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Like most families these days, as well as having mobile phones, we really need a reliable landline phone system to keep in touch. We have owned this particular Siemens phone cordless system for a while now, it includes an answer phone and 3 handsets, though you can buy it with just one or two handsets depending on your needs. Actually we bought this item because we thought that our previous phone set, a Panasonic version, had started malfunctioning, it took us a while to realise that the fault lay with our provider, but suffice to say once the fault was fixed it was the Siemens system that we kept on using whilst our other phones went to ebay heaven, as these really are very good phones.
Setting up the phones when we got them was simple - out of the box you do have to charge them for about 10 hours, there is a quick start guide as well as a manual that I, personally, found very easy to follow. The phones can be wall mounted or otherwise placed on any convenient surface near to a power point whilst the base station needs access to a phone jack. The phones are digital phones, in essence cordless and working off one base station - they have a range of 300m, though less if in Eco mode (a setting to save power consumption). In my usage of the phones in a 5 bedroom house I've found the range to be more than adequate, and the line to be crystal clear. Once charged the battery life, billed by the manufacturer as 12 hours, is in my experience more than plenty for domestic use.
One thing I like about these phones, once set up and something that is noticeably better than my previous panasonic phones, is that the power plug is very compact and the the power plugs themselves fit neatly into the phone. The batteries are a little tricky to fit (something you need to do when you get your phone out of the box), but overall set up is minimal and quite straightforward, even including registering the handsets to the base and setting up all the options.
Aesthetically these phones look very good I think - they are quite a glossy black and the screens (3.5 by about 3.8cm high by my measurements) are quite large for the size of the phone. The handsets sit comfortably in your hand and not too heavy, the phone is similar in size to a mobile (H14.6 x W4.9 x D2.8cm), and though the buttons might seem fairly small to some, in actual fact because they are well made and you can feel that you are pushing them, (they depress slightly) they are easy to use.
The answer machine has up to 45 mins recording time, again a generous amount. Where this phone excels is in the ease of use of the answering machine and indeed the handsets themselves. Overall the menus are intuitive to use and you will find that you can soon cover the basics and even attempt some of the more enhanced features, the manual makes everything quite clear and a nokia mobile style pictorial menu on the handset is easy to follow. One criticism I do have of the menu is that one of the features I most use, the directory for names, can only be accessed by pushing the navigator button on the top of the keyboard down, rather than via the main menu. Seeing as the main menu contains sms messages, something that in my experience if you have a mobile you are not likely to use on a landline, this seems a rather strange menu design. I do find that I can access the directory and add names (up to 150) and indeed search it easily, it wasn't intuitive to do so at first. You can search by scrolling through the names or by typing in the first few letters of a name, this works well.
Making calls once you have pressed the ubiquitous green phone button is easy, and what's more you can transfer stored names and numbers between the handsets, and allocate a different ringtone to each handset and, indeed a different volume. This is handy when, eg, placing a set near a child's bedroom or in a quieter area of the house. The choice of ring tones is more than adequate, amongst the 9 polyphonic choices and 7 melodies I have been able to find one that pleases, you can also set the phone to ring with a different ring tone for different people calling.
Apart from features such as the ones I have described there are a range of other options, some of which are useful (caller id and last call list) and some of which in all honesty you probably are not going to use. You have the option of setting a handset to work as a noise monitor, to ring another handset if the noise level increases in the room - presumably in case you want to pop to the neighbour's or down the garden and leave a child. I can't say this is a function I personally would use, but other features such as the hands-free option and the volume control are more useful and easy to access. Other functions in the realms of "why?" are the anniversary reminder - you can get the phone to call you to remind you of a birthday, which seems a bit pointless; though I have to say the mute button came in surprisingly handy during the early days of ownership of this phone when calling endless call centres to try to find out why my line was not working properly (note to call centre worker that noise you couldn't hear was me, primal screaming).
The phone itself has worked perfectly since I got it some six months ago - I like the fact that the display on the base tells you the number of messages and it is also very simple to remove messages either from the buttons on the base itself or via the handset, and a synthesise voice tells you how much time you have left on the answering machine. I haven't accessed the messages remotely, or set a child pin on the phone, but should I wish to these and more features are available on the phone and the 84 page manual explains everything in simple English.
Once I have finished my call, the phone fits neatly into the cradle and makes a tone to tell you it has been replaced. This is a simple thing, but again a big improvement on my previous phones which somehow didn't slide into their dock so easily or sit as snugly. Overall these phones, bar the strange way of accessing the directory I have already mentioned, seem well designed and with the user in mind. Sure some of the features are superfluous in my opinion, but in general most people would be able to plug in one or more of these phones (registering additional handsets to the base is easy) and would be up and running and able to use it for its main functions of calling and using the answer machine, setting it to answer after one or a few rings, and able to make the phone do what you need a phone to do with relative ease.
I like these phones because, essentially, I find now that my line has been fixed, the clarity of the calls is very good, with no hissing or distortion and I also like the fact that they have the eco setting. This does mean that when idle I can't see the illuminated colour screen saver, (choice of pictures available) but though I can't tell you exactly how much energy the phones are saving, not having an illuminated screen for no reason seems a good idea, and I can only trust that I am saving the "60% less energy compared to normal cordless phones" that Siemens tell me I am. I think this phone looks well made and so far I have not had to use the guarantee - as I bought this from John Lewis I have an extended 2 year warranty, I paid £80 for the set at time of purchase, on offer, this set of phones seems to cost around £100 in most places. I suspect over time the glossy finish of the handsets may be prone to scratching but so far mine are still as good as new.
I definitely recommend this siemens gigaset to my panasonic set. For anyone looking for a mid-priced phone for domestic use and wanting the convenience of a cordless phone it is a good choice. The bottom line is this cordless phone and answer phone set works well, looks good and for these reasons I recommend it.