Pros: Bluetooth Cell Link, sound quality, Talking Caller-ID, inexpensive
Cons: Bluetooth compatibility not 100%, no base station backup battery.
When our old trusty Uniden needed a new battery, we decided it was time to say good bye and find something new. Personally, I wanted a system with a number of cordless sets that we could distribute through the home, especially in the basement and perhaps the garage.
On top of that, I'm an IT professional that is often on call. The ability to link my cell phone to the system is invaluable.
As far as the shoping experience, there isn't a lot to say about the phone itself. Reviews concerning call quality and reliability influenced the decision for sure, and the fact that I've had good experience with Panasonic phones in the past, but the price was also right.
Initial setup and use was also rather unremarkable. Everything is typical up until you get into the bluetooth link.
Bluetooth! The bummer...
Apparently there can be trouble with some phones linking with this system, particularly older phones. This is something you may want to look into before purchasing, otherwise buy locally so you can promptly return should your cell phone be incompatible. My wife's very old Samsung wouldn't link properly. I don't know how much of that is the fault of Pansonic's bluetooth implementation or the manufacturers of the cell phones.
Bluetooth! The good....
As soon as I walk into the house, my cell phone links with the Panasonic base unit, often before I enter the house. I never have to think about it. It simply is. I no longer dread hearing my cell phone ringing downstairs and having to run for it. I don't miss calls because I left it on vibrate. It rings through the Panasonic system and I get all the caller ID information with it. Not only that, but I can place calls through the cell phone using the house phone, so business calls can be made via my work-provided cell phone.
Incoming calls from the my cells are marked with its bluetooth identifier, which is something like "DROIDRZ". We are able to take calls from cell phones and the land line simulateously.
Address Book Sync
I have only done this once, but it was a much appreciated feature for sure. The bluetooth link includes the ability to sync the address book. My smartphone has quite a list in it, so it wasn't the prettiest transfer ever, but it cleaned up nicely and I didn't have to enter all those friends and family into the phone. And, yes, the Address Book is the same for all handsets, making life particularly easy.
Talking Caller ID
I wasn't particularly excited about the Talking Caller ID. How obnoxious is a talking phone going to be? Everytime the phone rings?! However, it has been a very welcome feature. It often sounds completely ridiculous, but the voice itself is no more intrusive than the ring. It has no awareness of acronyms and caller ID is often incomplete, so mispronunciations are common. You generally can identify the call without having to find a phone to stare at though, especially regular callers.
Intercom and Station ID
We never use the station to station calling, or intercom - the layout of our home simply doesn't warrant it - but it is nice that the phones can be set with a name identifier. Examples: Kitchen, LivingRm, Bedroom, etc... It especially helps when a handset wanders off from its usual home, kind of like tags on a dog to identify his home.
A not so often used feature is the ability to block calls. You can add them straight from the recent call list too.
Menus and Settings
The menu system is fairly intuative - not great, but not bad either - and is somewhat reminiscent of cell phones from almost 10 years ago that had simple monochromatic (black and white) LCD screens. The screens are easy to read, but there are limitations in character size and the number of characters, much like those old cell phones. The variety of settings available seem comprehensive and I've found nothing lacking.
Base Unit and Voicemail
There isn't much to say about the base unit. It is not unlike any other, with the base radio system integrated into it, along with the voicemail features and interface. The usual voicemail indicators are there, showing the number of messages waiting. You can listen to them via the base unit or via any of the handsets. If you do have messages waiting, the dial-tone changes to alert you when you go to make a phone call, just in case you have missed the indicators elsewhere. A text message is also displayed on the handsets.
The only thing notable that comes to mind is the bluetooth link indicators. There are two LEDs for this; one for each of the two available links. They are red when disconnected and green when linked. Seeing my light turn green gives me assurance that my cell is tethered, or linked, to the system.
These handsets don't seem to be quite as nicely made as the old Uniden, but the Uniden with a single handset cost nearly as much as this system with four. The buttons certainly are not as nice. They're the ever common rubber type buttons that feel somewhat mushy, but they do the trick and are no worse than others of the same type. No real complaints there.
Responsiveness seems a little sluggish compared to the Uniden, but hasn't been a nuisanse to us.
The build quality appears good, especially for the price. We have been using these for quite a while with absolutely no issues at all. They dock and charge with no troubles. All buttons are responsive and call quality is consistently good.
There's really nothing extraordinary about these phones. Call quality is very good to great. No complaints there. Range is excellent. The basic features are all there and all relatively intuitive. The handsets even have a speaker phone feature, which our prior phones never had. Overall quality is good given the cost and features. The smaller size and nearly lack of a protruding antenna is a nice upgrade.
Higher end versions of this phone come with a backup battery within the base unit. So long as the handsets have a good charge, calls are still available. The cost difference was enough that we decided we were fine without that option, particularly with a corded phone ready as a backup.
It is difficult to rave about this, but only because of what it is. It's just a phone system and it simply works. And it works well. This particular Panasonic system may not be perfect for you, but I certainly recommend considering it and their other offerings.