This one time (recently), our cordless phone was left on the bumper of the car (whoops!), and my husband, took it for a little drive where it spent the night lonely on the side of the road in the rain. It still worked sort of, but no one could hear me when I talked. It’s been a long time since I’ve paid much attention to cordless telephones. If you’re anything like me, you look at a cordless phone and think “hey, it’s just a phone, what’s the difference?”. Thanks to VTech, I’ve had a chance to play around with a new modern “digital answering system”, the DS6421-3. Apparently there’s a lot of difference between cordless phone systems nowadays, a lot has changed over the past 5+ years.
First, here’s what’s in the box, neatly packaged:
- Quickstart guides, user’s manual
- Wall mount bracket
- 3 cordless phones (handsets) with batteries
- 1 base station with power adapter and phone cable
- 2 charging cradles with power adapters
I won’t go into all the detailed specs here as part of this review, you can find the complete listing on the VTech DS6421-3 site here. This set of phones operates on the DECT 6.0 standard. That means it uses the 1.9 GHz frequency and it won’t interfere with your wireless network (home wifi equipment that generally uses 2.4 and/or 5 Ghz frequency). Another feature that comes in handy is the “Connect To Cell” technology. Connect to cell means you can use both your cell line and your landline with this set, easily switching between the two. The VTech DS6421-3 also includes “Push To Talk” technology so you can use the sets like walkie-talkies. Overall, the features are pretty impressive, equaling those of some of the more expensive high-end sets on the market.
Installing the phone is as easy as can be. You just have to figure out where you want to put the base station and plug the included phone cord into a phone outlet. You can easily mount the base on the wall with the included wall mount bracket if you want, but I preferred to have mine on the counter. The batteries included with the handsets come pre-charged, so you just plug them in and the ‘base’ automatically recognizes each handset and configures it. One handset sits in the cradle as part of the base, the other two handsets can be placed anywhere you like, just plug each of the charger cradles into any available outlet.
Using the DS6421-3
Once you set up the base and cradles, you’re ready to start using the phones. The VTech DS6421-3 does everything you’d expect from a good cordless phone set. The handsets themselves are very sleek, fit comfortably in your hand and feel well-built. The back lighting is good, the screens on the handsets are crystal clear and easy to read. So far everyone I have talked to sounds crystal clear. Each cordless phone has caller ID, functions as a speakerphone, and the base has an indicator on it that tells you how many voicemails (if any) are recorded. You can also screen calls right on each handset – just hit the “screen” button and you can listen to the person leaving the message on the handset speakerphone. I love not having to get up to hear who is calling. Another feature I found myself using frequently is the ability to listen to recorded messages from any of the handsets. Just use the menu to select “play messages”, and listen to the voicemails on whatever handset you have available.
There’s nothing more annoying than having your cordless phone run out of battery all the time. The VTech DS6421-3 features very long battery life. I used the cordless phones for hours and didn’t have to charge them for at least a week. I was very impressed with the battery life and I had no low battery sounds beeping in my ear mid conversation.
Another, aspect of cordless phones is their range of use. I am often on the phone and going out to the mailbox and prefer not to lose connection. You want something that will let you walk anywhere in the house without interference, as well as short distances like your driveway. I was able to use the cordless sets throughout the house, outside the house all the way to the street in front of the house with no problems. VTech lists the range as “up to 500 feet”, which is probably only feasible under the most perfect conditions, but the range on these were great.
The 3 handsets in this set are identical. They operate using a very simple menu, it didn’t take long at all to figure out how everything worked without even opening the manual. The menu is operated using a left / right select buttons along with a round disk . The menu options are straight forward, you can customize pretty much everything from the ring tones to the ringer volume to the number of rings it takes before the answering machine picks up. You can also set a name label for each handset so you know where each one goes. This feature is perfect for when you want to use the “push to talk” functionality. Picking up the phone and pushing the button for “Kitchen” or “Basement” makes a lot more sense then trying to remember where “handset #1” is located.
One thing I really liked about the phones is that when someone calls each set it speaks the name/caller id of the caller. You don’t have to look at the phone or base to know who’s calling, which is very handy for easy screening of calls. For me this is more fun than anything, because at first I had some trouble recognizing the pronunciations. The DS6421-3 also has “equalizer” functionality to optimize the sound quality of your phone calls. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine ever needing to use an equalizer to fine tune the sound on my mono phone handheld…. But hey, it can’t hurt, it’s a nice touch they threw in!
Connect To Cell
The “connect to cell” functionality is one of the features relatively new to the cordless phone market. Basically, it allows you to integrate your cell phone(s) and your landline together into one seamless phone system. it works like this: you “pair” up to two cell phones to the DS6421 base, using Bluetooth connectivity. That means the paired phone just has to be somewhere near the base (in the same room generally) to be connected to the DS6421 base. Once paired, the base will treat the paired cell phone as another “line” in addition to your land line. You can receive incoming calls from your cell phone(s) on your cordless phone the same way you would incoming calls on the land line. Different ring tones indicate whether the call is on the landline or on the cell.
This is an excellent feature for those with a cell phone with Bluetooth. When you come home, just put your cell phone in the same room as the DS6421 base, plug it in to charge the battery, and you’ll be able to make and receive calls using your cell or your landline with the simple click of a button. Click the “cell” button, and you receive or make a call using your cell phone. Click the “home” button, and you receive or make a call using your landline. Since you can pair two cell phones, two people living in a home cold both have their phones paired, and both use the same set of cordless phones to access either the landline or the cell phone.
One important note to the landline/cell phone functionality is that you only need to have one or the other to use the system. If you have both cell phone(s) and a landline, the DS6421-3 integrates them perfectly… but you can use the VTech DS6421-3 without having a landline at all, great for those who are thinking of getting rid of their land line and just using cell phones. With this system you get the best of both worlds, a nice handset with great range and coverage while your cell phone is charging. For example, you could use your cell phone for free long distance if your landline doesn’t have free long distance.
Another great feature of the connect to cell technology is that the DS6421 phone system can copy your contacts from your cell phone(s) to the cordless phone system. That makes the issue of having someone’s info on your cell but not your home phone a thing of the past.
You can also connect Bluetooth headsets to the DS6421 for easy hands-free calling in your house. I found this feature somewhat less than useful since you are limited to a relatively small area around the base of the phone system. You can’t use the Bluetooth headset and wander off to the other side of the house while on the phone, the Bluetooth signal will get disconnected. Still, it’s a nice option to have if you need to be on the phone a lot and want an easy hands-free setup.
The DS6421-3 can be expanded to up to 12 handsets, although who needs 12 handsets? I found that the three provided were more than enough and felt like I had phones laying around everywhere.
In conclusion, I really like the VTech DS6421-3.
Pros: great feature set, great look and feel, cell/landline integration, phone contact copying, expandability, long battery life, ease of setup and use, overall value.
Cons: inability to set ringer volume for each handset, ringer options have to be set for all handsets at the same time.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the VTech DS6421-3. It was easy to set up, works great, integrates the land line with the cell phones seamlessly, and does everything at a very reasonable price (less than $100 last I looked). That’s a great bargain! I’d recommend this set to anyone who’s in the market for a new cordless phone system. You can save a few dollars by getting a “no frills” cordless phone set, but you’d miss out on a lot of great features and functionality for relatively small savings. The bottom line: The VTech DS6421-3 is a really great phone for the home.
**I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of VTech and received a product sample to facilitate my review. All of the opinions I have expressed here are my own.**