The S79H has actually become my favorite of the five Gigaset handsets that I’ve tried. My challenge now is to describe how it came to earn that honor.
Like the C59H, the S79H is only being offered in North America as an expansion handset. It can be used in conjunction with any existing A580IP or S675IP system.
One of the two new handsets introduced for 2010, the S79H is very much an upgraded version of the S67H that I described in the last installment. They are in many ways very similar, yet the S79H features numerous enhancements.
The physical improvements to the handset are perhaps the most obvious. The buttons on the handset remain plastic but are now metal plated. While this seems like a small thing it imparts a much enhanced impression of the handset as a high-quality device.
Like the C59H, there is now a dedicated mic mute button in the lower right position on the keypad.
Whereas all the prior models offered control of volume by way of the rocker switch under the LCD display, the S79H also has volume up/down buttons conveniently located on the right side of the handset. This is a much more natural location for these controls, making it easier to adjust volume while on a call without taking the handset away from your ear.
The S79H supports a wired headset. The standard 2.5mm headset jack is located on the lower left side of the handset, and is provided with a soft plastic cover to keep it dust-free when not used.
Removing the back of the handset you’ll find a pair of AAA sized NiMH batteries rated at 700 mAh. These are said to deliver 180 hours of standby time or 13 hours of talk time. That is, plenty…and then some.
Having removed the back of the handset you’ll see a hidden but significant new feature; a mini USB port. The S79H can be connected to a PC running the Gigaset QuickSync program for Windows. I’ll have more about that a bit later.
I’m told that the LCD display on the S79H has the same specifications as that found in the S67H. That is, a 1.8 inch TFT LCD capable of 128 x 160 pixels, operating at 16 bit color depth (aka 65,000 colors) and capable of displaying 8 lines of text. However, to my eye the display on the S79H looks significantly better.
It’s very difficult to show this clearly as taking high-quality photographs of small LCD displays is not especially easy, or my forte. Of the two displays shown above the S79H is on the left and the S67H on the right. I selected the intercom menu on both and have adjusted them in Photoshop to be a lifelike as possible.
I’ve tried to shoot both so as to achieve and accurate rendition of the display, but they both bloom a bit. Honestly, none of the pictures that I’ve taken do it justice.
The two handsets offer very different sets of predefined color schemes for the handset UI. I note that the color schemes on the S67H use light backgrounds whereas those on the S79H use light type on dark backgrounds. It may just be that color schemes in the S79H are more appealing, or suit that LCD display.
Whatever the case, the S79H simply looks better to me.
Just as the better display the defining improvement in the C59H over the A58H, the better display becomes for me a central attraction in the S79H. The addition of the USB port and access to the Gigaset Quick Sync software further extends the scope of what you can do with the improved display.
While the S79H comes with a number of preloaded ring-tones, it has fewer than the S67H. Fear not, there’s a good reason for this. Why consume memory by pre-loading a lengthy list of goofy melodies when the USB connectivity allows you to upload ring tones from your PC?
My first use of the Quick Sync software was to upload a custom ring-tone. In my case, a recording of Shadow, our Labrador Retriever, barking. I also loaded his picture. As with the S67H, a handful of generic little pictures come preloaded.
…which brings me to the contact list. As with the previous models you can import/export contacts (vcards) using the web GUI. The S79H has greater memory, supporting 500 contact entries, twice as many as the S67H.
The contacts may be organized into VIP groups, like friends, family, co-workers, etc. Each VIP group can be assigned a different ring-tone. So when family calls me I hear Shadow barking. In contrast, when a business call comes in I hear a more typical, standard phone ring.
Another capability presented by the USB port and the associated Quick Sync software is the ability to sync the phones contact list with Microsoft’s Outlook or Outlook Express. To date I’ve only tinkered with this in passing. However, I’ll go into a little more detail later in the series with a post dedicated to profiling the Quick Sync software.
As I stated at the outset, the S79H is very similar to the S67H, but improved in many ways. Perhaps the biggest single improvement is in its basic responsiveness to keypad activity. The S79H has none of the sluggishness that plagues the S67H.
In the S79H, Gigaset seems to have used a more capable hardware platform. I feel that this alone is sufficient reason to make the S79H the handset that you select when expanding an existing system.
The Gigaset S79H is truly a pleasure to use. In fact, we are purchasing a couple more to replace the A58H handsets that we’ve been using around our house this past year. The A58Hs will be demoted to lesser applications, like adding a handset on the workbench in our garage.
Next in this series I’ll be describing the top-of-the-line SL78H handset
- Improved color graphical LCD display
- Improved response to keypad & menu activity
- Supports wired headsets
- 500 item contact list can be uploaded from a vcard file
- User loadable screen saver pics, caller ID pics & ring tones
- Good battery life
- Very good cordless range
- I’d wish this handset was sold as part of a starter package with an IP-capable DECT base.