What to look for
Most cordless phones include an LCD screen (colour screens are now available), caller ID, redial, and call waiting as standard features. Most will also include what’s called a “pager” button. This button is located on the base station or charging dock and pressing it sounds an alarm on the phone. This is an ideal feature when the phone is misplaced around the house, or in the backyard, as it offers a quick and easy way of locating its whereabouts. Phones may also offer out of range warnings in case you wander too far from the base station.
Other features that you should look for are ringtones, a phone book and a hands-free speakerphone. A current cordless phone should offer at least five ringtones, though many offer up to 20 or more. Be sure to check the volume of the ringer on the phone, as ringtones that are too soft in volume can pose problems in large households. The handset should also have a phone book, with a minimum of 15 or 20 entries. This allows you to store commonly dialled phone numbers. Finally, be sure to check if the phone has a hands- free speakerphone. This allows you to have a conversation without holding the phone to your ear, which may be ideal when cooking or cleaning around the home.
If you have a large house, you may need more than one cordless phone. Many phones can have up to four or five handsets linked together. Some can be purchased separately, while others are bundled together in a sales package. Be sure to check that the phone supports multiple handsets as you may need to purchase one at a later date. Also, some cordless phones come with an answering machine as one of their features. This bumps up the price of the handset considerably, so if you don’t need one, then be sure to let the sales assistant know this.
An often-overlooked issue is a backlit keypad, which is a blessing for night-time calls. Not all cordless phones have a backlit keypad, so check this before you buy. Finally, don’t throw out your ordinary wall-mounted phone either. Cordless phones run on power, so keep one on hand in case you are ever without power for an extended period of time.