Panasonic has a few new DECT 6.0 cordless phones for 2009, including the KX-TG7400 series, which retails for less than $100 for a two-handset package. The main difference between this model and the popular KX-TG6400 series is a larger LCD: the 7400 series has a 2.1-inch LCD while the KX-TG6400 has a 1.8-inch LCD. Also, this model adds "Choice Mail" Selectable Voice Message (a form of visual voice mail) to an already strong feature set.
Here are some highlights and impressions we had of the series during our testing of the KX-TG7432, a two-handset model that features a digital answering machine in the base.
The Panasonic KX-TG7400 series keeps things simple and only comes in black, which is fine with us, though the glossy black finish on the base unit is a fingerprint magnet (the handsets themselves have a mostly matte finish). In terms of displays, the 2.1-inch LCD on this model is one of the biggest you'll find on a cordless phone and it should appeal to sight-challenged folks who don't want to squint to see numbers and anything else on the screen (the numbers appear quite large). It has a light-blue backlight that's activated when you touch the keys.
We liked the large, rubberized buttons (they, too, get the backlight treatment when pressed) and we found the user interface to be relatively straightforward and easy to navigate. Our one small gripe is that the top of the phone is made of shiny plastic and is prone to showing fingerprints and any oil from your face. This isn't a big deal, but you will find yourself having to wipe the phone every few days if you want to keep it clean.
For navigation, there are two hard buttons just underneath the screen that correspond to virtual commands on the display, as well as a five-way directional pad that allows you to scroll both horizontally and vertically through menu items and icons. All in all, we liked the design and appreciated the clearly labeled "talk," "off," and "speakerphone" buttons, which are clustered around the D-pad.
Unlike the 6400 series, which features multiple step-up and step-down models, the 7400 series keeps things simple as all three models in the line offer identical features. Highlights include talking caller ID, talking alarm clock, talking battery alert ("Please charge the phone"), call block, silent mode, four-way conference capability, handset-to-base intercom function, and ringer ID (you can attach various ringtones to contacts in your phone book).
The 7400 series does not feature a speakerphone or dialpad in the main base charging unit, but a speakerphone is built into the back of each of the handsets (it's a half duplex speakerphone, which is standard for these types of cordless phones).
The included rechargeable batteries are two 630mAh Ni-MH AAAs that provide approximately 5 hours of talk time and 11 hours of standby time. It takes 7 hours to fully charge the batteries.
The digital answering machine can store up to 18 minutes' worth of messages and any of the handsets registered to the system (up to six) can access the phone book, which allows you to store up to 50 names and numbers. You set up the answering machine, as well as retrieve any voice mails from the handset, not the base unit. A headset jack and belt clip are included if you want to go hands-free.