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After years of experiencing the usual problems associated with analogue cordless phones like line interference, crackle, hiss etc., I decided to upgrade my old analogue cordless phone and invest in a DECTS phone. As DECTS are cordless, this allowed me to retain the mobility and freedom I associated with my old analogue cordless. So, it was goodbye old analogue (South western Bell) and hello to my new cordless DECTS Philips Onis 200 Duo. However, before I came to my final decision of the Philips Onis 200 Duo (twin pack) I bought two other DECTS cordless phones; NTL D5103 (4 –pack) and the Cable and Wireless CWD3902 Micro Cordless TAM (Triple Pack)as they seemed better value for money considering the number of sets I was getting. I will briefly mention those as a comparison so you will have a better idea of what to expect from the Philips Onis DECTS cordless phone.
DECTS (that’s Digitally Enhanced Cordless telecommunication) is digital it gives superb call clarity with a crisp, clear, and secure communication void of any crackles. I often had crackles and hiss on my old analogue cordless often making me switch over to my standard corded (fixed) phone which did give clear reception but limited my freedom to move around in the house. As DECTS is cordless, this allows me to retain the mobility and freedom I associated with my old analogue cordless whilst increasing the roaming range. DECTS phones give an operating range of 300m this is ideal for roaming indoors and outdoors without the need of always running inside the house to answer the phone (when I’m busy waxing my car…and need to conserve my energy!) Security and band interference is much better too (so no more punters dropping in and listening to conversations – usually amateur radio enthusiasts!). My aim was to find clarity, security, and freedom with a DECTS phone.
BUYING CRITERIA and comparison to other DECTS cordless phones I bought before the Philips Onis 200 Vox Duo:
My aim was to buy a cordless DECTS phone with or without an answer machine. I thought if it had an answer machine, it should have a call recording time of at least 12 minutes or I’d not bother with it all; considering BT’s free 1571 answer service will do the basic job just as well. The other criteria were that I wanted at least two phones, so a twin set/ duo was the minimum. Looking at prices a DECTS single cordless can start for as little as £35 whilst you can also get a set of four (quad pack) with answer machine for £149.99 or less if it’s Binatone –hence my first choice of NTL D5103 which used to retail at £199.99 in Dec 2002 but currently its gone down to £149.99. After getting the NTL DECTS set home I was unimpressed with the build quality and felt the features such as name memory was not sufficient for our needs. The second DECTS phone I bought was a triple set; Cable and Wireless CWD3902 photo but when I got it home it was just too plasticy and too tiny, about the size of a mobile, plus I had other installation problems with it which I’ll compare with the Philips Onis Duo (cost £139.99). Lastly, a big factor of having multi-DECTS handsets these days is you DON’T need an extra phone socket, and you can have as many handsets as you want (well, usually up to 8) all that’s needed is a power point!
I have had
Pictures of Philips ONIS200
Philips Onis 200 DECT VOX Answerphone (in Silver)
the Philips Onis Duo phone about a year this has given me sufficient time to tell you:
a) whether it is a reliable and sturdy phone b) establish whether it was a good buy and still up to date with competition (*considering how fast technology moves these days!)
*Updated new model: Philips Onis Vox 300
Just to prove my latter point on technology Philips have already got an update model to the Onis 200 Vox Duo called the Philips Onis Vox 300 –don’t worry though it is identical in function to the Onis 200 product –the only difference being the 300 has SMS text messaging. You will still currently find both the Philips Onis 200 Vox and 300 Vox Duo for sale.
Unlike the Cable & Wireless DECTS set I bought earlier where I had installation problems as the base did not recognise the handset and wouldn’t let me register it –I had no such problems with the Philips. The set consists of two parts the base station which house the answer machine and shows an on/off indicator and the handset. The phone uses two AAA NiMh rechargeable batteries which slide in easily into the handset. After the base station is connected to mains and the telephone cord into plugged into a phone socket all that’s required is charging the handset for at least 12 hours, I left mine overnight. The other handset just requires a power point, no phone socket –which I plugged in upstairs. Both were fully charged and registered ready to use with no problems.
ERGONOMICS -see Ciao photo-it is correct one.
On first appearances you immediately get the feeling this is a quality built product…its feels sturdy and solid weighing in at 120g, has real buttons with a rubber feel rather than plastic. The buttons are big enough for your fingers so you are not pressing the next key by mistake as with some phones (like the tiny Micro Cable & Wireless sets for example) The handset looks clean, simple and professional; mine is a silver matt finish, though at times looks bronze, it is not a shiny matt silver like the Cable & Wireless. It’s also available in Black/Blue finish. One feature that sets this DECTS phone apart from the others is the 3-line LCD display which is large and clear, most DECTS phones have 2-line display. Only the Philips Zenia has a 4-line display –though that’s a voice activated phone. The display makes it very easy to operate the menu button which you just scroll up and down using the arrow keys at the top of the phone. The On/Off is designated by a white button all the rest of the keys are dark grey.
Philips –5/5 Cable& Wireless –3.5/5 NTL-3/5 (looks like a tv remote control!)
