Several months back, we swapped out our home phones for a new set of Uniden DECT1580. You may notice when shopping for them that there are several model numbers, ending in 2,3, 4, 5 or 6; all are the same phone with the sole exception being the final digit denotes the total number of handsets. All have the same base unit with answering machine (or is that too antiquated a term now?) that is the one connected to a phone jack in your home, and the extension handsets (connected only to power outlets) are the same save for quantity. As it was, we picked up a “6 pack” at a warehouse club for a good price.
I don’t think I’m going out on a terribly long limb to think that, when all is said and done, it’s all about being able to hear the other person clearly. Cordless phones have come so far from the days of being a static-filled novelty with a range approximately the size of your arm span to being every bit as clear as a “wired” phone. Obviously, other factors beyond the phone itself come into play when you factor in your service provider, but that’s true of any type of phone.
The Uniden DECT 1580 is, indeed, as good as the wired phone we have in our house (a bit of advice for any cordless phone: don’t rely on them entirely; when the power is out, you still want a way to communicate). I’ve carried the phone’s various headsets throughout our house and not noticed a degradation in quality, and that’s about all one can ask for from a cordless phone.
I’ll begin by saying I don’t use the answering system; instead, we use the voice mail system from our phone provider. But from trying it out to see how the system works, it’s a fairly standard digital answering system, with a large LED message counter on the base unit, a time/date voice stamp that identifies when a message comes in and the ability to access messages from any handset on the system. As a side note, if, like me, you use the voice mail system from your provider, it may be one that provides a notification to your phone; in the Uniden DECT 1580’s case, a small red LED flashes on the handset when our network indicates we have a voice mail.
The Uniden DECT 1580’s caller ID is also fairly standard (availability is likewise based on your local provider). The large LCD screen is easy to read, and provides enough characters to identify the full identities of most callers.
Now I don’t know about you, but with people’s work, cell, blackberry, home and whatever other numbers, phone directories are more important to me than ever, and this phone has an easy-to-access directory by pushing a circular “multifunction” button on the phone to the side that has what looks like a phone book (do young people even know what that is anymore?). Entering the phone numbers and accompanying labels is standard, using the numeric keypad to denote letters, though it can be time consuming (like text messaging on some cell phones) if you accidentally scroll past the letter you want frequently. I attribute that to clumsy finger work on my part, not a design flaw, though. Once you’ve entered your phone numbers/contacts in one handset, you can zap that directory to any/all of the other handsets, a big step up from the old days when each new phone meant programming a whole new list of phone numbers.
The Uniden DECT 1580 also has a nice intercom feature, so if you’re at one end of the house, you can call someone in another room. On our previous multi-handset phone, the intercom feature was also present, but with an important difference: the DECT 1580 lets you “label” each phone instead of referring to it just as “handset 1” etc. Trying to remember on the old phone whether “handset 2” was the bedroom or the basement was never something that worked out well. By being able to use the handset to select a handset with easily identifiable labels like “kitchen” is far more convenient.
Reminiscent of some basic cell phones with its button layout and use of icons for voice mail and directory features, the Uniden DECT 1580 is a lightweight and ergonomic little phone. It’s orange backlight makes reading the display and the main dialing buttons in the dark easy, but—and here’s a flaw I find—the multifunction button that accesses the features is not illuminated. I suppose the argument can be made that when you’re in need of a directory, you may want to turn on the light anyway, but I’d prefer to see that button light up as well (experiences with calling the pediatrician in the middle of the night come to mind; sometimes you don’t want to turn on the light when you can avoid it).
Missing from the phone is a jack to use a corded headset. Not a make-or-break issue to me, but I liked having the ability to use a combination earpiece/microphone for talking on the phone while doing certain tasks like folding laundry. With this model, I don’t have the flexibility to, say, tuck my phone in a shirt pocket while talking to someone “hands-free.” (I know, use my cell phone and a bluetooth headseat, right?)
The base units for the handsets are compact, a definite “must” for a crowded desktop or other space where you want to add a phone. The power cords that come with the unit aren’t overly long (a couple of feet), so think about the accessibility to an outlet or the possible need for an extension cord before settling on where you can place a handset. Naturally, the base unit also needs to be in the proximity of a phone jack in your home. The provided cord gives you several feet to work with, but any electronics or general merchandise store will have cheap phone cords as an alternative if you need to be more “creative” in where you locate the base. Keep in mind, too, that all of the handset cords (base and extension units) have some of those large ends where you plug it into the wall, so if you’re using a power strip, you may need to have more than one outlet available as those larger ends take up extra space.
The Final Verdict
If you’re looking for a reliable, functional phone system with good features and good sound quality, one of the Uniden DECT 1580 systems is definitely worth a look. Just select the one that best matches your needs for the number of phones you want in your home.
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