Uniden has long been known by consumers to provide digital and electronic devices that rival the big boys in features, style and design, but with a price tag that is a bit more manageable for the average consumer. With this lower price, however, there does appear to be a bit of a compromise on quality of operation.
I recently acquired a Uniden 2.4GHz Digital Multi-Handset Cordless Telephone and Answering System. Uniden has advertised that this system is upgradeable to 8 separate handsets and charging bases, with the main base including a handset charger and digital answering machine.
The positive features of this phone system include: a speakerphone with a keypad separate from the handset for hands free, speaker communication; a digital answering machine with easy to navigate button controls for replaying message, deleting messages, and storing/saving messages; handset message retrieval and remote message retrieval; caller ID handset display and call waiting ID capability; two handsets came with the package as well as one additional charging base for the second handset; speed dialing settings; a choice of ring settings and volume control; special ring indicators; security settings, and much more.
With an average retail price for this two handset base model hovering around $69.99 for the complete package mentioned above, I was thrilled with the value of this product. Then I took the product home and began the set up process and that was when I discovered a few things about the Uniden phone system I’d just purchased that wasn’t all that great.
The first thing that I noticed was a sticker on the back of the base unit, which read: “This product contains one or more reused parts that have been tested to meet specifications for new parts. MADE IN CHINA” (see picture with article)
Okay, well, hum. I hadn’t actually thought I was buying a used phone, and while I’ll concede that the phone itself was not used, there was no indication on the packaging or by the sales staff at the store where I purchased this phone that there were used or refurbished parts on this phone system.
The second thing I noticed was that the base unit does not sit flat. It is curved on the bottom, and actually appears to be made to be mounted on the wall. Even so, with the curve to the base, when I attempted to attach it to the jack on the wall, the phone still has a wobble to it when you go to pick up the handset. So upon reading the manual, I realized there was supposed to be a plastic base that attaches to holes in the back of the base unit, allowing it to sit flat on a desk or table. There was no plastic base in the packaging.
So, while the Uniden model didn’t make the best of first impressions on me, I did find that I really liked the sleek look. The handset is small, relatively lightweight, and properly curved to fit in your hand. The silver and black design is modern and attractive, and overall, the unit looks expensive.
The features on the unit that I mentioned above were impressive and rivaled those of Uniden’s more expensive competitors. However, the navigation on the handset display for using these features is a little awkward. For example, to view the caller ID history requires the user to push a button labeled CID, then select OK, and then move the arrow keys in order to review the list of missed calls. One button caller ID viewing would have been much more practical, since that is likely one of the most used features on telephones today.
After I had the phone set up, entered my area code information, changed the display on the handsets to show my name, I was ready to record my first outgoing message. After three tries, the outgoing message on the answering machine still sounded garbled and as though I was in a well, speaking from a distance. Apparently, the quality of the mic on the base unit, which is used for both the speakerphone feature and the answering machine outgoing message, is not the best quality. I was able to record an outgoing message by using the handset instead, and the quality on that recording was much better.
However, the answering machine problems don’t end there. When an incoming caller leaves a message on the answering machine, that message is slightly garbled. It is difficult to understand. The speakerphone is really a joke, as it is nearly impossible to carry on a conversation while using it.
Now, none of these issues really made me wish I hadn’t purchased the phone. This last issue that I’ll discuss, though, really would have been a deal breaker had I known beforehand. The range on the Uniden 2.4Ghz Digital Multi-Handset answering system from the base to the handset is severely limited. I have had many cordless phone systems in my life, and this one has the single worst range of any I have ever used.
From the base, which is free and clear of any interference, sitting on my desk in my living room, I have a very clear signal to the handset, provided I stay only in my living room. If I walk into my hallway, bathroom, kitchen, or even on my front porch, there will be static on the line, and if I proceed any further, such as into my bedroom or onto my sidewalk, I will actually lose signal with the base unit, and thus lose the call.
This is not only aggravating, but it is very inconvenient, because, while there is no cord, this almost defeats the purpose of having a cordless handset phone!
In final analysis, the Uniden 2.4Ghz Digital Multi-Handset phone is a decent value. The V-Tech phones offer similar features with a similar price and do not seem to have some of the issues that I found with the Uniden models. However, for another $50-75 dollars, there are other models with the same features, better sound quality, and new parts. It really comes down to that old clichÃ?Â©, “You get what you pay for.” If money is an issue, the Uniden model is not a bad choice, but based on my personal experience, if you can afford to shell out a little more, you’ll probably be better off purchasing one of the more mainstream brands.