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When reviewing a cordless phone, it's all too easy to compare it to a mobile phone. We're all so used to our Nokias and Sagems with their picture-enhanced menu systems, caller display and large screens, so when a cordless phone with a screen comes along, it's a bit like fighting with a mid-90s Motorola. It's perhaps an unfair comparison, but then again, Binatone have made a point of including fascias with the phone, and have tried to include a haphazard phone book, so they obviously want us to take to their little MD-1500 in the same way.
The display on the MD-1500 is entirely LCD, and obviously not backlit, so it can be a little hard to read. Anyone who ever wrote 'boobies' on a calculator can probably understand the educated guesswork needed to decipher the menus. Phone book names are also limited to eight characters as a result. But it does the job, and if this is where Binatone had to cut a corner, I can forgive them. The menu system, used to set ring tones, volumes, etc, is a bit tricky, and it took my boyfriend quite a while to get used to recalling numbers.
However, this phone really shines as a budget digital cordless. The sound quality is outstanding. Occasionally I get an echo, but it's rare, and there is no interference or hissing. It's a worthy upgrade for anyone struggling with a noisy analogue that picks up Radio 5 if you stand behind the fridge.
The phone also looks the part, unlike most cheap DECT phones which frankly look ugly and cheap. It is silver with blue and grey interchangeable fascias (well, part-fascias anyway) and doesn't look out of place standing on top of a DVD player. The handset is small and chunky and comfortable to hold.
And bear in mind that this phone takes Ni-MH rechargeables - so you'll never find yourself with a working cordless with a worn-out battery that costs £20 to replace. If your batteries run out mid-call, just replace with fresh recharged batteries and call back! We've used Ni-Cad with no problems, although I wouldn't recommend charging the phone with Ni-Cad or normal AAs installed... you might end up with a melted phone.
The ring tone is soft and subtle, and there are various options available to add more handsets and link them to the base unit using the menu system. Although I have no use for that feature, I like to know I can add more units later if I need to.
If you're looking for a DECT phone and don't need to spend £150 to feel you're getting a decent model, look at the Binatone. It looks the part and does the job.