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Uniden DCT5280 review: Uniden DCT5280

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The Good Attractive; loads of features; you can use any two handsets as two-way radios; expandable to up to four handsets.

The Bad Complicated menus and setup; average battery life.

The Bottom Line Be prepared to consult your manual to squeeze the most out of the occasionally complicated--but cool--DCT5280.

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7.6 Overall

If you're in the market for an expandable cordless system, take a look at Uniden's DCT5280, which has a list price of $99.99. This 2.4GHz cordless package supports up to four DCX520 handsets on one jack (the handsets are listed at $89.99 each). The DCT5280 also features DirectLink technology, which enables you to use any two handsets as two-way FRS radios--handy for those times when you're at the store and you've left the grocery list at home.

Menu navigation can be tough at times, but Uniden partially made up for the phone's unintuitive setup by packing it full of features. You get a speakerphone on the base and on each handset, a choice of eight ring tones and melodies, handset-to-handset call transfer, handset personalization settings, and an integrated answering system with 12 minutes of recording time. In addition, the phone offers a very readable four-line backlit LCD, three language options (English, French, and Spanish), a 100-number phone book, and caller ID with call waiting.

Setting up the DCT5280 was a tad more difficult than necessary (we had to consult the manual to register our second handset, which insisted on being known as Handset #1). Overall, however, we had few complaints about the system's performance. Even in our challenging LAN-based testing environment, we were able to get good distance with minimal breakup. We didn't get quite the same call quality from the second handset, but it wasn't horrible. Speaking of the additional handsets, it's a cinch to make global setup tweaks and tailor each handset's features.

Battery life was average. The phone held on for the rated 14-day standby time (which drops to a mere 24 hours if you're using the DirectLink mode), but it fell shy of the rated 7-hour talk time, giving out at just more than 5 hours. Note that if you activate the phone's Clarity Booster feature, which did decrease interference slightly in our tests, talk time is rated at 5 hours.

All told, we like the look and feel of this phone, and the price is right. But reader, beware: Setting up and using this phone has its trying moments. If Uniden simplified the menu navigation, we'd endorse the DCT5280 even more.

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