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Panasonic's GigaRange KX-TG2224P (listed at $69.95) is one of the company's low-end 2.4GHz phones. It comes with neither the fancy talking caller ID found in some of its superiors, nor the unique splash- and shock-resistant design of the GigaRange upper crust. However, the KX-TG2224P (and its carbon copies, the KX-TG2224W and the KX-TG2224F) has two of the most important GigaRange options: Voice Enhancer technology, which gives you more control over audio quality, and an excellent digital answering machine, one of the better ones we've tested.
The KX-TG2224P's looks alone won't turn any heads. The compact body feels solid, but the control layout could stand some fine-tuning; losing the curved labels on the base would help. The backlit LCD is tiny and hard to read, and the buttons aren't terribly responsive, either. On the plus side, the handset is lightweight and has a built-in speakerphone, which worked well in our tests. The phone also has a headset jack (the headset isn't included) and ships with a shoulder-rest attachment.
The standout feature is the digital answering machine, which didn't let us down. It's easy to set up and use, and messages sounded crisp and clear. You can also slow down playback at the press of a button--helpful for jotting down important information. The 15-minute total recording time is a bit disappointing, though. And the base's LCD, like the handset's, is too small; it's close to the size of the playback button. The other functions are pretty standard: the phone supports caller ID and call waiting, stores up to 50 names and numbers, and lets you select from six ring tones. You can also set the date and time and choose between English and Spanish menus.
Call quality varied considerably in our tests. The phone tended to pick up a lot of background noise, and we heard a good bit of breakup over a short distance. On some occasions, callers sounded much crisper, but we still didn't get great range. We experienced better performance with the built-in speakerphone and when we used the Voice Enhancer, which simulates a band signal above and below the phone's normal bandwidth limitations.
While the audio didn't wow us, the battery life was impressive. It exceeded the 5-hour talk time by almost an hour and met the full 11 days of standby time. Beyond the long-lasting battery, nothing about this model is exceptional, but it's fairly inexpensive, and many online retailers are selling it for far less than the list price. So, if you're looking for a bargain on a basic phone, the KX-TG2224P isn't half bad.