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AT&T 5800 review: AT&T 5800

The Good Transmits and receives on the 5.8GHz frequency; built-in speakerphone; excellent audio.

The Bad Small phone book; headset sold separately.

The Bottom Line Wi-Fi-friendly and flexible, this expansion handset for the AT&T 5840 system offers pristine audio and outstanding features.

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7.6 Overall

The 5800, an add-on handset for AT&T's 5.8GHz 5830 and 5840 cordless phone systems, has the same crystal-clear audio and robust feature set you'll find in its parents. But at a list price of $79.95, it's a little on the pricey side.

The 5800's blue-tinted backlit screen and keypad, in addition to its smooth, silver styling, make it stand out from the lower-frequency crowd. However, its nub antenna doesn't match its sophisticated, high-tech look; we wish it were built into the unit instead. While the phone feels solid in your hand, it doesn't fit very well between your head and your shoulder, so for longer chats, you'll probably want to use a headset. By the way, AT&T doesn't include one in the box, so you'll have to buy it separately.

This phone's feature set mirrors that of most mobiles. You can set the time, choose from eight different ring tones and a vibrate mode, monitor battery life and range from the LCD, and adjust the sound with a side volume key. You can transfer calls between handsets and make intercom calls, but you can't share the meager 50-entry phone book (most cordless systems can handle closer to 100 names and numbers) among handsets or globally tweak the time or the caller-ID information. You'll have to program this add-on separately from the main base unit, which is a bit of a letdown since we know of several lower-tech 2.4GHz models that let you make universal changes.

In our Wi-Fi testing environment, the 5800 performed just like its parents. We got pristine audio--arguably better than what we experienced with the other 5.8GHz phones we've tested to date--and good distance. Callers sounded crisp and clear even when we chatted using the built-in speakerphone. The Sound Select function offers four different settings for adjusting the audio quality during a call--a nice touch. However, using this feature a lot can drain battery life.

Speaking of battery life, the 5800's is solid, even though the phone has a quoted standby time of only five days--less than its competitors, whose rated times average eight days. In our tests, the 5800 came up a little short at just longer than four days. The device also didn't make it to the rated eight-hour talk-time limit, missing by an hour.

While we wish the price would come down some, the 5800 makes a great add-on to the 5840, and registering it to the mothership couldn't be easier.

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