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4.3 out of 5 stars
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These Panasonic KX-TG8564EB wireless domestic phones are presented in the style of a mobile, but being bigger are easier to hold more comfortably, and the display and the buttons are big enough to see and use easily. They are not too heavy, the sound is good, the range is excellent, and you can put in higher capacity AAA cells for even longer talk time.

This set of four was bought to replace our three ageing Binatone Big Buttons, and, apart from the buttons being smaller and more closely grouped than on the Binatones, in all other respects these Panasonics are a great improvement.

. To get started.

Just put in the batteries, drop the handset into the charger cradle, plug it into a mains socket, and after about seven hours it tells us that the phone is fully charged and stops charging. The base station also needs to be plugged into a standard BT style phone socket. While all four were docked and charging, on one I set the time and date, and entered a few useful numbers. All four then had these items.

. The phones.

The Menu Systems are enough like a standard mobile that most of the common features can be found without resorting to the manual. However, to find all the most useful tricks, and there are a surprisingly large number of them, it is essential to study the manual.

Calling Data is stored in the base station, so for example one can enter a new number and its owner into the 250 slot database from one handset, and then all the handsets will have access to it. This also applies to most of the settings that might be shared across the quartet, so convenient. Some individual settings for specific handsets can still be differentiated if needed, such as a personalised phone list of 100 slots per handset. There are also many control options that can be applied to the entries as well.

The Sound Quality on these Panasonic is excellent when using the handset. But the speaker-phone is slightly less good, on a par with the Binatones, and not quite as good as my old PAYG mobile. However I've noticed we are both using the speaker-phone facility a lot, sometimes even while still docked in the charger, so it must be OK in practice!

Range is good, allowing us to use them in the garden or upstairs with most of the house between phone and the base station.

Batteries used are two each of the standard 500mAh NiMH AAA rechargeable cells, typically lasting for a day of talk or well over a week on standby. Only a couple of months earlier I had replaced the cells in one of the Binatones with 1000mAh NiMH AAA Energiser types, so these came out and went into the two new phones we use the most, giving us double the talk time from a charge.

The Charging System is very good indeed; being intelligent it stops charging when the battery is full, yet will rapidly top up again after some use. This is important because it means the batteries are not being stressed by being cooked on overcharge - as the Binatones tended to do. With any luck, and being so well treated, the batteries should last almost as long as the phones.

The colour Display is very good, with big letters and numbers making it very easy to read, and plenty of useful info shown. There are various options for customising it, but so far we have not felt any urgency in changing them from the default settings other than changing the wallpaper to try and help identify the different phones. We needed to search the manual to discover the custom codes to to make each handset display the ID 1,2,3 or 4, and a distinctive name, eg Kitchen.

The Intercom works well, and is easy to set up. We have chosen different ring-tones on each handset to help identify them to make better use of this facility.

The securely mounted belt clip has turned out to be useful, mostly to stop the handset falling out of a pocket while gardening, but also to prevent the speaker on the back from being blocked when the phone is laid down on a surface - quite likely when in speaker-phone mode.

Ring tones. These are definitely not my first choice! When I have some free time I will be investigating to see if it possible to put my own custom sounds into the phones - more on this later if I ever manage it, maybe at the same time as when I attempt to similarly customise the `wallpaper' behind the displays.

One other less good point is that the docking cradles cannot be wall mounted or secured to a surface. They are far too easy to knock off a table or shelf. I think this is daft when considering that all they are is an adaptor to connect to the charger lead.

. Summary

There are a host of extra features in the phones and answer machine base, but fortunately one doesn't need to even think about them to get started with using the system. You might never need them and could just use the handsets as simple basic phones. We've not made any big changes from the defaults.

Over the last few months these have proved to be very nice phones. They made me realise that I should have changed away from the old phones ages ago, it has been well worth the investment. The positive side of using the phones far outweighs the minor niggles of the unimaginative ring tones and silly docking cradles.

. Addendum. 15th October 2012

I've recently been using an old hands-free ear-defender type headset with noise-cancelling mic plugged in to the 2.5mm jack socket in the side of the phone (phone in my pocket) to allow me to answer calls in a noisy environment. This Panasonic version seems to be a reasonable equivalent for the gentle hubbub of an office, but it only covers one ear.

. Addendum 2. 17th February 2013

I bought another four-set for the in-laws for an Xmas present, and they have been delighted with them, using one in the living-room, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. They did not need the fourth handset, so gave it back to me to keep as a communal spare.

When I experimented with installing the 'spare' with my set of four, the system was very happy to accept it as a fifth friend after I had made the necessary changes as shown in the manual. It is actually possible to run six handsets on the single base-station.

And the final bonus was that the cost difference between buying a three-set and a four-set is very little, much less than that of later having to buy a single replacement KX-TGA856EB handset.

. Addendum 3. 22nd February 2014

Having just haggled down a new contract with BT we now have free 'Caller ID', and we have been most impressed by how useful and efficient these phones are with this function.

