Vtech CS6719 Review

From $20 Best

The Vtech CS6719 is a well-featured cordless phone with very good call quality and reception. This is the best overall value among our picks.

For anyone who uses a landline and wants the freedom to roam with phone in hand, Vtech CS6719 reviews say this is the budget cordless model to own. At Best Buy one purchaser reports holding conversations in a garage, 90 feet from the base, without any receptivity problems while others comment generally on the excellent range and sound quality. Although a few reviews quibble about audio clarity, most assert volume is sufficiently loud and clear when using the handset or speakerphone, and the ringer has plenty of zing, as well. Reviewers also like the feature array and user-friendly setup and operation. Reviews posted at Staples cite minor annoyances such as lag when retrieving names in the directory and a tone that sounds whenever a number is pushed, but overall users consider this a good, reliable phone.

The Vtech CS6719 (starting at $20/one handset; $30/two handsets, Best Buy) supports up to five handsets and the base comes packaged with one or two handsets. It's a DECT 6.0 phone with the usual caller ID and call waiting features, and stores up to 50 names and numbers in a directory as well as the last 10 numbers called (for convenient redialing). The keypad and display are both backlit and an indicator signals a waiting voicemail. Users can silence the ringer on the handset and the base, mute their end of the conversation, or hold the conversation in speakerphone mode. This updated model also incorporates full-duplex technology in the handset, which enables everyone on the call to speak at once without that irritating sound blackout. It bears an Energy Star.

A cheap cordless phone with just enough features to keep things simple but practical, the Vtech CS6719 handily meets users' expectations for performance. Sound quality is quite good, as is its range. Added all together, the Vtech CS6719 stands at the head of its class.

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Panasonic KX-TG6512B Review

From $43 Best

A reasonably priced phone packed with features, the Panasonic KX-TG6512B comes with the usual budget phone features plus a headset jack, call-block function, and more.

Panasonic KX-TG6512B reviews sing the praises of this cordless phone's feature set and performance. With more than 1,200 four- and five-star reviews at Amazon, it earns kudos for crisp call quality and long range and features like a headset jack and a function that blocks calls from pre-specified numbers; one user notes this is the only cordless phone that successfully interacts with her service provider's voicemail system. The absence of static and interference impress users who have switched from older generation phones, according to reviews at Walmart, where they also remark on the high value-to-price ratio. Still, a handful of reviews grumble about one thing or another: dissatisfaction with the audio quality (sounds like being in a tunnel, says one) and the interface, plastic housing that seems chintzy, the absence of a mute function and voicemail indicator, and questionable durability.

The Panasonic KX-TG6512B (starting at $43/two handsets, Amazon) is a 1.9GHz DECT 6.0 phone that includes two handsets in the initial purchase and can support up to four more. The phone is equipped with caller ID and call waiting, and stores up to 50 contacts in its directory. It provides a headset jack -- a must-have feature for some shoppers -- and runs on three rechargeable AAA batteries that are far cheaper than the specialized power cells found in other cordless phones. The KX-TG6512B also features a speakerphone and support for voicemail and four-way conferencing, and equips the handsets with an intercom and locator. The keypad is backlit and the ringer can be silenced.

Several features users really appreciate but don't often find on budget cordless phones plus strong performance make this model a real deal.

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Vtech CS6114 Review

From $15 Good

For the most basic of cordless phones, check out the CS6114. It's no-frills and very low cost and delivers solid reception.

This may be the cheapest cordless phone on our list, but Vtech CS6114 reviews say it more than holds its own against others in the budget zone. At Best Buy, for example, users write that it's durable, easy to set up, and provides very good reception. A bit short on features -- some lament the lack of a speakerphone -- reviewers nonetheless commend the simplicity and value price. Reviews posted at Amazon sound similar themes. As with other inexpensive cordless phones, some users report less than total satisfaction with audio quality, battery charging, and keypad buttons (hard to push, asserts one).

