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The best cordless DECT phones from Panasonic, AT&T, and Uniden

Consumer Reports News: July 25, 2011 08:08 AM

In this era of snazzy, do-it-all cell phones, cordless phones get little attention, but don't hang up on them just yet. Cordless phones have a few advantages that make them a smart choice for at-home use.

For one thing, they have much better voice quality than cell phones, so you can enjoy day-to-day chats more. They're also more dependable in emergencies: A cordless phone connected to a landline will more reliably give your address to 911 operators, and models with a corded handset on the base, such as the AT&T TL86109 ($130), will work even during power outages (provided your phone service is still up and running; cable modems require electrical power unless you have a backup battery).

Cordless phones are also better than ever, thanks largely to DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) technology:

  • You can use a handset farther from the base. Phones like the Panasonic KX-TG4053B ($100), for example, should work even in the yard.
  • There's virtually none of the interference problems that plagued older analog and digital phones that shared radio frequencies with microwaves and baby monitors.
  • New handsets offer 12 or more hours of talk time on a single charge.
  • You can have as many as 12 handsets connected to one base, each requiring just a power outlet, and use them as intercoms from room to room.

Some cordless phones, such as the Uniden DECT3288-2 ($100), support Bluetooth technology, which enables you to connect to a wireless headset, so no more crunching the phone between your head and shoulder while you're doing chores. You can even route cell calls through your cordless phone, a big plus. You don't have to figure out which phone is ringing, or remember where it is, and you might get better cell-phone reception in otherwise hard-to-reach areas like your basement. There's a financial plus as well. You can more easily use your cell phone's unlimited calling plan at home, on a handset that might be more comfortable.

To see which of the latest models performed the best, check out our Ratings of cordless phones, available to subscribers.

Mike Gikas

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