* Prices may differ from that shown
The technology of cordless phones has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and this is certainly the case with the 'Gigaset' range made by Siemens. These sleek handsets look more like mobile phones than the bulky looking and heavy devices which i've become familiar with over the last decade.
At Christmas, I was intent on buying a cordless phone for my parents to replace their ten-year-old brick-like handset which they had previously owned. My criteria was simple; a) it had to be easy to use, and b) it had to have a decent sound quality.
After reading countless cordless phone reviews on the Internet (many of which recommended avoiding the BT make), all fingers pointed to the Siemens Gigaset E455 which consistently achieved high ratings and didn't cost the earth (£79.99 from Amazon).
In the current market, £79.99 may sound a bit pricey, but it's not actually that expensive when compared to some of the models that are available nowadays which can run into hundreds of pounds. For the price, you get one handset, a charging cradle, and a base unit (which plugs into the phone-point).
The phone itself is fairly small and looks great. The colour screen (although not of the highest resolution) is very clear and also very large. Constructed in solid black plastic, the body feels sturdy and looks very classy.
The orange backlit keypad feels good to use, and all the buttons are located in easy to reach positions. Each time you press a key there is a reassuring beep - although if this annoys you, you can turn it off in the settings menu (which I did fairly quickly!).
I was instantly impressed when I found out that the E455 is waterproof (hence my unusual title) OK, perhaps 'waterproof' is a bit of an exaggeration, as 'splash-proof' is the word written on the box - but still, that's great news, especially if you keep your phone in the kitchen where spillage's may be commonplace. As well as being semi protected from the elements, the handset is also shock-proof and should potentially survive small knocks and falls - although that's not really a feature I want to test! If the phone should break unexpectedly, there's always the manufacturers two year guarantee to give you peace of mind.
The phone features a speakerphone setting, so you can talk handsfree should you want to. There is also a headphone jack on the underside of the unit so you can attach a wired headset if you should prefer to do so. The speakerphone is loud and clear on its default setting, although there are five levels of volume to experiment with if you're dissatisfied.
The E455 has a 150 name directory which can be accessed with the touch of a button. Numbers can be added to the directory in a manner similar to how you would add numbers to a mobile phone. It's a system that's really easy to use, and saves you having to manually enter in the numbers of your freinds and family when you want to make a call.
You can also use the phone to send text messages - which I did a fair few time until the novelty of texting from a landline wore off - yes, I am quite sad! As well as texting, this model becomes even more like a mobile with the addition of selectable ringtones. The majority of these are standard plinky-plonky annoying tunes, but there are a selection of normal 'rings' to choose from - which are perhaps a little more desireable.
Now here's the bit which may interest the environmentalists... the Gigaset E455 is an 'ECO' phone, which uses an estimated 60% less power than similar cordless handsets. This means that by purchasing this model, you're not only buying a great product, but also helping reduce your carbon footprint at the same time! It's about time electronics manufacturers started taking responsiblity for the impact that their products have on the planet.
It's pointless to own a feature packed phone if it can't do the basics of making and receiving a call. I've seen a few phone reviews where people forget to mention the sound quality of the earpiece - quite amusing considering that's the crux of a phones useage. Happily, the Gigaset E455 performs very well in the audio department. Initially I found the earpiece volume to be a little quiet - however, I subsequently located the volume control which has three different levels. Speech is very clear and there is no crackle - which the previous phone that we owned was occasionally prone to.
The E455 has an estimated twelve hours in talk time and 160 hours on standby. In fact, this is one of the only electronic devices that I have owned which actually exceeds the manufacturers battery estimation. The phone has ben known to work for eight or nine days without being charged, which is very impressive indeed.
If you want to, you can add an extra five handsets to the E455's base, which is very handy should you want a phone in every room! The good news is, that with all six handsets attached to the base, you only need to use one phone point - probably a good thing considering many households only have a couple.
In conclusion, the Siemens Gigaset E455 is a great cordless phone which offers fantastic value for money. As well as featuring an excellent sound quality and a selection of ringtones, the splash-proof and eco features of the device make this model an essential buy. The range of the phone is listed as being up to 150 metres away from the base station, so you could use this model a fair distance away from your house should you want to - another impressive aspect of this handset. All that's left for me to say is highly recommended - if you buy this, you won't be disappointed.