Telephones buying guide

These days, home telephones and mobile phones have a wealth of features to help you communicate faster and more easily. If you want to upgrade your phone you might find buying a digital cordless model a wise choice. You’ll experience less crackle and keep within earshot of hearing the phone ringing – especially if you’re at the bottom of the garden!

Digital telephones and answer phones

Digital technology has made the home telephone a more sophisticated machine, with a clearer sound and additional features. Many of the digital phones we sell are cordless, and some incorporate an answer phone.

What’s the difference between digital and the (older) analogue phones?

As with analogue phones, digital phones still transmit on a radio frequency but suffer from less interference. Conversations are clearer and their range is usually wider. They’re sometimes referred to as DECT phones, which stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.

Up to what range do they operate?

Most models operate up to 300m outdoors and 50m indoors, so you can use them, for example, in the garden. Factors including the weather and any physical obstacles, may reduce their effectiveness.

What extra features can you get on them?

Lots! The most useful benefit is that you can use up to 4

handsets from the same base unit; for example, use one phone in the hallway, another in the bedroom, etc. You still have the base unit, which connects to the phone socket, but the other handsets just need to run off a mains socket.

Most digital phones are also ‘GAP compatible’, which means you can use any compatible handset with any base unit: e.g. a Panasonic GAP handset will work with a BT GAP compatible unit.

What’s the benefit of a digital answering machine?

Again, you have improved sound quality and faster retrieval speed, but you also don’t have to bother with a tape. Often they come with a pre-recorded message if you’re not keen on recording your own!

What about video phones?

These let you make video calls via broadband to other video phones. You view the caller on a small screen, though you’ll only receive a picture if they have a video phone or a PC with a web cam.

Our telephones

Digital cordless phones
Corded phones
Answer phones


Additional handsets

Extra DECT phones you can use around the home. These are not plugged into a phone socket but link cordlessly to the main base station.

Built-in speakerphone

Lets you talk on the phone without picking up the handset

Caller display

Providing the caller doesn’t bar their details, you can see their name and number if they’ve been stored in your directory.

Caller memory

Store names and numbers and recall them easily so you don’t have to dial them again

Call log

Records incoming calls so you can recall them quickly. Some phones list outgoing calls too

Call screening

Listen to the message via loudspeaker before deciding whether to pick up the phone

Call timer

View how long in seconds the call is lasting

Call waiting

Alerts you to another person trying to call you. This is a service provided by the network (often chargeable – check with provider) and the phones need to be compatible.


Most two-way radios have between 5-10 channels, which are the frequencies the radios operate on. Similar to tuning a radio you select a channel for the best reception – or so you don’t pick up other people’s radios.

Conference calls

Some phones have a two-line capacity, meaning you could use both lines for a three-way conversation.


DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) is a digital wireless technology which is now being adopted increasingly worldwide. Its key benefits are high speech quality with less interference and increased range

GAP compatible

You can use more than one phone from the same base station – e.g. have one phone in the hallway, another in the bedroom, etc. Any GAP compatible handset will work with any base unit – e.g. a Panasonic GAP handset will work with a BT GAP compatible handset


Allows you to talk on the phone without picking up the handset.

Hot keys/speed dialling

Store important or frequently dialled numbers and recall them by simply dialling a short code (e.g. *1 instead of the whole number or even a single button on the phone).

Internal call function

You can make internal calls to another handset operating off the same number – even when another handset is being used for an external number.

Last number redial

At the touch of a button you can automatically redial the number. Useful when the line is engaged.

Mute button

Allows you to speak to other people in the room in private without the caller hearing.

Page button

For use with multiple handsets operating off the same number. At the touch of a button you can alert another person or find a missing handset!


Some cordless phones have a range of up to 300m from the base unit, meaning you can use them outdoors.

Recording time

Maximum length of time answerphone message will be recorded.

Remote access facility

Lets you listen to your answerphone messages if you’re away from home via another phone.

Ring tones

You can personalise your phone with a choice of tones. There’s a host of websites and services that let you customise your phone with the latest hit or favourite theme tune. (There is a charge for this).


Software that allows you to make calls over the Internet.


The time the phone can be left off the charger (when not in use) before needing a recharge.

SMS capable

You can send text messages from your phone to another SMS phone.

Talk time

This is how long you can use the cordless phone for, once it’s been fully charged.

Two-way radios

Most have a range of up to 2 miles, depending on any physical obstructions. Many models have an alert signal to warn you when the reception is becoming weak.

Voice Dialling

Voice dialling feature lets you make a phone call by saying a voice ‘tag’ that’s been linked to the desired phone number. The ultimate in hands-free operation, you can simply utter a name or number and the phone automatically makes the call.


(Voice over Internet Protocol) A phone that operates via the internet and not via the conventional telephone socket.