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NEW AT&T 5.8 GHz Cordless Phone System


As cordless phones have become more popular in the home and office, the 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz frequencies have become congested. To remedy this problem, the FCC recently opened up the 5.8 GHz channel. Due to the newness of this channel, 5.8 GHz phones have much better clarity and range.

The AT&T 5.8 GHz Cordless Phone System is one such device. Equipped with a digital answering machine and the ability to add up to 5 additional handsets, this telephone system is excellent for smaller offices and larger households. For $239.99*, you can have cutting-edge technology and exceptional clarity. And for just $99.99 each, you can add up to 5 handsets to the same system and phone line.

Setting up this system is very straightforward. Just plug the base station into the outlet and charge your handset(s) overnight. Once fully charged, plug in your phone line. If you purchased additional handsets, quickly register them with the base station through the scrolling menus. Then, the last thing you need to do is record an outgoing message for the digital answering machine. That’s it.

Handset features
The stylish silver-and-black handsets are loaded with features, all of which are easy to access through the scrolling menus. These menus are displayed on a 3-line backlit LCD that is illuminated by a handsome neon-blue backlight. This LCD also displays both analog and digital clocks.

If you decide to add additional handsets for co-workers or family members, you will be able to conference call, transfer calls, or talk via intercom on the same system and phone line. To avoid confusing the extensions, the different handsets can be distinguished by varying the “sound effect” setting. These settings are accessed by a button on the handset’s face that adjusts the bass and treble of the tones. Meanwhile, each handset’s ringer can also be customized with one of 8 alerts. Or, if you’re in a meeting, you can set the handset to vibrate mode—a very uncommon feature for cordless phones.

Each handset’s LCD also displays its own 50-entry phone book and 50-entry Caller ID log. This means that you have to program (or erase) each entry individually, but it also means that each person can choose which 50 contacts they want in their directory. Separate logs for the last 10 numbers dialed are stored in each handset.

But perhaps the best feature of the handset is its speakerphone. At the press of a button, you can listen to voice mail (or music while you’re on hold) and free up your hands to get other things accomplished. You can also go hands free by plugging a headset into the built-in jack.

Base station features
One of the best features of the base station is that it has a full-duplex speakerphone, so you won’t have to alternate your conversations during calls. Meanwhile, the quality of sound output is excellent—both full and rich.

The base station is also equipped with a 15-minute digital answering machine. Messages can be checked remotely from any of the 3 mailboxes; unfortunately, if you are at home, you must listen to the messages from the base station, as the handsets cannot access them.

One unique feature of the base station is a built-in backup battery charger. This is especially useful if you have multiple handsets, as anyone can then replace a dead battery on the fly. Also, the base station will use this battery for power during a power outage.

Range and reception
Due to the interference found on the 2.4 GHz frequency—caused by wireless networks and other 2.4 GHz phones—many people are rushing to these phones. But unfortunately, this system only reduces this problem—it does not eliminate it. This system uses 5.8 GHz transmissions from the base to the handset, but the transmissions in the other direction are 2.4 GHz. The reason for this is to conserve battery power in the handset, as more energy is required to transmit on higher frequencies. So, because of this decision, you get a respectable 4.5 hours of talk time or 4 days of standby time from the handset’s NiMH battery. As for range, you should be able to walk about 200 yards away from the base station before a warning tone is sounded.

Final thoughts
Overall, this advanced phone provides a lot of functionality. You get 2 speakerphones, a digital answering machine, and numerous other features. And if you add additional handsets, you can create your own internal network. For $239.99, this system is a good deal for people who don’t need a second line, but require a system with some versatility.


What I Liked Best   What I Didn't Like
  • Clear calls
  • Excellent range
  • Digital answering machine
  • Expandable to 6 handsets
  • Full-duplex speakerphone
  • Good battery life
  • Not fully 5.8 GHz
  • Messages not accessible from handsets


*A lower-priced model without the answering machine is available for just $219.99. This model also has talking Caller ID.
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