Buyers Guide to Cordless Phones

Cordless phones are land line phones that can be carried anywhere around the house and garden. They work within range of the stand that connects them to the phone socket. Long gone are the days when people had to hold their conversations on a corded phone next to the phone socket, within earshot of others.

Cordless phones allow the user to make or take a call anywhere in their house of garden. Cordless phones start at a low price of around £10 for a single phone. Cordless phones have to be charged on a stand, and so buying a set of 2 or more cordless phones means that you can have a spare charging, whilst you are using the other.

One of the phone stands will need to connect to the phone socket, and the mains, but the other one(s) can be plugged into another mains electricity socket, anywhere in the home.

Cordless phones work on radio waves, so that the phone connects to the base. It is a good idea to avoid having two different makes of cordless phone near to each other as they tend to cause a noise of interference that is painful to the ear. Some of the things to consider when buying cordless phones are:

Single or multiple set cordless phones

It normally costs less to buy a single cordless phone than a multiple set. However the cost of having a ‘twin’ or double phone set is usually less than buying two.  Typically it may be the cost of buying one and a half. The problem with only having one cordless phone is that if you have a member of your household who leaves it somewhere, and its battery runs out, then it is hard to find the phone.  As long as the phone has some charge in it, you can use a find or locator button, which calls the missing handset which will ring, helping you to locate the phone. Having more than one cordless phone, cuts down the risk of having no workable phone.  In some cases it would be advisable to have a corded phone in addition to cordless phones. This is especially advisable for vulnerable people who need to be able to contact others, or who need to be contactable by others.

Multiple sets may include from two to six telephones each with its own charging stand and one which will be connected to the telephone point in the house. Leaving one phone still connected to a call renders the rest unusable and so it is vital to remember to check that the call is ended. Again if you cannot find which cordless phone is the problem then connecting the base will disconnect the cordless network and allow a corded phone to work.

 

How long can you speak on the phone before it runs out of charge?

Cordless phones come with rechargeable batteries which are charged on the stand that they come with. The batteries on the cordless phones need recharging more often the longer you have them. When they are obviously not holding their charge they can be replaced, they are usually normal rechargeable batteries. The time that the manufacturers say you can speak on the phone without the battery losing its charge varies from 7 to 20 hours with most being around 10 hours.

It is hard to see why anyone would need to be on the phone for more than 7 hours at a time. Most say they need 7 hours to recharge up to capacity. If the phone is going to be in constant use this may be a consideration.  Having more than one phone may be the solution to this problem. The amount of hours you can use the phone for without it running out of charge is called the talk time hours.

 

How long can you leave the phone off the stand before its battery power drains away?

The length the phone can be left off the stand is known as the standby time. Manufacturers say that their standby times range from around 100 to 200 hours.   Again, this reduces as the batteries get older.

Do you need an answering machine included in the cordless phone system?

If you prefer to use your service provider’s answering service then you might not need to use an external answering machine. If you already have an answering machine you can plug your cordless phone stand into it. If you need an answering machine then many cordless phones come with one.

The amount of recording time varies from 30 to 60 minutes, so if your existing answering machine has more than this it could be better to stick with that. Alternatively you can have both but just keep the cordless phone’s answering machine switched off. Many of the phones answering machines can be accessed whilst away from home.

 

What is the range of the telephone?

Most manufacturers state the range of their cordless telephones to be up to 50m inside the house, and 300 metres outside. Specialist long range phones that can range up to 1km are much more expensive than the standard cordless phones.

 

Do you want to be able to see who is calling you, screen your calls and or block nuisance calls?

Most phones will have a screen where you can see the number of the phone that is calling you. If you have saved your numbers into the phone book then the person who is calling you can be seen. Caller id, as this is called allows you to see who is calling before you answer the call and decide whether to screen. Some phones will have a talking caller id. A lot of cordless phones now have a ‘block nuisance calls’ feature which may be knowns as ‘caller barred’. In some cases you need to store a number under caller barred to register the caller as a nuisance. In other cases, phone technology, together with the telephone provider, blocks unsolicited calls or asks the caller for a name, before announcing this to the phone user. It is worth checking with your telephone provider what they can do for you if you are having a lot of nuisance calls. They telephone preference service should be able to help you stop having some unsolicited calls.

 

Do you have any problems with your sight or hearing?

There are specialist providers of cordless phones for people with special sight or hearing needs. Action on hearing loss has advice on its website, which recommends features, such as extra amplification for those who have trouble hearing the phone ring. Some have a clip-on option which allows the phones vibration to alert the user to an incoming call. It is possible to tailor different cordless phones in the same household to different hearing abilities. Some hearing aids react with cordless phones, there are models available that overcome this problem. Accessories are available such as a flashing light to alert a user to an incoming call. Although some cordless phones can be used to text, this is not the same as a textphone which is another category of phone. Cordless phones can be bought with headphones to help drown out unwanted noise. Plug- in inductive loops or ear-hooks can be used with some cordless phones. Some people may prefer to use their cordless phone on the speaker mode, which means that everyone in the room can hear the conversation, but amplifies the sound.

For special sight needs, large display button phones are available from many stockists. These may also be useful for people with problems of manual dexterity. Specialist phones are available from the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind). Cordless phones are available that have a recorded voice that say the number you are calling, they can also speak the phone book options and entries. Phone numbers can be spoken into the phone and recorded. One model has a feature that identifies the caller and a voice recording associated with the incoming call will be heard three times, followed by the ringer as standard.

 

Additional features

Call divert – Features such as call divert, which allow you to forward your calls to another phone, will need to be set up with the telephone service provider.

Baby monitor – Some telephones have an inbuilt baby monitor, as both baby monitors and cordless phones work on radio waves.

Alarm clock – Some alarm clocks are included in the phone. They have highly programmable features such as a different alarm time for different days of the week.

Phone book – Some phones have up storage for up to 500 numbers, some have far fewer.

Most cordless phones will come with features such as a phone book, last number redial and tell you who the last few numbers were that called, usually by scrolling back the last caller feature. There will be a choice of ringtones, up to 10 being the norm. Some cordless phones will tell you when you have a lower battery and others when your phone is out of range. These features will be listed under the specifications. Being able to put the phone on speaker phone is standard. Other  have handsfree features such as using a Bluetooth headset and even a clip for the phone are available.

 

Many features on a cordless phone need to be set up, and being able to follow instructions is a must. Using the basic features does not take too much technological knowhow. Quick start user guides usually allow the basic phone features to be set up.  Many large supermarkets sell a range of cordless phones, as to many retailers, with a wide choice being available online.