Panasonic 2.4 GHz Multi-Handset 4-Line Cordless Phone System
by Jim Hanks
Whether due to downsizing, specialization, the proliferation of
satellite offices, or the internet boom, a large percentage of
workplaces now operate with 10 employees or less. With such limited
staffing, is an expensive phone system really necessary?
Until now, there haven't been many reliable alternatives. But if you have a
small- to medium-sized office, Panasonic's new cordless system can
save you the hassle and expense of installing a costly PBX. The
is cordless, equipped with voice mail and an automated attendant,
inexpensive, and capable of connecting up to 8 handsets to 4 incoming
phone lines. I've reviewed quite a few phone systems in today's
market, and I must say that, in my opinion, this product blows
everything else away. And if you are part of a small department in a
large company that already has a PBX in place, this system can
function behind it.
The single handset included with your base station is
pre-registered at the factory and is ready to use right out of the
box. If you choose to purchase
handsets (for $150) the registration process takes just a few
seconds. Setup involves the usual connection of phone lines and AC
adapters (one adapter for the base station and one for each handset
charger). You'll also need to program a few features such as the
clock and your voice mail passwords. Overall, getting started is
quick, simple, and intuitive.
Base station features
Without the button clutter commonly found on other high-end
systems, this well-designed base station provides an array of
functions. Its tilted design and large LCD make reading caller
information and accessing system features much easier. Actually, the
only thing I didn't like about this phone system at first was the
base station's somewhat large size. But when I remembered it's
replacing the need for a PBX, the overall dimensions seem extremely
Caller ID, phone directory, and redial
Because it acts as the central router, the base station can store
more Caller ID and phone directory entries than the handsets. From
any extension, Caller ID information can be transferred to a
directory for speed-dialing. The base station stores up to 50 Caller
ID entries and 100 phone numbers, while handsets hold up to 30 Caller
ID entries and 50 phone numbers. Additionally, each extension offers
a 10-number redial memory. With these 3 services, you will rarely
dial a telephone number yourself.
Often with cordless systems, the intercom feature is seldom
employed. Is anyone ever that far from the base station? But
with the extended range supplied by 2.4 GHz technology and the
Panasonic's handset-to-handset intercom capabilities, you'll probably
find yourself buzzing co-workers often. On the base station, each
extension has its own intercom button with space beside it for
writing down corresponding names. These buttons can also be used to
transfer calls to one or all handsets. If they choose to, employees
can then use their handsets' own intercom buttons to transfer calls
or talk to each other.
Conference call, speakerphone, headset capabilities
Up to 3 people can participate in calls using either the base
unit's speakerphone or the conference call feature. Conference calls
can be initiated from any of the handsets or the base station. If
you're worried about privacy, the base station has its own corded
handset as well as a jack for using a headset (headset not included).
During normal use, the base station keeps a NiCd battery fully
charged. Should a power failure occur, this battery can maintain full
system power for up to 20 minutes. You don't have to worry about AA
batteries rusting or expiring.
The stylish handsets with lighted dialpads are among the best on the market.
Using 2.4 GHz technology, range is superb and the NiMH
battery keeps power strong for up to 3 days of regular use. Each handset provides
access to all 4 lines as well as the ability to communicate with all the others.
As with the base station, the excellent ergonomics and large backlit LCD make
functions easy to use and keep button clutter to a minimum. And if you use the
supplied belt clip and a headset, mobility can be at a maximum.
The base and all 8 cordless extensions have their own voice mail
mailboxes and passwords. Together the mailboxes can hold up to a
total of 50 minutes of messages and greetings. If you need additional
space, recordings can be set to a lower quality level, thereby
doubling the capacity to 100 minutes total. Even on this setting, the
clarity is excellent. And since keeping track of capacity when you
have up to 8 extensions in the office can be difficult, the system
can be set to erase all messages that are one month old.
Here's a great example of this system's user-friendly design: When
listening to messages, most voice mail systems prompt you to both
save and erase a message. But when you think about it, isn't
doing one negating the other? If you save a message, you obviously
don't want to erase it. Why do systems make you listen to both
options? Well, this system doesn't. This may seem like a trivial
point; but, personally, I appreciate any amount of time a phone
system can save me.
Automated attendant system
By greeting callers and transferring them to the appropriate
extensions, the Automated Attendant System (AAS) gives smaller
offices a larger, more professional image. Each of the incoming lines
on the base station has its own button to activate the AAS. Once
activated, one of 5 greetings (pre-recorded or self-recorded) can
be selected. Assign specific lines to each department yet still give
employees access to all 4 lines. The greetings instruct callers how
to reach their desired extensions.
The system can be set up to function as a simple answering machine
where calls immediately ring all extensions, then are diverted to the
general mailbox if no one answers. Or if you'd like to assign
specific extensions to each incoming line, ring groups can be
programmed. For example, a call to line 1 can ring extensions 0 (base
unit), 2, 4, and 8. A call to line 2 can ring extensions 5 through 7.
If another call is received by an active handset, 2 short tones
will sound and a line status icon will flash on the LCD as it
displays the Call Waiting ID information. If left unanswered, the
call will be diverted to the AAS.
One of the few flaws of Panasonic's single line 2.4 GHz
cordless phone was its poorly configured remote operation.
Fortunately, the entire process has been revamped. When you call the
multi-line system from an outside telephone, press * and your
password. You'll be transferred immediately to your mailbox. From
there, helpful voice prompts guide you through other system features.
Limitations on simultaneous use
You cannot have all 8 handsets active at the same time. The
possible combination of active components is somewhat more
complicated, but, in a nutshell, only 4 handsets can be
simultaneously in use, whether they are connected to an outside call
or to each other via intercom. Keep this in mind if your group will
be using the intercom feature often during times when phone traffic
Pager notification is available for each extension. Input your
pager number into a handset or the base station. When you receive a
new voice mail message, the system will call your pager and leave the
caller's telephone number with an "11" at the end. If Caller ID
information is not available, your pager will display a preset number
of your choice.
The Panasonic Multi-Line Phone System lets you restrict calls made
from individual extensions. For instance, if you have a few employees
who abuse their phone privileges, you can prevent their extensions
from making long distance or international calls.
By incorporating all the best features of their single-line 2.4 GHz cordless
phones while fixing a few problems (such as remote message retrieval), Panasonic
has delivered an outstanding multi-extension 4-line phone system. At the low
price of $529.99 (which includes the base, one handset, and a handset charging
cradle), this is the best phone system I have ever reviewed. I can't imagine
anyone being disappointed with it. If you don't have 4 lines in your office,
you might want to check out the 2-line version here.
It has the same great features at a lower price.
I Liked Best
I Didn't Like
- Accommodates 4 incoming lines and 8 cordless extensions
- Easy setup
- Call transfer/intercom between extensions
- Separate phone directories and Caller ID for extensions
- Stylish handsets
- Excellent 2.4 GHz range and long-lasting NiMH batteries
- Automated Attendant System
- 9 Voice mail mailboxes
- Excellent remote operation
- Only 4 handsets can be in use at the same time