Pros: Has most of the necessary features.
Cons: Doesn't announce callers; some confusing features.
When I watch movies from the 1980's, I am always amused at those clunky, cumbersome cordless telephone handsets that the actors are using - which had the approximate dimensions of a small watermelon and sprouted lengthy antennae to boot. I remember the bulky model that my family had some 30 years ago, and how fascinated we were with the technology at the time. The Uniden® D1680 Digital Answering System is nothing like its obsolete forebears, which although they were imbued with the same basic principles of operation, had neither the finesse nor the sophistication of today's telephones. D1680 (not to be confused with C3PO or R2D2!) is the much-evolved, slimmer descendant of its ponderous electronic ancestors. What I love about my model is that I purchased the unit for less than $10 on Ebay, and with free shipping! The phone was refurbished and not brand new, but works perfectly; that is, within its own limitations, which I shall hereby enumerate.
The challenge in reviewing this model of cordless telephone is finding features in which it surpasses similar models. There are scarcely any truly new features to be found in telecommunications within the past decade, but improved or longer-lasting versions of previous perks are sufficient to tout.
Firstly, the recording time for incoming messages is over 12 minutes, and even the most garrulous of friends and acquaintances would have trouble exceeding that limit. The sound quality for digital recording is better than when the technology first appeared, although still not great. I remarked years ago in a review of another answering system that the recording made me sound like I was underwater. With the D1680 this is fortunately not the case.
The unit's directory stores up to 100 contacts, which can be accessed by either scrolling through the entire list, or searching by the first letter of the contact's name. This works well if you are looking up your friend Michael Xavier's number (Xavier, Michael), but try John and Jane Jones (Jones, John and Jane; Jones, Tom; Jones, Bob, etc). Although clear instructions are indicated in the manual that comes with the D1680, figuring out how to enter names and telephone numbers into the directory without first reading the instructions was fairly easy. I made a few mistakes at first, but soon was at ease with the process.
A little red light, located on the upper left of the handset, flashes when there are unheard messages on your voicemail. This is not as obvious as the loud beeping, which can be disabled, when there are messages on the regular answering machine. As a backup to the beeping, a large red display indicates the number of messages. My old telephone and answering machine, which was not cordless, at least announced the number of the caller, so that I didn't have to get up, walk over to the telephone, and read the display. You can program a two-digit security code so that you can securely access messages when you are not home. I much prefer the traditional three-numeral access code, however. I had difficulty coming up with a two-digit code that I could remember.
A speakerphone we take for granted on a telephone nowadays, and of course, the D1680 has one. Caller ID and Call Waiting are also features that the modern telephone user has come to expect, and the D1680 does not disappoint in that regard, either. Call Waiting is accessed by pushing the button marked TALK (in green) and FLASH (in white) underneath. I only found this out after reading the instruction manual, and losing quite a few calls! The default way to answer a call is to pick up the handset and then press the TALK/FLASH button. To me this makes little sense. You should be able to answer a telephone simply by picking up the handset. Of course, the D1680 can be programmed to do this, as well as to answer with any key, but the former should be automatic. A couple of times I inadvertently answered the phone without pressing TALK/FLASH immediately afterwards, and got an earful! I have since changed the setting.
Silent Mode, which is accessed by the push of the # button (located to the left of numeral 0 and directly beneath numeral 9 on the keypad, mutes the ringer instantly. I prefer this to fiddling with the ringer switch on the side of the handset and accidentally switching the phone from tone to pulse. (This was the case with my old telephone, not with the D1680).
The Find HS button (located on the telephone base, of course) will cause a misplaced handset to beep loudly for one minute, or until it is located and subsequently silenced. This is an indispensable feature for a household with several family members. The fact that up to 12 handsets can be used with this unit makes the D1680 good for a small office (but not for a large one). If, like most consumer units, your D1680 has only one handset, this will be indicated as such on the screen as Handset #1. The handset or handsets must be charged for quite a few hours prior to use; the instruction manual recommends 15. You may be able to make one or two brief calls after installing the battery pack, but probably not many more. The D1680 handset requires a pair of rechargeable AA NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries.
Putting a caller on hold is a little tricky: INTERCOM/CLEAR, located in the lower right corner of the keypad, accomplishes this. But the INTERCOM/CLEAR does not toggle the feature. To return to the call on hold, you must press the speaker button, which of course is not labeled "SPEAKER," but instead has a loudspeaker icon. If you forget about the person whom you placed on hold, there will be no gentle reminder. The D1680 simply hangs up on him or her.
Numerous icons may appear on the handset's tiny screen, most of which will confound you unnecessarily if you try to figure them out. A couple are pretty simple, but the D1680 has too many. You don't need an icon to monitor every single little function or contingency.
My D1680 gives me some choices, but not a great many. I can only choose from seven different ring tones: Aura Lee, Beethoven's 9th, Flicker, Clatter, Wake Up, Fur Elise and Merry Xmas. Not a wide variety, and the Beethoven selections hardly do justice to the great Ludwig! It seems strange to me that only seven ring tones were available, though, and I am wondering if it's just my unit. No matter, though.