MagicBox Touch 100
The MagicBox Touch is one of a new wave of DECT phones looking to set itself apart from the pack by offering up a unique design feature. As you can likely guess from the name, this phone features an entirely touch-sensitive fascia in place of the traditional - and, it has to be said, entirely functional - keypad.
MagicBox’s biggest success with the Touch is its styling – it’s a beautiful bit of kit that’s following the en vogue trend of piano-black finish and smooth, curved corners with a nice metallic detail. When inactive, the Touch’s keypad is completely invisible, rendering it monolith-esque in looks with nothing but the diminutive two-tone screen and MagicBox logos visible on both the phone and its dock. Though there is an unnervingly bright blue standby light, which may be a little annoying on, say, your bedside table.
Receive a call though, and it’s all change as the whole things lights up in a ridiculously pleasing icy blue glow revealing a standard number layout, navigational directions and that slightly underwhelming display. Features include a 60-contact phonebook, 20-number call log, ten polyphonic ringtones and caller ID. There’s also intercom and speakerphone functionality.
In use the MagicBox is great to look at and call quality is perfectly decent if a little muffled in comparison to some of the phones on test. But the real issue unfortunately came with the touchscreen. Like most mobiles before it that have opted this route from a purely aesthetic point of view, the simple truth is that a touchscreen is rubbish in comparison to the trad keypad. We found ourselves accidentally cutting people off, upping the speaker volume or pressing random keys with our (admittedly large) ears during calls, or else struggled to hit the right keys in order when dialling numbers, which made using the MagicBox more of a chore than a pleasure.
Siemens Gigaset SL565
Yet another phone jumping on the 1980s-inspired black and silver style wagon, the SL565 comes complete with organic curves, clean styling and the most mobile-phone esque appearance we’ve yet encountered. Alongside it sits a secondary all-black unit that houses a digital answer machine with the capacity for 35 minutes of messages – more than adequate for the home.
Although a style statement, we reckon the SL565 is more suited to an office environment thanks to its smorgasbord of features and expandability, with up to six handset able to operate from the one base-station. Of its myriad features, the most prominent is the inclusion of Bluetooth so you can use it with a remote Bluetooth headset leaving your hands free to do whatever they need to, be it washing up or writing reports.
Then there’s the SMS texting function, good sized 65,536-colour screen, vibrating alarm, polyphonic ringtones and an expansive 250-entry telephone book holding home, work and mobile number for each contact alongside email address and other info. Heck, you can even pick and choose the language.
It’s an awful lot of functionality packed into a DECT phone, but Siemens has wisely opted for a mobile-esque and very user-friendly layout and interface, replete with quick access keys to text, phone book etc. Matched in features by call and build quality, you are paying for the numerous extras, but if you’ll use them it’s a great phone at a decent price.
I have an iDECT X1 and find it to be excellent except that I am no longer able to display caller ID on incoming calls received via BT homehub,
I'm sure it worked initially but alas no longer.
Any suggestions apart from talk to BT who cannot communicate
Why review the Philips VoIP321 and no the VoIP841
You reviewed the Philips VoIP321 and criticised it because you needed to plug it into a computer that needed to be on in order to do Skype/VoIP calls. Would it not have been easier instead to review the VoIP841 which is very siimilar, but works without needing to be plugged into a computer?
Me too! (DECT interoperability)
I'm also very curious about this DECT interoperability business, and various other features that came 'for free' with good ol' analogue telephones.
In the shop where I bought my AEG phones (a 2 handset... set) I asked the sixteen year old 'salesman' about interoperability and he looked as if his boss had asked him whether loyalty was more important than obedience.
When he eventually came out of his trance he answered "er... no I don't think they be used together" in a fairly unconvincing way.
I've learned to disregard such tech 'know-how' from teenage staff at electronics retail outlets ever since one of them assured me that the MiniDisc was not digital but an analogue recording format - 'like a cassette'.
But... but... what's the deal. Does 'DECT' imply anything useful for consumers or is it just hot air? Can I buy some more DECT handsets from another manufacturer which will work with my existing DECT phones? Who can answer?
I also discovered that the handsets can have some numbers programmed into them. Great! Except you have to program handset A and handset B independently. No way of sharing the digital telephone book between handsets (pretty stupid). Watch out for that one.
Oh! One more point: When we used to have two analogue phones in our flat, we could use both phones simultaneously - I mean, both me and my girlfriend could speak to 'the caller' or 'callee' at the same time. (I believe this was called a 'Party Line' in the old days).
I naturally expected my DECT phones would offer the same functionality, but noooo.. Far too exotic. I really miss that sometimes when talking to relatives from abroad. Just a warning to you folks out there. This feature is not mentioned in the Reg review either.
How hard can it be?
Siemens Gigaset experience
I'm a very happy "work from home" employee of a "coffee" brewing, Hardware and OS selling IT company ... ;-)
3 weeks ago I bought this Siemens set and am very happy with it. Reception is brilliant, sound clarity both ways is impressive and the thing last a good while.
I used it constantly while in conference calls and indeed would like to "do the dishes" or "visit the dunny" while in a call ...
But ... the darn thing does not have a MUTE function !
Only serious drawback of this phone.
Siemens have got a DECT on the market with an ethernet port and a SIP client built in. Would have been a good one to review as it can be used with decent VoIP services like Sipgate and voip.co.uk, and doesn't require a PC to be on in order to use it. It's also available at a sensible price.