VTech tz 2551
Almost every state has a free, opt-in "do not call" service, which renders moot the primary feature of the VTech TZ2551 cordless phone system. The phone offers a digital-spread-spectrum cordless phone with a built-in, three-mailbox digital answering machine in the base station, but it's hard to overlook its many flaws.
This phone's main selling point is the TeleZapper feature. TeleZapper emits a signal that tells predictive-dialing computers (which just dial numbers sequentially until someone answers) that your number is disconnected. Since our test lines are doubly protected by both the New York "do not call" list and by caller ID blocking, we could not test TeleZapper's effectiveness. Regardless, TeleZapper is more gravy than it is a reason to buy this model.
Although the box reads "2.4GHz," the TZ2551 is actually a hybrid phone. The 2.4GHz is used only for your end of the conversation, from the handset to the base. Your caller's voice travels from the base to the handset using the more interference-prone 900MHz bands, although neither our Wi-Fi setup nor the nearby microwave oven seemed to cause any undo interference.
We're not particularly fond of the TZ2551's silver-and-black design, but it's not hideously ugly either. The keys are well spaced but aren't backlit, while the LCD has only a faint, pea-soup-green backlight that rendered the dim type in the three-line display difficult to read. As with many upright phones, the handset sits uneasily in the charger and is prone to being accidentally dislodged.
But this phone's worst ergonomic feature is the 1.5-inch, hard rubber antenna on both the base and the handset. For some reason, the antenna's tip comes to a rather sharp point, making it especially dangerous and painful if you somehow hit your ear with it when bringing the handset to your head. This is definitely not a phone for a home with young children.
As with most modern cordless phones, you get call-waiting caller ID, assuming you subscribe to this service from the phone company. The phone holds as many as 99 names and numbers in its internal caller ID memory (most phones only store about 50 numbers), 40 names and numbers in its phone book, and 10 speed-dial numbers. The digital chip can hold 15 minutes of messages, but there's no way to limit the length of an incoming message. A caller can spend as long as 4 minutes rambling. The machine cuts people off only if there's just 30 seconds left on the chip.
Sound quality is below average, rather tinny and buzzy. The VTech TZ2551's range fell well short of that of other 2.4GHz phones we've used--barely 50 feet--probably because of its hybrid nature. We got most of the rated and above-average six-hour talk time and a bit more than the below-average six-day standby time.