We have enabled the 'Talking Caller ID', and if the name is in our list of saved numbers all the units announce on their speaker who is calling, otherwise we are given the number calling or told if the number is withheld. The voice used by the system is surprisingly natural and clear, the only caveats being that there is a limited number of letters available in the name-slot and sometimes a more phonetic spelling helps it to sound better.
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VINE VOICEon 30 August 2012
After my previous iDECT phone died a death, I did a little research on the pages of Amazon and elsewhere. The array of choices, even within the products sold by one manufacturer, is often bewildering and unnecessarily complicated, but finally choosing this Panasonic model was a great choice, one I have not regretted for a moment. It was pretty easy to set up, and I am very impressed by the shared phonebook, so you don't have to duplicate your numbers on each handset. The handsets and the base are both robust and attractive, include a very clear colour screen, plenty of ringtones (I've selected a tasteful piece of Chopin) and wallpaper. The functionality, including answering machine, is easy to access, intuitive and well thought through. There are no obvious quirks or eccentricities in how it behaves. Then sound quality is excellent (much appreciated, given my dodgy hearing) and the battery life seems to go on forever, a pleasant contrast to its predecessor. If you are looking for a quality cordless phone with two handsets and answering machine, this model is warmly recommended!
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on 7 January 2013
This trio of Panasonic DECT phones replaced a set from another manufacturer which had expired one by one over time. The Panasonic system is very easy to set up and the phones use standard rechargeable AAA NiMH batteries. The key pads on each phone are large and illuminated and all the units are stylish and well designed. There are forty ring-tones which can be selected so there should be a favourite for everyone. Each phone has a hands free loudspeaker mode and the phone-book memory can contain up to 250 contacts which can be entered on one phone and then easily copied to the other phones which proved very useful.

Each contact can be assigned to different categories and associated ring-tones so you can distinguish between friends, relatives and business calls for example. There is also a baby monitor system included and the ability to record telephone conversations on to the answering machine. I initially found the TFT colour screens were very bright at night but they can be turned off while the units are docked by going to 'Initial Set-up', selecting 'Display Set-up' then choosing 'LCD in charging' to be 'Off'. Highly recommended.
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on 5 July 2012
I only received the phone yesterday, but my first impressions are good. Compared to earlier Panasonic DECT phones, these handsets are surprisingly light and they are very comfortable to hold. The sound quality and the general build quality are also good.

Unlike many phones of this type, if you change something on one handset (such as the date/time), it is changed on all handsets. However, if you make a call from one handset, there is no record of the dialed number on other handsets, which is a bit frustrating if you want to redial but are using a different handset.

I have tried the caller blocking to reduce the PPI calls I have been receiving and the phone successfully blocked its first call today (you can see blocked calls in the caller list). It seems that you can only block 30 numbers, and you cannot block withheld numbers, but I think that the functionality will be sufficient for me.

I have also used the intercom feature, which allows you to talk to someone on another handset, and that seems to work fine too.

Still early days, and there are a lot of features that I haven't used yet, but I am happy so far.

UPDATE: It is now September 6th and I have had the phone for a couple of months. I am still pleased with the phone although I have realised that the call blocking function is actually severely hampered by the fact that you can only block 30 numbers.

I managed to fill the block list up within a month, just with the PPI call numbers, so I now regularly get calls that I can't block.

The blocking functionality works well, but the 30 number limit means that the implementation is quite severely flawed.

Still a good phone, but the call blocking feature was key for me, and now it is useless, so I am reducing my original 5 star rating down to 4 stars.

The only other niggle is that when calling a number for the phone book you have to, for no good reason, press the call button twice. Not a big deal, but a little frustrating.
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on 26 August 2012
Overall, I suppose I'm fairly satisfied. The phones look reasonable and generally work well. However, they are quiet (and I don't believe I am hard of hearing). I have all phones turned up to maximum volume and still I sometimes struggles to hear what is being said if there is too much background noise. So, on a functional basis, I would normally give them 4 stars, but since I don't think it's unreasonable to expect more from Panasonic (I have had lots of their phones before), I am going to reduce my rating to 3 stars.
Note: Panasonic - if you read this and care to tell me how to make them louder still, I would be delighted to know...
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on 23 July 2012
A well made product full of features. Easy to programme, good volume and the hands free is a good feature. It looks good too especially with the colour screen.
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on 1 July 2012
This is the first time I have not bought BT cordless phone, but as I was so disappointed with last phone thought I would try panasonic. These are excellent phones and I am extremely pleased with my purchase!
The sound quality is excellent and much clearer than any BT phone I have owned. There are a large variety of features that are easy to use.
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on 28 September 2012
This is my third Panasonic phone and although I am pleased with the increased number of people I can put on the phone directory, the colour screen, and the audible alert (it actually speaks the name of the person) as to who is calling me - I do feel that in other areas this phone has taken a backward step for example the ring tone even at the loudest volume may be okay with someone who has A1 hearing but for anyone who is slightly deaf it is just not loud enough also the menus are rather long winded and only the base unit indicates whether you have received a message from someone whereas on previous versions all the handsets used a flashing light to show that there was a message to pick up.

My final complaint is aimed at all home phones these days as not one company seems to provide an audible alert giving you a clear indication that you have a message or messages waiting. It's all too easy to come into the house and not be aware that someone has been trying to contact you unless you make a point of actually going to the base unit and having a look!
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on 26 June 2012
Having previously owned two BT cordless handsets, these new Panasonic ones made a refreshing change. Volume was an issue on my old handsets, but not on these. These handsets are abundant in features and work as they should. Features include a choice of 40 ringtones, recording of calls, various displays, alarm and the list goes on. No complaints here at all.
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on 22 August 2012
Very pleased with the purchase of these Panasonic phones. The sound quality is far superior to the BT phones they replace. They are light and not too big which makes holding then easy enough and have hands free speaker functionality if you don't want to hold them!! The address book updating is easy and all handsets are synced to keep them up to date. A couple of features that I found useful which I did not realise they had was the speaking of the callers name if you have caller id on your line and the night time feature which you can set any of the hand sets not to ring at certain times during the night. Overall very happy, they look good, easy to use and sound great.
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