset back up as the person as the on other end had difficulty hearing me and visa-versa. Philips is the first phone I have come across where hands free is a reality rather than just another feature. Likewise with standard calling, the sound quality when using hands free is nothing short of excellent. As with most twin or multiple pack phones, there is a paging facility between handsets. This can be useful or not, depending on weather you actually want the other half to be able to reach you whilst you're down the bottom of the garden. A useful feature for any one with small children is the ability to use one of the handsets as a baby monitor.
In an attempt to emulate a mobile phone, there are three games built into the handset. Nothing particularly exciting, although I did give in to temptation and have a game of Tetris (obvious sign of boredom). As with display and ring tones it is not possible to add to these.
Battery life I have found to be quite good. I have in the past left the handset off the charger for several days and still been able to make or receive a call without any problems.
If you have small inquisitive children or even older ones who like to run the phone bill up, there is an option to disable the handsets via a key-lock. Additionally, calling can be disabled requiring the user to enter a PIN before the phone can be used.
I am pleased to say that for all the positives, I have yet to find just two negative points.
The first one as mentioned above is the design flaw in copying address books from a sim card. However as this is not a daily function, it more of a minor irritation rather than a major problem.
The second is the missed call feature. On the top of each handset, there is a red flashing light that alerts you instantly to any missed calls. I have to admit the feature is a good idea as it alerts you without the need to check the handset every time you get back home. However when you clear this alert, it only clears it from the one handset. It can be a little confusing or annoying when you approach the second handset to find that it is still flashing away to show the same missed call. What would have been ideal would have been to clear missed call alerts from both handsets simultaneously. In contrast, each handset has to be cleared independently. I would imagine this to be a real annoyance if purchasing the triple or quad pack version of this phone.
As with most things it really does pay to shop around. The price of these phones varies tremendously with high street prices ranging from £70 - 100. Personally I got mine new from the infamous ebay for a little over £45. The phones are GAP compatible, meaning in theory they can be linked with any other brand of GAP compatible phone. However, if you wanted to add the same brand and model of phone they tend to retail around the £40 mark for additional handset / charger units.
Further information and support
Interestingly, despite being sold in the UK by most high street names including Argos, Comet etc. they do not feature on Philips UK web site. They do however feature on their global website. Should you ever loose and require instruction manuals, these are available to download direct from the Philips website. Additionally Philips provide an on-line trouble shooting guide should you experience any difficulties setting up your phone.
If asked would I recommend these phones it would be a resounding yes! They do excel in both looks and quality of performance. Admittedly there are a couple of points that could have been a little better thought out in the design, but then again I don't believe the 100% perfect consumer product has yet to be marketed.