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When we came to replace our cordless home phone a few months ago, I was more than happy to purchase another BT branded phone, having such a positive experience with our last BT model.
This BT Graphite 2100 was our phone of choice, as a basic, inexpensive and easy to use option. This is also available as a twin, triple and even four-pack of handsets - so you could potentially have a phone in almost every room in the house, without needing any extra wiring or additional phone sockets. Given that this is a cordless handset and with three kids to keep an eye on, I find a single handset to be sufficient for our needs!
This phone was very straightforward to set up, as all it required was that the two NiMH AAA rechargeable batteries (which come supplied) were inserted into the handset. The charging base needs to be plugged in to a mains supply as well as connecting to a phone socket. The manual recommends that the phone is given a full twenty four hour charge on its charging cradle before the first use, which is advice that we followed in the hope that the phone and batteries will perform as well as its predecessor.
The handset itself is fairly simple in design, being very slim and lightweight. I would prefer the phone to feel a little heavier as it so light, it does make me wonder whether this would be robust enough to withstand regular falls or general lack of care.
The simple shiny black handset contrasts nicely with the blue backlit screen although it's not the most exciting of appearances. The handset is perfectly functional but I'd prefer it to feel a little more substantial. I also find that the narrow handset is not the most ergonomically shaped design as it would benefit from a gentle curve to make it feel more secure in my hand.
Despite the slim design of the handset, the keys are fairly generously proportioned with a clear, straightforward layout, making it fairly intuitive to answer calls, dial numbers and access the other features. The keys feel comfortable to press and don't stick or miss numbers. Each press also gives off a reassuring tone too.
The charging unit is also very small and simple, far smaller than its predecessor, which is useful as this fits unobtrusively on the edge of the window sill. The phone line which comes supplied is very generous, as is the lead to connect this to an electricity supply. This length gives us a little more flexibility in terms of siting the charging base which is useful as our phone socket is some distance from our electricity sockets.
I find this phone to be incredibly clear during calls, thanks to the DECT technology it uses. There is never any interference, dips during calls or any fuzziness whatsoever, regardless of where I may be when taking a call. Even when using the hands free loud speaker function during a call, I find the speech to be clear and audible, without any issues. The microphone seems to be pretty good quality too, as the caller on the other line (usually my husband) never has any issues with hearing our voices and has never complained of any distortion or poor sound quality.
The range of the phone is pretty impressive, reputedly up to 300 metres outdoors and 50 metres indoors. Sadly, our 'estate' isn't quite that generously proportioned but the phone certainly covers the entire house, upstairs and downstairs, and is able to make and receive calls anywhere in the garden too.
As we have a single handset, this tends to remain on its charging cradle pretty much permanently. The phone is therefore permanently charged and ready to use with, allegedly, an impressive ten hours of talk time between charges. If inadvertently left off its holder, the handset seems to hold its charge well and has never failed to make or answer a call due to low charge.
The phone offers a choice of five ringtones and a volume selection from 1-5. Personally, I find the choice of ringtones to be pretty mediocre and find there is only one out of the five that I would consider to be suitable for a landline ringtone. All five of the tones are a little tinny, with almost a musical box quality. My main issue with the phone is that, even on the highest volume setting, the ringtone is frustratingly quiet. The ringer is activated on both the charging base and the handset but it is so quiet on the handset that sometimes I struggle to locate exactly where the ringing is coming from, if it's not on the base!
The base also has the option of 'paging' the handset, which is something I find very useful if I've mislaid the phone somewhere or one of the kids has been messing with it. (We find the phone in all sorts of random places, thanks to a very sociable toddler!) Luckily, the handset has a child lock button which needs to be held down for several seconds - something that my little one has yet to work out! Unfortunately, the paging tone of this set is incredibly quiet, which makes it very difficult to locate at times. If the handset is covered by anything or has managed to find its way down the back of the chair (something which is not at all uncommon), there is no way of finding it using the paging tone alone. If the phone is upstairs, there really is no hope that I'll be able to hear the tone downstairs which makes the feature almost useless.
The BT Graphite 2100 is a fairly basic cordless home telephone which suits our needs entirely. The 'special' features are those that are fairly standard across cordless phones including a phonebook 'memory' storing up to fifty numbers, which seems pretty generous. Despite mislaying the user manual, I found it fairly self-explanatory to add telephone numbers using the dedicated 'phonebook' button and the 'menu' button. The system works like many mobile phones, with numbers being typed and saved and the names added using the three letters allocated to each number button. Anybody familiar with the process of sending text messages on a mobile phone would be able to add names and numbers to the telephone book, without needing any extra guidance.
Accessing the saved numbers is also straightforward as the phone automatically saves the stored numbers in alphabetical order. It is possible to scroll through the numbers in the phonebook to access the correct number or, more usefully when a larger amount of numbers have been saved, type in the first letter of the name and the phonebook automatically jumps to that letter. I find this system so simple to use that I have actually been doing this rather than dialling the numbers directly, as I have always done on landlines before. This set up is far superior to systems where you have a dedicated 'hot key' number for particular people as I could never remember which number related to which person, so never tended to use it!
The other benefit of this feature is that the phone can display the names of people calling (providing the numbers have been added to the phonebook.) Unfortunately, this is only available to people who have subscribed to a Caller Display service from the landline provider. I'm not a BT customer (having switched to the Post Office home phone a few years ago) and don't have this service so I don't really get the full benefit of this feature. The phone does also keep a log of dialled and received calls, which can be useful at times.
We picked this up from Argos and paid just under £20 for a single handset. Currently this is selling for £24.99 at Argos and for £20.83 on Amazon, although I have seen this available for much less on both sites, so it might be worth biding your time or shopping around if possible.
As a functional and inexpensive home phone, this has proven to be a good buy overall. The features are straightforward to access and this performs well at making and receiving calls, with an excellent range and good call quality.
The only minor disappointment is that I don't find the ring tone to be loud enough for my preference and find the choice of tones available to be a little disappointing. These niggles aren't enough to prevent me from recommending this phone to other consumers, although I suspect it may be possible to purchase a similar phone with louder (and more appealing) tones for an equally reasonable price.