The Vtech CS6114 (starting at $15/one handset, Amazon) is a basic, no-frills phone. It runs on DECT 6.0 technology and includes the usual caller ID and call waiting options. It can store up to 30 names and numbers in the directory and remembers the last five numbers dialed. There is a mute function, a voicemail indicator, and volume control. Specifications indicate the CS6114 is hearing-aid compatible and it boasts an Energy Star. Unlike the other cordless phones we researched, this is a one-handset model -- the base cannot accommodate additional handsets.

The very low price of the Vtech CS6114 reflects the pared-down feature set, not any lessening of performance. For many users, this balance is exactly what's called for.

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Uniden UN-D1760 Review

From $25 Good

A reliable cordless phone with good sound, Uniden's UN-D1760 supports up to 12 handsets and a 100-entry phonebook, more than most budget-priced models.

Good reception, good features, and good value is the consensus assessment found in Uniden UN-D1760 reviews at several sites. One post at Walmart expresses pleasant surprise at the very clear audio with this cordless phone, another notes the ease of use, and others say it's unbeatable for the price. Reviews at Amazon are bundled together with other models in the series but are notable for their positive tone. We did, however, come across several reviews that gripe about a weak ring, slow data retrieval, and batteries that don't hold a charge; some lambast the company's customer service.

Two impressive features on the Uniden UN-D1760 (starting at $25/one handset; $45/two handsets, Amazon) are its support for up to 12 handsets and 100 entries in its contact directory, both of which make this model a good choice for small offices. Like other cordless models, it offers caller ID and call waiting and employs DECT 6.0 technology. The keypad is backlit, the handset has a built-in speakerphone (there's none in the base), and the model itself carries an Energy Star.

If you're looking for a phone system that you can expand significantly later on, the UN-D1760 is a good way to go. And with overall solid performance and phone book capacity that's two to three times larger than other models we researched, the Uniden UN-D1760 earns a second-place finish in our ranking.

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GE 28522AE1 Review

From $30 Think Twice

This phone from GE is one of the few budget models with an integrated answering machine but users critique its call quality.

Users' GE 28522AE1 reviews are limited in number and relatively unenthusiastic. At Walmart a few approve of the aesthetics and user-friendly menus, but more grumble about irritants like low volume, garbled sound, and a ringer that isn't loud enough. A similar range of comments show up in reviews at Amazon where one user reports hearing a lot of static and believing himself to sound like a robot while talking.

Unlike most models in the budget price range, the GE 28522AE1 (starting at $30/one handset, Best Buy) includes an integrated answering system that can record up to 20 minutes of messages. This phone package comes with just one handset but the model can support a total of four. It offers caller ID and call waiting and features a speakerphone, a 30-name/number directory, a backlit LCD display, and a ringer silencer. The GE 28522AE1 also boasts an Energy Star.

A cordless phone's features and low price aren't important if the call clarity is compromised, and GE 28522AE1 reviews indicate this model delivers less than satisfactory audio quality. That alone is enough reason to pass on it. We found other low-cost cordless phones that meet a higher standard for performance and features.

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Buying Guide

Cell phones may be displacing landlines as the primary means of voice communication for many people, but cheap cordless phones retain a hold on the market. The availability of a dedicated frequency for cordless models has sparked a proliferation of products that aren't troubled by interference from wireless routers or appliances. Better yet, the best cheap cordless phones won't mess with your budget. We found models with one or two handsets going for less than $50.

Cheap Cordless Phones Buying Guide

The main players in this end of the market are Panasonic, Uniden, and Vtech. There are plenty of other brands, of course, such as GE and Motorola, but the Big Three dominate and are well represented on our list of top picks.

Our research determined that the two best cheap cordless phones are the Vtech CS6719 (starting at $20/one handset; $30/two handsets), which comes with an appealing set of features, and the Panasonic KX-TG6512B (starting at $43/two handsets), which sports more features than typically found on bargain phones and runs on two AAA rechargeable batteries; both models hit a high note with users for sound quality. In the second-best basket sits Vtech's CS6114 (starting at $15/one handset), a good, basic phone with a bargain basement price and decent performance. The Uniden UN-D1760 (starting at $25/one handset; $45/two handsets), another runner-up model, supports up to 12 handsets and 100 directory entries and puts in a respectable performance. We aren't terribly impressed with the GE 28522AE1 (starting at $30/one handset) given that users share more than a smattering of complaints about poor audio quality.

