Is this the Vtech phone you need? How does it compare to other Vtech phones? To a comparable Sony phone? The answers are provided (at least partially) in this review.
Recommend this product?
NOTE: The picture and description for the Vtech vt03_9111 are actually a picture and description of the Vtech vt03_9151hj. Because it appears that Epinions accidentally entered the wrong model number, I am submitting this review of the phone described and shown in the picture (VT03_9151hj). I have notified Epinions of the mistake and they will hopefully change the model number to match the picture and description. The difference between the 9111 and 9151 models is given below.
I have written a review of the Sony SPP-A946 which has a few more features than the Vtech vt03_9151hj (and costs more too). I have the Sony phone at our house and I also own the Vtech vt_9151hj, which I use at work. I have used both phones for several months and will be comparing some of their features here.
What the numbers mean
Notice that the Vtech phone I own is the vt_9151hj as opposed to the vt03_9151hj. All that means is that my phone is black instead of transparent green. Let's look at some of the phones in Vtech's line-up:
900 MHz Cordless phones with a 3-mailbox answering machine and headset jack (hj) on the handset
vt_9151hj = black base and handset
vt01_9151hj = red
vt02_9151hj = purple
vt03_9151hj = green
vt03_9151hj = translucent green base and handset (pictured here)
Cost = $40 - $50
900MHz Analog Cordless with Caller ID in Base (no answering machine, no headset jack)
vt01_9121 = red
vt02_9121 = purple
vt03_9121 = green
Cost = $30 - $40
900 MHz Fun Fone (no caller ID, no answering machine, no headset jack)
vt01_9111 = red
vt02_9111 = blue
vt03_9111 = green
Cost = $20 - $30
The handset and base of all of these phones are very similar, and I would expect call quality to be essentially the same for the different models as well (but my experience is only with the 9151 model). I recommend you choose your model based on the features you are looking for. Having said that, let's take a look at the features of the 9151 model, which is what this review is supposed to be about anyway.
My office is on the third floor and I have carried my phone down three flights of stairs to the first floor and still had excellent reception. During the trip down the stairs, I experienced a lot of static as I passed office after office with computers in them. However, once I stood still on the first floor, the static disappeared and voice quality was good. I would say the reception is even better than my more expensive Sony phone at home. I simply have no complaints about the quality of sound on this phone. Furthermore, I had a friend call me while I had the handset two floors away from the base and the handset picked up the call fine.
If you read my review of my Sony phone, you know that I wasn't impressed with the voice quality on the answering machine for that phone. The Vtech 9151 has better voice accuracy than the Sony. Even though it is a digital answering machine (thus no tapes to rewind), the voices don't sound too digital. The answering machine has three mailboxes, so users can hear "To leave a message for Bob, press 1. To leave a message for Carol, press 2." and so on. Then, Bob and Carol can check their personal messages without having to hear the other's messages. I will return to the issue of three mailboxes later when discussing for whom this phone is best suited.
I like the feel of the handset much better than the Sony. The buttons are white or blue with dark lettering, making them easy to read. The buttons are a little larger and farther apart on the Vtech, making dialing easy. The volume knob on the handset adjusts for three levels of volume, but you have to push it hard to move it. This is good because it keeps you from inadvertently moving the volume. The one negative aspect (get ready, it's kind of gross) of the handset is that the smooth plastic strip above the dialpad shows oil residue from resting against your skin on your face. I am sure all phones do this, but the Vtech is the only one where I have noticed it. I apologize if that was gross, but I'm trying to help you decide if this phone is for you and I want you to know all the details.
Like most cordless phones, the Vtech 9151 can be set for base and handset ringer, or handset ringer only. I have mine set to both, and notice that the base rings first and a couple of seconds later the handset will ring. This occurs even if the handset is sitting right next to the base. The number of rings on the base unit determines when the answering machine will pick up (you can set it to pick up after 2, 4, or 6 rings).
10 number speed dial: This was easy to program and use (I figured it out without looking at the manual).
Dual Batter Charging System: The base contains a storage unit for a second battery. That way, if your current handset battery dies, you have one already charged in the base. I haven't used that feature as I keep the handset well charged.
Any Key Answer: To answer a call, you can press any key on the handset (instead of having to press "phone."
Message Waiting Indicator: To quote my Sony review, "Well I should hope it has this feature."
Handset Page locator: Also functions like the Sony where it continues to beep until you punch a button. Very useful (but I still want one on my TV remote control).
Quick Skip: When listening to a message, you can press "Skip" to immediately skip to the next message. That way, you don't have to listen to the entire message including day/time information.
Headset Jack: The handset has a jack into which you can plug a headset. Any Vtech phone that has "hj" in the model number has this feature. I haven't used the feature but I can comment on the fact that the cover to the headset jack is unobtrusive and doesn't fall open accidentally. It is located where your thumb rests (right handers) and the volume knob is located where your index finger rests.
Vibrant Colors: Mine's black, but you can get it in translucent green as the picture here shows. Other colors are available as well, as the manufacturer's web site shows. To visit the manufacturer's web site from this review, scroll to the top of this page and click on the link underneath the picture of the phone. From that page, click on the link that reads "Manufacturer's Product Page." There you should be able to see all of Vtech's line up.
What this phone doesn't have
I like my Vtech. It's better (in my opinion) than my Sony at home when comparing similar features (reception, answering machine, ease of use). However, the Sony SPP-A946 has two features that I wish the Vtech 9151 had: a speakerphone and the ability to dial from the base (my review of the Sony phone discusses why these features are useful).
The Vtech 9151 also doesn't have Caller ID, which is a big negative for many people. If you want a Vtech phone with Caller ID, look to the 9121 models. If you want Caller ID and a speakerphone, try the vt1932 (around $150) and if you want Caller ID and an answering machine, try the vt1962 (around $130).
So who should buy the vt03_9151hj?
In my opinion, this phone would work for anyone looking for a good quality cordless with an answering machine. I use only one mailbox and it works fine. If you like a colorful phone, get the vt03 and if you don't, look for the straight vt_9151 black model. A great use for this phone, I think, would be a family with teenage children who get lots of messages (which they don't want their parents to hear). An ideal use for this phone would be college students who share an apartment or dorm. The color would make the phone popular, and each roommate would appreciate their own private message center.
I can think of no significant negatives to this phone, other than the lack of caller ID and a speakerphone. However, for less than $50 they can only put so many features in the phone. If you need a speakerphone with your answering machine, check out the Sony SPP-A946. If you don't need a speakerphone or caller ID, I highly recommend the Vtech vt_9151 (or it's translucent green sister, the vt03_9151).
I hope this information has helped you with your decision.
This review is Part 2 of my reviews of Cordless phones with Answering Machines. Part 1 was:
The Sony SPP-A946
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