Buyer’s Guide to New & Used Cordless Phones

Cordless telephones offer several benefits, but also have some disadvantages. Benefits of cordless phones include that they can easily be moved from one room to another, they are safer to use during a thunderstorm, and they often have built-in features such as answering machines or caller ID units. On the other hand, it is easier for others to listen in on your telephone calls with a police scanner or multiband radio, the rechargeable batteries have to be replaced on occasion (usually not more than once every few years), and many of them won’t function during a power outage. You may decide that it is best to use a cordless phone for most calling, but keep a standard telephone for communicating private information and using during power outages.

Most cordless phones have two antennas, one on the receiver and another on the base unit. The antennas may be single-section and rubber-coated or telescoping aluminum. Metal telescoping antennas are most common on older phones, and are more commonly installed on the base unit than the receiver. While telescoping antennas can be retracted when not in use to save space, and may have a preferable appearance, they are more likely to be broken than the more common rubber coated type. Three older cordless phones which have telescoping antennas on the handset are the ATC Deco-Tel, Radio Shack ET-300, and Sony SPP-22. If the base unit’s telephone cord is built-in, this poses another risk, as it cannot easily be replaced if the wire is torn or the plug on the other end is accidentally broken.

You should determine what type of batteries the telephone’s handset uses before buying it. Ni-Cad (Nickel Cadmium) rechargeables are usually somewhat cheaper to replace than NiMh (Nickel Metal Hydride), but are available in fewer stores. In many areas, nickel cadmium batteries can only be found at Radio Shack stores, while Ni-mh batteries are sold at many grocery stores and other locations. Some cordless phones use non-standard batteries; in this case you may want to determine if the batteries are still available before purchasing the phone, especially if it is an older or discontinued model. The Siemens 2430 and Panasonic KX-TCD410ES use standard “AA” or “AAA” rechargeable batteries.

A few features to look for on cordless phones are volume controls (both for the ringer and the speaker), a re-dial button, and speakerphone. Everyone doesn’t have the same level of hearing, so purchasing a telephone with volume controls makes it more likely to be suitable. A re-dial button lets the telephone automatically dial the last number you called. A speakerphone feature would be useful if you occasionally have telephone conversations which more than one person would like to be involved in. Some expensive cordless phones have more than one receiver (handset), so you can keep them in different rooms of your house without purchasing multiple base units or installing a phone jack in each room. There are also a few partially cordless phone systems, in that they have one corded receiver attached to the base unit, as well as one or more removable cordless receivers. One example of this type of unit is the Siemens 8825, which also has a speakerphone, caller ID, and other features.

Many cordless phones are produced by such brands as Sony, Panasonic, Casio, Uniden, Phonemate, AT&T, and Toshiba. They have also been manufactured by some smaller electronics brands like Coby and VTech. Cordless telephones can be purchased at electronics stores, department stores, internet auction services, online shopping websites, and some yard/garage sales.

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