Recent technological advances have significantly improved the overall performance of cordless phones, regardless of price point. Any model worth buying should support the DECT 6.0 standard, as do all the cheap cordless phones we researched. The digital technology underlying DECT 6.0 has definite advantages over the analog (radio wave) technology used by earlier generations of cordless phones. For starters, DECT 6.0 phones operate at 1.9GHz, so there shouldn't be any interference from the wireless networks running at 2.4GHz that are everywhere these days. Additionally, DECT 6.0 phones provide better sound quality and range (i.e., the distance you can roam from the phone's base before losing the signal), about 30 percent longer battery life, and more privacy (calls made on phones using the older protocols could be intercepted).

Technological underpinnings aside, budget cordless phones are fairly Spartan. Standard features include call waiting and caller ID, and a directory that stores phone numbers for important contacts. All have an LCD display, which may or may not be backlit; ditto for the keypad. Other features vary by model. The number of possible handsets supported by the base, for example, ranges up to 12 but may be limited to just one. An integrated answering machine is unusual in this price range, although one of our best cheap cordless phone picks includes it; the more common feature is voicemail support, a service that must be arranged with your telecommunications provider. Most cheap cordless phones include a speakerphone option and a few boast a headset jack -- two features that are very popular with buyers. Other nifty functions that sometimes show up on cheaper models are mute, silent ring, handset locator and/or intercom, and last-number(s) redial.

In terms of performance, our reading of consumer reviews found that call quality trumps all else, and the best cheap cordless phones score admirably. Range is also important, but the DECT 6.0 technology seems to have made this issue moot. We also found that ease-of-use and battery life matter to consumers, the latter generating comments about units that failed to hold a charge.

Prices for cordless phones can reach hundreds of dollars, but there's no need to go there. Reviews indicate the best cheap models are more than adequate. Although expert reviews of budget cordless phones are scarce, we found enough useful posts written by consumers to help inform your buying decision.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

Cordless Phone Reviews

Cordless phones reviews reveal that users' expectations about performance are straightforward: The audio should sound clear in both directions and volume on the calls must be sufficient. A cordless phone with excellent range is important, as is ease of setup. Battery life is another consideration, although recharging a cordless handset is as easy as dropping it in its cradle. For the most part, users are satisfied with the overall performance of the best budget cordless phones; negative appraisals are primarily limited to the absence of certain features and the inability of the occasional handset, regardless of model, to hold a charge.

Cordless Phones Sound Quality.

Voice clarity on cordless phones is the crucial performance criterion, according to user reviews. Thrifty shoppers will be pleased to know that scrimping on price doesn't mean having to shout into the phone to be heard. Although the random user may wind up with a unit that doesn't work properly -- static on the line, perhaps, or volume that just isn't loud enough -- the vast majority of cordless phones reviews either say good things about sound quality with the models on our list or don't address the issue at all, leading to the conclusion that all is well on this front.

First on our list is the Vtech CS6719 (starting at $20/one handset; $30/two handsets), a model whose audio comes in loud and clear, say users. Cordless phones reviews at Best Buy, for example, often rate its sound quality at the high end of a five-point scale and rarely mention problems, although one cautions that this model might not be the best choice for someone with compromised hearing. Excellent clarity and reception likewise mark our other top cordless phone choice, the Panasonic KX-TG6512B (starting at $43/two handsets), according to posts at Walmart. And yet, a couple of dissenting voices at Newegg insist sound quality is slightly subpar.

In our second-tier bracket sits the Vtech CS6114 (starting at $15/one handset), which delivers quality sound despite its low price. Users generally say reception is solid while a couple of cordless phones reviews at Radio Shack grumble about inadequate volume during calls. Assessments of the Uniden UN-D1760 (starting at $25/one handset; $45/two handsets) are upbeat, with a post at Walmart describing the audio as "crystal clear."

The GE 28522AE1 (starting at $30/one handset) fares relatively poorly in the limited number of reviews we found for this model. At a variety of sites including Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy, users grumble about static and inadequate volume (a critique of the ringer as well). One user reports the speakerphone sound quality is so poor that the incoming voice sounds like gibberish.

