Philips DECT Phones: Fail!

After a few weeks of use we’ve decided that these Philips DECT phones we acquired on WOOT.COM have just got to go. At $49 for a set of four handsets they were certainly inexpensive so I’m not all that upset. There are simply too many things about the devices that are source of frustration, so I’m once again shopping for alternatives. I should know better than to make impulse purchases. I’m such a sucker for new gadgetry.

What is the cause our frustration? So kind of you to ask….

As documented previously the blue back-lit LCDs are difficult to see. And yet without the back-light the LCD cannot be seen at all in the evening or at night.

philips_dect_60_with_4_handset_cordless_phone_and_answering_machine93zdetail

With no means to upload contacts I’ve been typing them in using the handset as we need to make calls to friends, family, local restaurants, etc. It’s a PITA once you’ve had the pleasure of mass uploading contacts to a snom m3 or Siemens S685IP.

The volume level at the earpiece is just barely sufficient. It’s ok for most things but occasionally when there’s some background noise they simply don’t go loud enough.

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Fails to deliver on the HD Voice promise trumpeted on the packaging for several reasons:

  1. No built-in VoIP capability so all connectivity is via the analog POTS line
  2. Poor quality transducers, most notably insufficient low frequency response of the earpiece
  3. The phones just seem noisy. Yes, analog background noise, even though they are connected directly to a Sipura ATA.

I actually think that the wideband codec emphasizes the faults of the hardware and firmware. It might be passing wideband to the DECT base, but then it has to convert that to G.711 for the analog POTS interface. Poor quality downsampling can kill signal quality, introducing all sorts of audible artifacts.

They are a curious case of selling a feature (High Def Voice) that implies high-quality even though the fundamentals of the device (connection to the PSTN alone) diminishes or eliminates the benefit of said feature. Its marchitecture.

All this aside, my wife stands by her assertion that the keypad on the m3 was driving her nuts. She’s happy to live with the Philips handsets a until a suitable replacement can be found.

And remember, life’s just too short to make do with a crappy phone.

  • David Boone

    I don’t think it’s technically accurate to say the DECT base is converting the wideband codec to G.711. The DECT base would have a Digital-to-Analog converter that converts the wideband sound into analog, not losing any detail. It’s the ATA with its Analog-to-Digital converter that is actually converting it to G.711 and losing the wideband detail.

    I might just be anal-retentive however 🙂

    • You’re probably right about that. Although there does seem to be a problem with high frequency noise. That makes me think it’s a problem in the filters in the D/A.

  • Maybe you and I should find someone to let us try the Polycom dect phones…

    • Seldom do I approach this stuff with a “cost-is-no-object” attitude. The enterprise DECT stuff is seriously expensive. Also, most of the Kirk handsets don’t appeal to me. The elliptical shapes I find oddly unattractive and possibly impractical.

      I may well try them, if such an opportunity arises without me having to spend a grand for the privilege.