Next to your basic 900MHz cordless phone, the 2.4GHz Panasonic KX-TG2730S, listed at $160, looks like a heavyweight. Its formidable base and handsets are littered with controls, and the system can expand to include up to eight handsets. But does all that meat mean you'll get a better cordless chat?
Because of the KX-TG2730S's wealth of features, operating the phone can be challenging, even for the most demanding multitaskers. While it's nice to have conferencing and programming functions on the base, the haphazardly arranged controls are sorely in need of consolidation and color coding. The slightly concave, slender, silver-brushed handset is far easier to use and nicely constructed, and it features a particularly readable four-line backlit LCD. In addition to your standard keypad, you also get soft keys for thumbing through menu options and a rocker dial for adjusting volume. Another nice touch: A speakerphone is built into the back of each handset.
If you're looking for features, the KX-TG2730S won't disappoint. You can transfer a 50-number phone directory from one handset to another, keep an ear on your baby from other parts of the house using the room-monitoring feature, program up to six different ring tones, and hold a five-way conference call. You also get an all-digital answering machine with 15 minutes of recording time, a reception-booster feature that searches for the best signal if there's interference, a privacy option that prevents others from listening in on your tÃªte-Ã -tÃªtes, and up to three message mailboxes that you can even access remotely. This phone also has countless extras; for example, the slow-motion playback on the answering machine is especially nifty.
In our tests, this Panasonic performed better than other cordless phones in its class. Callers sounded crisp and clear, and we experienced minimal interference. This phone isn't a high ranker when it comes to talk time, though. It petered out at around three hours, although it's rated to last five. If you're going to be on the phone for a long time, we recommend turning off the booster feature. The rated battery life with that feature on hovers at around three and a half hours, though for us it lasted just over two.
While battery life could be better, this phone's features alone make it an excellent pick for families and small businesses. And since it's priced at less than $200, you can afford to buy all eight additional handsets, which cost $99.95 each.