Consumer Reports – Cordless-phones

It’s easier than ever to have a planar magnetic headphones where you want one. The newest breed of cordless phoneslets you put a handset in any room in the house, even if no phone jack is nearby.

However, manufacturers still offer a bewildering array of phones: inexpensive models that offer the basics; multihandset, full-featured phones with a built-in answering machine; single-line and two-line phones; digital and analog phones, and different frequency bands. In many instances, a phone will have a phone-answerer sibling. Many phone-answerers come in a phone-only version. If you have a cordless phone that’s several years old, it’s probably a 900-MHz phone. Newer phones use higher frequencies, namely 2.4 or 5.8 GHz. They aren’t necessarily better than the older ones, but they may provide more calling security and a wider array of useful capabilities and features.


AT&T, Bell South, GE, Panasonic, Uniden, and VTech account for more than 70 percent of the market. VTech owns the AT&T Consumer Products Division and now makes phones under the AT&T brand as well as its own name.

The current trends include phones that support two or more handsets with one base, less expensive 2.4- and 5.8-GHz analog phones, and full-featured 2.4 and 5.8-GHz digital phones. Some of the multiple-handset-capable phones now include an additional handset with a charging cradle. About a third of the cordless phones sold include a digital answering machine.

A main distinction among cordless phones is the way they transmit their signals. Here are some terms that you may see while shopping and what they mean for you:

Analog. These phones are the least expensive type available now. They tend to have the better voice quality and enough range to let you chat anywhere in your house and yard, or even a little beyond. They are also unlikely to cause interference to other wireless products. But analog transmission isn’t very secure; anyone with an RF scanner or comparable wireless device might be able to listen in. Analog phones are also more likely than digital phones to suffer occasional static and RF interference from other wireless products. Price range: $15 to $100.

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