Swatch DECT Phone – Review

I’ll tell you a little story. I’m telling my better half “we need a cordless phone, for the garden and things”. She says: “oh no, they’re rubbish, my parents have one and it’s always whistling, crackling and stops working just outside the back door”. “But a DECT digital phone won’t be like that, they’re crystal clear and they work as far as the pub!”, “Oh rubbish, they always say that on the blurb.”.

Not one to be thwarted, I continued gentle pressure, then one fine day in the High Street, we wandered into a phone shop. Well I did. And I saw this. I dragged her in and said “look!”. She said “what is it?”. I explained. She said “we must have it.”

So there it is. This device is definitely the most elegant piece of telephony equipment I’ve ever laid eyes on. And the first I’ve drooled on. And you can get it in yellow, blue or traditional-but-boring black!

Yep, so it is very pretty. Some might think it looks a little, err, phallic. But I don’t. And being a DECT phone, one would expect it to (cough) perform, and it does pretty well. I did think that the speaker sounded a little hollow, and perhaps a bit quiet. I’ve got good ears and the Swatch sat on the third highest of it’s four settings. On the other hand, the transmitted speech is excellent and If I listened to someone who was using the Swatch, I couldn’t tell they were on a cordless. This remains the case all the way to the edge of the phone’s range, which in my case is as far as the pub (about 300 yards). So perfectly good for all but the landed gentry with a few acres.

A few annoying quirks, however. Firstly , and most incredibly since this is even a feature of £20 wired phones, it doesn’t have a backlight, even though the keys are transparent. Also, said keys lack letters for dialling people or services that use alpha numbers as found on mobiles, like 07000 DIALME. A bit shortsighted this, though I suppose the lack of letters was an aesthetic consideration.

The large, well-written manual contains an enormous range of options for ring tones, auto answering when lifted from the charger , which I liked, warning tones if you go out of/come back into range, showing call duration and the like. There are ten memories for frequently dialled numbers, and a facility for redialling any of the last three numbers you called. You can dial a number and check it on the screen before lifting the hook, but what I didn’t like was not being able to delete a mistakenly dialled key without waiting 30 seconds for the display to clear so you could start again.

Also available are myriad options for configuring your own switchboard system with up to six handsets logged to one base station, or even up to three base stations in a sort of mini-cell arrangement where you can roam from one to another dotted about a large site, though the system doesn’t switch between bases during a call like cellphones. Of course, internal calls can be made between handsets, even if a third is making an external call. Nice one, someone’s finally come up with a way of summoning coffee and paracetamol to the bedroom the morning after without the yelling downstairs part. You can even set up they system to ring the handset in the lounge first, and then if it’s not picked up, the handset in the bedroom will start ringing. A call can be transferred from one handset to the other too, just like an office switchboard.

Extra handsets cost £99, with a charger which can sit on top of the base station or separately. This is an excellent idea, meaning you could put the base station in the loft for maximum coverage. This would make paging the handset from the base a bit awkward, but another handset in the system would solve that.

My last slight grumble is that the function keys for accessing the menus and memories have pretty incongruous legends on them rather than words, so it might take time to learn what they do.

Ultimately, I love this thing. I think it looks at lest seven thousand times better than any other DECT phone, or any other phone come to mention it. Yes, it’s expensive, but a top-spec analogue cordless is about £140 and this is easily worth the extra wedge. Adding handsets is also a big plus. No more shouting “it’s your mother! pick up the phone NOW!!!” up the stairs – simply ring the other phone and pass the old bat over as quickly as possible. Now a Caller ID on the handset would be even better so you didn’t have to speak to her at all, that’s an idea….

Approximate Price £150.00 Available From Dixons

****UPDATE****
You can download a PDF version of the mail here… SWATCH DECT MANUAL

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