RECEPTION AND CALL QUALITY
One of the reasons I chose Philips over other brands is their claim of crystal clear call quality which they call Crystal Clear Sound system otherwise known as CS2. They claim to use some fast antennae technology which integrates the base and the handset –which means the handset selects the best antenna to give you the best reception. I don’t know how it works, but can tell you it works! Obviously there will be some geographical variation and depending on where you house your base station is important but compared to what I had before, this is brilliant. The only minor gripe I have is that I don’t think the dial tone is loud enough…but maybe I’m going deaf!
Philips – 5/5 (Cable & Wireless and NTL –did not own long enough to give a useful diagnosis on call quality.)
Key Features and ease of use
This phone does everything it has an exhaustive set of features and whilst it may be useful to know most of the features it will be too long to list here so please refer to the Philip’s manual or manufacturer website for a complete list. I will mention a few I use the most. The phone is very easy to customise with giving each handset a name and assigning different ring-tones to each handset, the ring tones included also have a guitar melody. One of the most convenient features is this phone hardly ever needs charging, its battery seems to last forever and ever, I guess this will depend on how much you use it, but on average unlike my other cordless phone this is a huge improvement. It has 240 hours (that’s 10 days!!) standby time and 15 hours talk time.
Another feature important to me was the large phone memory-most BT phone seems to store 10 –40 names but this Philips stores up to 150 names in two phone books, that’s right you can have a ‘shared’ phone book which allows 100 numbers–once you enter a number to store it asks you whether you want it shared or ‘private’ if you say shared it will automatically appear on all the handsets in the house you have registered. If you chose to keep your numbers private then the number will only appear on the handset you have added it. You also have an added option of choosing what type of entry it is e.g. Friends, family, business etc or can just leave it as normal.
The answer machine part is phenomenal it really is, when I play back the messages the voices are so clear it feels the people leaving the messages are right here in my room! It’s crystal clear. I used to have problems with my old analogue answer machine on a fixed corded phone I had whereby I’d have to try and decipher each message as it would sound distorted.
Another plus point apart from call clarity is that the out-going message on the answer phone is customisable and you are not stuck with a pre-recorded message, though there is one there should you wish to keep it. You can also leave an out-going message only and take no incoming calls if you so wish. There are 2 modes of call quality on the answer machine if you want high quality recording its around 15 minutes, if you want standard quality its 30 minutes, both are still very clear. You can also retrieve your messages when you’re not at home by using a remote function, you just key in a 4 digit code and call home if you’re away. The only thing I would like to improve on the answerphone is when you playback messages it only tells you the day and time of the call, not the date! Another useful feature is you can record telephone conversations could be useful especially with Sales calls and promises from Call centres etc!
Oh, and for those of you that use dictaphones or leave post-it notes stuck all over the house -check this! You can record your own 'local Memo' to remind yourself or others perhaps of things to do or whatever you really want to use it for. I thought that was a neat feature -only discovered it a few days ago!
Other features I use daily is the intercom which means I can call other handsets and talk free of charge. One can also add pre-fixes before numbers useful if you use a lot of telecom operators like me and know one is cheaper say for calling USA daytime and another is cheaper for calling India anytime, all are stored according to time, type (national, international etc), you can also get Caller Identification if you use that service from your Telecom provider and assign different melodies to each person –I don’t use this. Lastly one function I didn’t know was on this phone is a “babysit mode” which means you can have one handset that works like a monitor whereby you can hear your baby’s sounds to do this you have to use the intercom and call that handset and then you will hear the sound in that room, its not a constant on function though. Also, any phone in babysit mode will not ring and stays silent; it only shows a flashing phone sign on the LCD display. This is a bonus for me as I keep my upstairs phone in this mode to prevent baby waking up. This is just an extra it’s not the highlight of the phone and can easily be switched back to normal.
1.The only thing I wish this phone had is a back light so I can see the display and keys in the dark.
2.Also just a minor niggle I wish the call volume was a little louder.
3. I also find a slight delay after pressing the buttons to make a call, but I think this is due to constant mobile use that.
4. Answer machine only tells day and time of call not date.
Other than those minor niggles I can't find anything to fault this phone apart from the price but then you get a quality product.
Warning-As with any battery operated cordless phone please make sure you also have a standard fixed line phone incase of battery failure which you can use in case of emergency.
Overall, I say this is an excellent phone with super call clarity and solid quality build, recommended, maybe not as good value for money as some of the triple or quad packs as this is only a twinset but it is a quality performer with a SUPERB clear Answering Machine, hence the 4 star rating rather than 5.
Update 2005. 18 Months after writing this review, the only problem I've had is some of the buttons need to be pushed hard to work. Also theres aHUGE drop in price of digital phones for example, a quality digital handset with answerphone like this phone's replacement the Philips ONIS 300 Vox Duo answerphone with 2 handsets is currenty on offer at Argo at £66.33. Cat No. 551/5882 P.S. If you're undecided which DECTS phone to buy why not buy one from Argos you have up to 16 days to try it and return it if it's not what you expected.
2007 UPDATE : After 4 years of constant use the on/off button has lost its sensitivity and doesn't work, the answermachine however is still one of the best on the market not only in terms of recodring time (30 minutes) but in terms of clarity of speech recorded. I've just bought another Philips DECT twinhandset SE 625 with answermachine, however although its range of features are far better than this, e.g colour screen, sms etc the quality of recording on the answermachine is not as superior as this ONIS series.
Price disclaimer -Argos may not be the cheapest place to make your final purchase (though you can use Nectar vouchers to redeem against products), shop around, haggle!