This is an incremental improvement on previous (very good) Panasonic phones. Some of the new features since our last phone -- colour screen, updated glossy black looks -- are neither here nor there. But the audio quality has been substantially upgraded, the hands-free calling is quite astonishing, and the answering machine is at least as good as voice messaging provided by phone companies. All in all a very worthwhile acquisition if your old phone(s) no longer do the job, for whatever reason. However, possibly not sufficiently better to warrant a simple swap-out replacement, unless you are very, very demanding on audio quality.
This is our fifth cordless phone set. Our others were, in order, Southern Bell, Samsung, Tevion (from Aldi), Panasonic. The Southern Bell one was enormous with a metal antenna, like something you'd see in a '90s movie. The Samsung was dramatically better, and by far the most beautiful phone we've ever had. When we eventually needed to move to a two phone system, it was sadly no more to be purchased. The Tevion phones were bargain basement cost, and good for the money. We moved to the Panasonics because they were, at the time, the only household phones available that could take an external headset -- a must for long conference calls. We've upgraded to this set because i) one of the two handsets came to grief and ii) we now need an answering machine.
In terms of functionality, this one does all the things the old one did, but better.
* Much improved calling quality, now well up to the standard for down-the-line radio interviews (though doesn't compare to ISDN, but, then, it wouldn't)
* Better battery life, and also an Eco function to reduce the base electricity costs by reducing the range of the signal.
* Much better intercom operation -- painful to remember on the old one, on the new one you can use the menus to connect to the other phone and have an in-house call
* Dramatically improved hands-free operation
Additionally (for us), the 40 minutes recording time on the answer phone, plus the beautifully clear message recording, is a good upgrade over our old telecoms provider system which, while it didn't seem to have a limit on the recording time, never seemed to want to record particularly clear spoken voice messages for the caller to hear.
There are also SMS messaging, if you subscribe to Caller-ID, and a 200 address phone-book. The phone-book is a bit disappointing -- you can share from one phone to the other, but you can't import from anywhere else, which means that you are unlikely to ever include more than a few dozen numbers. There are mercifully no additional functions beyond the time, as Panasonic have rightly realised that you will not be cherishing this to your heart like your first-ever mobile, and so will not wish to play games, use a calculator, or any of the other features which are occasionally found cluttering up menus when you don't want them.
For me, the stand out feature is the hands-free operation. The phone is still equipped with a headset jack, which functions well with a Plantronics M175 Mobile Headset
, but, having just come off a conference call lasting more than an hour using just the hands-free, I can honestly say that this is easily as good as the 'spider' style desk units we have for conference calling at work, and substantially better than my desk-phone at work. I really wasn't expecting this, and would not have believed it were possible if I hadn't actually heard it in operation.
My only gripe about this phone is that, despite it's sleek, glossy black looks, it is really quite ugly, reminding me of a mobile phone handset from 1996. The colour display with its gaudy background doesn't do anything for me either. You can at least turn the wallpaper off, and change the colour scheme to something neutral, which I've done.
Nonetheless, this gets my unqualified thumbs-up. After all, it does its main function better than any other model I've tried, which is making crystal clear phonecalls.