I have been using the AT&T 86109 phone system for about one month. I have a large house with 2 landlines and needed a new system to replace my aging Panasonic 2 line system that had many of the handsets with non functioning displays.
Recommend this product?
Mid priced 2 line system are hard to find. Retailers like Costco are loaded with one line phone systems. I also wanted at least 8 remote handsets. This is even more difficult to find. And, if I was going to lay down a considerable amount of money, I wanted new useful features and a better system. I bought AT&T 89109 with the full compliment of 12 handsets. This gives me a phone in almost every room in my house. It also made the system quit costly.
One note. I use the answering system provided by my cable phone provider. I have not used the answering system on the phone, so I will not review it here.
So, here is the Good, Bad, and Ugly:
· Easy set up. Mating each of the 12 handsets was a snap.
· Sound quality is excellent. Sounds on both ends of the conversation is as good as if it is was corded handset. All else aside, this is a key feature.
· The base unit can link to our 2 cell phones in addition to the 12 handsets. This is a killer feature that gave me a reason to buy this system other than just to replace my aging Panasonic. Once you pair your Bluetooth cell phone to the base, it flawlessly links to the base station so long as it is within 15 – 20 feet of the base. This distance seems to vary. Sometimes it links even when the cell is on the 2nd floor of my house (my base station is in our dinette on the 1st floor), sometimes not. Seems to link most of the time when the cells are on the first floor.
Once the cells are linked to the base, the base will pick up incoming calls and ring all the remote handsets in the house (in my case, all 12 of them). You can use the any handset to answer either of the 2 linked cell phones. Clarity is great (I have good cell phone signal in my house – may vary if your signal is poor on your cells). In addition, you can make outgoing calls from and any handset to either of the 2 cell phones I have linked. Best of all, once set up, it all works automatically. You do not need to do anything other than keep the cell phone in proximity of the base station. Blue lights illuminate on the base for each cell phone that is connected. It has already picked up calls on my cell phone that I would have missed. I no longer need to run for the cell phone when someone calls it. You will love this feature. Be sure you have a Bluetooth capable cell phone to use the feature.
· Display is east to read. So far, no blackouts of the display. I had trouble with many of the handset displays on the Panasonic system almost from day one.
· Battery life is amazing. Lasts for days on the handsets when in standby, and I talked for an hour and a half on a call with plenty of charge left. One footnote on this -- when the battery on a handset does run down, it takes many hours to bring it back up to full charge. I consider this very minor, especially that I have 12 handsets. I might feel different if I had just one handset.
· Handset layout is simple and once you get used to it. I had an adjustment from the Panasonic system which was slightly different.
· Each handset can access and phone directory I downloaded from one of the cellphones into the base station. No need to program each handset.
· The handsets displays the number of missed calls and if the phone company voice mail has picked up a call – this is a nice feature.
· The phone system is Energy Star rated.
· Handsets are labeled Handset #1, #2, etc. Would have been nice to be able to rename each handset with a more descriptive notation – “Kitchen”, “Master Bedroom”, etc. The numbers are meaningless to me, and make ringing the headset hit or miss. You can ring all handsets, however.
· My old Panasonic system had a better method to access the Caller ID Log. The AT&T system forces you to use the menu, or a combination of the center function key and the menu. Either case, it is about 3 steps. This is a function I use a lot to see who called and it would be nice if it was easily accessed.
· Each handset screen displays the notation “Ans Sys Off” for each of the 2 lines. It alternately displays the missed calls. Also, it alternately displays “Voicemail” if my phone company voicemail picked up a call. The latter is a great feature but I would love to eliminate the “Ans Sys Off” message. I know it is off.
· The base station uses a corded handset. I’m not sure why AT&T just didn’t use a cordless handset to replace the corded one. This is what my old Panasonic system did. This might be a matter of preference, but for me, I not have both the base station and a cordless handset in my dinette.
· Each handset has a blue glowing light which illuminates when it is in the charger. You don’t think anything about the light when the phone is in your kitchen with the room lights on. However, I have 2 of the handsets in my Master Bedroom on each end table, and these two handsets manage to illuminate the whole room at night when all lights are out. There is no way of shutting the light off other than removing the handset from the cradle which is what I do. Lucky the battery life is good since we forget to put it back into the cradle sometimes for days. I plan to get a timer which I will plug the 2 cradles into which I will set to turn off at 11pm and back on at 7am. This should solve the problem, but until then, I must remember to take the phone out of the cradle. The good thing is that I have a phone in our Master Bath, and I no longer need to turn a light on if I use the room at night. If AT&T reads this, please, please, please give us some way to dim or turn the light off.
· I separately bought the AT&T Dect 6.0 headset model TL-7600. I could not get it to mate with the base station and upon reading the AT&T web site, it is not listed as a compatible headset. How do they have a Dect 6.0 headset which will not mate with their own phone.
· Like many people with phone company answering systems, I did not need a phone with an answering system. I would have liked it if AT&T sold a version of this system without the answering system. It would have made the base station smaller and perhaps less costly.
In all, I really like this phone system. I’m not sure how it would rate as a small office system, but it is one great home system – although somewhat pricy if you buy all the handsets.