iDect iHome Android phone
The household handset meets the 21st century
Review As well as smartphones and tablets Google’s Android operating system has started cropping up in media players, ski goggles, car stereos and even headphones, so it’s perhaps not too surprising that it’s now turned up in the humble landline home phone.
Powered by Android, built by Binatone: the iDect iHome Phone
Rather more futuristic and stylish than your average dog and bone, the iDect (by Binatone) iHome Phone consists of a rather smart circular base complete with built-in speakerphone and digital answering machine. The all-important touchscreen handset sits atop of all this to recharge. The handset is a solid and pleasantly proportioned lump with physical back, menu and call keys plus a four-way navpad, all arranged below the 2.8in LCD panel or to the right of with the screen when in landscape position.
Nice though the handset is, you only get the one and I couldn't find a way of buying any more. Other DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) compatible handsets will of course work, but that’s not the point, for £100 two handsets should be included.
Compared to the often labyrinthine menu systems of some home phones the iHome is blindingly easy to set up and use. It’s certainly the first cordless phone I’ve come across that doesn’t require you to keep the user guide for future reference.
From making calls to hooking up to your home Wi-Fi network or browsing the web, the iHome operates in exactly the same way as any other Android handset. Alas, the absence of the Google stamp of approval means you can’t sign in to access your account contacts – a significant drawback in a telephone.
Simple controls and navigation
What you do get though are all the other basic Android niceties such as a web browser, e-mail client, music player, Internet radio app, e-book and RSS readers and a selection of widgets. I’m not sure most people need all these things on their home phone handset, but like condoms and snow chains, I suppose it’s better to have them and not need them than the other way around.
iDect/Binatone - look shiny but, as I've previously found to my cost, the build quality is shite; had an iDect once that wasn't particularly cheap and looked fairly awesome (oki, for a landline phone) ... after about a month you had to dock it into the cradle _just_ right or it wouldn't charge - eventually resorting to bits of broken matchstick or folded paper to try and get the angle right before thinking "you know what, this is a joke" and forking out for a cheap, ugly Panasonic instead ... which has worked perfectly ever since.
So the rule of thumb, I guess, is - if it says Binatone avoid it like the plague.
A really cool concept would be if somebody could design a cell phone that was capable of behaving as a DECT phone (to an existing or sold-seperately base station) so that users only have to ever carry and use one phone. In the house it will receive calls to the landline, and (optionally) make calls using the landline, as well as behaving as a normal GSM cell phone.
Sweepstake on the arrival of the first Android-powered toilet-roll holder?
...you've read Alan Sugar's biography?
You poor thing.
It says Binatone
Cannot possibly be good quality. You only have to read Alan Sugar's biography to know that both Amstrad and Binatone were pile it high, sell it cheap merchants. His writing about Gulu Lalvani (who owns Binatone) is interesting, and sort-of confirms what most people think about Binatone.
The phrase, I think, is 'You can't polish a turd'. They create hundreds of brand names like iDect, Ministry of Sound and so-forth. Sadly, some of the BT branded cordless phones are also made by Binatone, although some are also made by Siemens (you can see which ones because the Siemens ones have the Siemens logo on them alongside the BT one). Binatone kit looks really good, but unfortunately most of us have been decieved by the shiny appearance and disappointed by quite how crap the build quality is of the stuff. Even Chinese sweat shops wouldn't turn out stuff quite this badly made, which breaks within weeks.
As others have said - I always stick to quality brand names like Panasonic and Motorola.