Introduced in early 2009, the Gigaset SL78H is the top-of-the-line cordless handset that they offer in North America.
Like the C59H and S79H, the SL78H is only being offered as an expansion handset with respect to the IP-capable A580IP and S675IP systems. You may see it offered as part of the SL780 or SL785, but these are not IP-capable systems.
As I’ve moved up the product range there has been a natural progression in features and physical attributes. Each better model builds logically upon the previous, but adds certain improvements in hardware or software.
At the top of the range the SL78H is physically a very different device. To start, it’s heavy. Unlike the prior models there is a lot of metal in the SL78H. Even the keypad itself has a brushed-metallic finish.
The handset’s frame is chrome-plated metal. The charging base is also chrome-plated metal, and heavy enough to be small yet hold the handset securely, without fear of it falling over.
The display on the SL78H, at 2.2 inches is larger than those on lesser models. It’s a TFT LCD resolving 240 x 320 pixels at 18 bit color depth (aka 256k colors.) It’s big, bright and sharp.
The entire back of the SL78H is a removable plastic cover. With the belt clip and the back removed you gain access to a mini-USB port and the battery pack. Like the lesser models, you’ll also find the driver for the speakerphone under the back cover.
Unlike prior models, the SL78H does not use standard AAA sized batteries. Gigaset has instead used a custom Li-Ion battery pack that’s said to deliver 200 hours of standby time or 15 hours of talk time.
The mini-USB port allows the use of the Gigaset QuickSync software for Windows as previously described. Like the S79H, the SL78H allows up to 500 contacts in memory, synced to outlook.
Of course, you can upload caller ID images, which can take advantage of the larger, higher-resolution LCD display. In fact, the display is so nice that I thought you might appreciate a gallery of menus shots to illustrate this fact.
If you click on the large image below it will invoke an image gallery. There are 17 images, each is reasonably close to a 1:1 pixel relationship with the display of the phone. I’ve done only minimal resizing, cropping and gamma correction so these images should be a fairly accurate representation of what we see on the SL78H handset.
It’s very clear that as cordless phones go the SL78H has a spectacular display. It’s easily the best of the Gigaset range at leveraging the various data display capabilities (news, email, sms) of the handset.
While the menus are very clear and easy to navigate I found that the improved display recast the screen saver feature in an entirely new light. When parked in the charging stand the handset acted like a small digital photo frame showing a family picture. While relatively trivial this was nonetheless a nice feature for home use.
In many ways the feature set of the SL78H is a mirror of the S79H, but in a different physical form. Where they differ is with respect to headsets. The SL78H supports the use of a Bluetooth cordless headset….and only a cordless headset. Its metal frame is continuous, lacking the connection for a wired headset.
Sadly, the Bluetooth radio on the SL78H did not permit the use of wideband audio in the case of the Savi Go. Even though the Gigaset was on a G.722 encoded call, the audio at the headset was narrowband. Since wideband capable Bluetooth headsets are a comparatively rare this was not entirely unexpected.
I am hoping to acquire a Bluetooth wireless speakerphone and try it with the SL78H. I feel that even though the pair would not be wideband capable they might be a better solution that the handsets built-in speakerphone capability.
The Bluetooth radio can also be used as a data link to your PC. When setup in this fashion it replaces the USB connection for conveniently syncing contacts, uploading pictures and ring-tones.
Our use of the SL78H has been limited to the home office, for when I put one on our home phone line my wife complained about the keypad. She didn’t like the fact that the keypad is a single, smooth surface. She felt that, like the snom m3 handsets a couple of years ago, the smooth keypad made dialing more difficult since she couldn’t feel the transitions between the keys. She felt it caused her to miss-dial a lot so she prefers the S79H handset.
My feeling is that the SL78H is a great flagship for the Gigaset DECT range. It’s very well built and has a tremendous feature set. It’s the ultimate cordless phone for a large and very tastefully decorated house. It should be featured in fashion & décor magazines because it truly is house-techno-bling.
While that may appeal to some, it’s just a little over-the-top with respect to our humble dwelling. Given the choice between various models we’d rather have more of the S79H handsets. They may not be all chrome and sparkle, but I think that they’re the better value.
In an unrelated note: has anyone noticed that the various Gigaset handsets follow the same naming conventions as Mercedes cars? I’m told that the A , C, S & SL class designations were used with permission from Mercedes. Apparently there is some solidarity amongst German manufacturers.