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Communications technology is advancing, and this is no more clearly illustrated than in the cordless home phone market. Much-loved features of the mobile phone are being brought into the home, and the Panasonic KXTG-8220 is an example of a device that's bridging this gap. One could say we're rather moving backwards by 'advancing' in the wrong order, but that's an opinion I leave for you to decide upon.
The 8220 is similar in specification to the 820X models of Panasonic's KXTG series, with the addition of an answering machine which can be controlled from the base station. I bought mine for £51 from Tesco, although this usually sells for nearer £70. For reference, SHOP.COM currently have it for £49.99.
Packaging. As expected, you get the phone, base station, AC and telephone cords, batteries, User Manual and Quick Start Guide in the retail pack. The packing is nothing special, but does an adequate job of keeping the unit safe.
Setup. This takes just a couple of minutes and is easily done without consulting the manual for anyone who's done this before. The AC and more importantly telephone cords are of a reasonable length, however note that the AC power jack takes some force to ensure it's seated correctly. I had to do this several times
before power flow was established. Batteries are inserted remote-control style into the phone, and are partially charged making the unit ready for immediate use. The link between phone and base is established automatically.
Features This is definitely one of the higher level home cordless phones. It's probably quicker to mention what it doesn't have in the way of features and capabilities. It doesn't support VoIP or have a SIM card reader, nor internet access. Other than that, pretty much anything you can want in a home phone is covered, oh apart from call recording. The most 'unique' features include night mode (ideal for shift workers or those with young children), call restriction and remote access to the answering machine from outside.
Design An important consideration when purchasing anything that will be used for long periods of time, and here the 8220 has both good and bad points. Visually the phone looks stylish, but the base looks big and a little clunky, more like one of those corporate switchboards. The handset has large buttons for the numeric keypad, but I think these may be too large for comfortable use. I found myself frequently dialling repeated numbers, as the keys are just too big for what you'd expect. Certainly, frequent texters or those used to smaller keys will find it hard to get accustomed to. Another disappointment is the very flimsy bracket that holds the phone to the base. It's all too easy to knock it off, so users may wish to place it out of the way to avoid this, which in turn rather negates the benefit of the answering machine being controlled from the base. The keys also feel plasticy, and will become hard to use after a while as sweaty fingers become an issue. You'll also need to frequently clean the handset to avoid unsightly fingerprints. One other major concern is the navigational joystick, which feels loose to the touch, and the four keys for controlling dial/hang up/speakerphone/clear. These are recessed into the phone and therefore they are quite hard to press, which I suppose could be argued was the point.
On the other hand, the software on the handset has a comfortingly familiar feel, at least to those used to mobile phones, and in particular the Symbian operating system frequently used on Nokia models. The concept of two 'soft keys' is used here, as well as graphical icons to represent feature status, voicemail, battery level and signal strength. The display is quite bright, although may be hard to read in direct sunlight.
Performance This is excellent, no doubt about it, and much better than the iDECT X1 I reviewed last month. There is no distortion of the sound, even when the phone is used at high volumes or on the speakerphone. Calls are clear, even when the phone is used away from the handset, e.g on the other side of the building or in the garden. Interestingly, and quite correctly in my view, calls will just drop when the signal level becomes too weak to maintain good sound quality, rather than gradually fading out with all the crackle and hiss that this entails. Don't worry, a warning beep is played when moving out of range.
Overall. This is a high level, high class phone from Panasonic that will suit either the home or office. A range of innovative and useful features, both functional and esthetic make this a good investment from a productivity point of view. I have some concerns with some of the design factors, particularly the weak base holder and the over-sized keys, but no doubt some folks would not find this too much of a deal.
Personally, this phone is more than I need, and the keypad just makes it too impractical. i'll be returning this tomorrow for a refund, and perhaps an exchange for a lower model or the Doro brand. Nevertheless, this still gets my recommendation for its superb call quality and on-board software functionality.