Where is that pen and pad when you need it? Designed expressly for the kitchen, this white 900MHz model from General Electric comes with a built-in notepad, so you won't miss important messages. It also has a built-in kitchen timer, so you won't burn dinner while on a call. These are neat add-ons, but unfortunately, the phone itself isn't as well designed. We think $50 is a bit too much to ask.
The handset is sleek and light, and its earpiece is among the most comfortable we've tested to date. If you prefer to go hands-free, there's a headset jack on the handset and an included belt clip. Unfortunately, the ergonomics for the handset's keypad are a nightmare. The buttons have a soft membrane and sit almost flush to the surface. The alphanumeric, function, and control keys share the same small size and shape and are equidistant from each other, which makes it impossible to differentiate them by feel alone. While trying to manipulate the volume in the middle of a call, we often accidentally hit the talk button. The base has a separate three-volume ringer control, but you can't turn it off. Further complicating matters, the white-on-gray numbers and letters are difficult to read.
You can mount the rounded base on a wall, but it's a little deep and protrudes a bit, and writing on the slick pad surface adds undo pressure on the mount. And no matter how we positioned the base, the included pen stopped working after a few letters. You can store caller ID information for the last 40 calls, and the numbers are easily transferred into the 10-station memory. There's no answering machine on this model, so you'll have to buy one separately or subscribe to voicemail through your phone service.
The easy-to-use digital timer is a nice touch. There's also a counter in the display, and it chirps in a tone different from an incoming call to let you know the time is up. Unfortunately, the three-line LCD goes blank after a minute, making it difficult to monitor the countdown unless you hit the timer key again--but the display is hard to read head-on. While the base speakerphone is handy for chatting while doing chores, only one person can talk at a time. Note that there's no speakerphone in the handset.
Sound quality was good, not great, and we often experienced interference. The battery lasted about a week without recharging, which is in keeping with its rated time. The phone had excellent range, as good as most 900MHz models we've tested. Still, all things considered, if you want a kitchen phone, a pen, and a pad, we suggest you buy them separately.