We researched two other inexpensive models: the Panasonic KX-TG4011N (starting at $25/one handset) and Motorola L601 (starting at $21/one handset). The former garners a relatively mixed reception, with some reviews at Staples giving thumbs up for clarity while a reviewer at Overstock complains about heavy static. Sound quality on the Motorola L601 is top notch, according to cordless phone reviews at sites like Amazon and Newegg.

Cordless Phones Ease of Use.

A low-cost cordless phone typically is easy to set up and use. Just plug the base into an outlet and a phone jack, charge the handset, hit a few buttons and punch in a few numbers, and you're good to go. Generally speaking, the models on our list pass the user-friendly test. Cordless phones reviews at Amazon of the Panasonic KX-TG6512B, for example, assert it's a cinch to program despite its many features.

But again, the occasional review sounds off about confusing instructions or irritating design elements. It takes two buttons to access the directory on the KX-TG6512B, grumbles one, while a post at Newegg asserts the manual for the Motorola L601 is incomplete and another at Best Buy considers instructions for the Vtech CS6114 to be useless. A few users of the Vtech CS6719 and Panasonic KX-TG4011N grouse about losing a call when inadvertently hitting a button with their faces. One reviewer writes that data retrieval on the Uniden UN-D1760 proceeds all too slowly and another claims buttons on the GE 28522AE1 are insufficiently responsive.

Cordless Phone Handsets

Regardless of price, brand, or underlying technology, most cordless phones these days contain a number of standard features, including an LCD display and caller ID and call-waiting capabilities. They all run on rechargeable batteries and nearly all support more cordless phone handsets than contained in the original package. Some are equipped with a speakerphone option and backlights for the display and/or keyboard. The cheap phones we looked at come with few features beyond these, but users seem satisfied with the basics when shopping for a bargain phone.

Cordless Phone Handsets.

The vast majority of cordless phones are expandable; that is, the home base can support multiple handsets. The Uniden UN-D1760, by contrast, can handle up to 12 handsets; half that number, or less, is more common in the budget market segment. Among the models we researched only the Vtech CS6114 is limited to one handset.

The number of cordless phone handsets that come in the original package varies by model. Our online search for the lowest starting prices found that the GE 28522AE1, Panasonic KX-TG4011N, and Motorola L601 are sold as single-handset phones; the Vtech CS6719 and Uniden UN-D1760 can be purchased with one or two handsets; and the Panasonic KX-TG6512B is offered only as a double. Additional cordless phone handsets for these models are sold separately but are not cost-efficient. You'll save money in the long run by buying a package at the outset with as many handsets as you need, although the cost may pull you out of the Cheapism price range.

Cordless Phones Features.

Walking while talking isn't the only convenience cheap cordless phones offer -- there are also modern-day necessities such as call waiting, caller ID, phonebook, and speakerphone. Caller ID, call waiting, and a phone directory are all standard equipment on the phones we researched, although the size of the directories varies. The Vtech CS6719, Panasonic KX-TG6512B, and Panasonic KX-TG4011N feature 50-entry directories while the Vtech CS6114, Motorola L601, and GE 28522AE1 max out at 30 entries. The Uniden UN-D1760 beats the bunch with a phonebook that can store up to 100 entries.

Among the models discussed here, only the GE 28522AE1 features a built-in answering machine. Voicemail is now the more popular option, though, and all the other cordless phones support voicemail messaging that's maintained and billed by the service provider.

Our research found that users clearly appreciate cordless phones with a speakerphone option, and the lack of this feature in the Vtech CS6114 sparks a bit of carping. The Vtech CS6719, one of our top picks, goes one step better with a full-duplex speakerphone that eliminates sound blackouts when two or more people on the call speak at once.

Some cordless phones have backlit displays and/or keypads, which promises easier viewing of display data and easier number-punching in low-light conditions. Backlights for both components show up on the Vtech CS6719 and CS6114. The Panasonic KX-TG6512B, Uniden UN-D1760, and Motorola L601 light the keypad only and the GE 28522AE1 sheds light exclusively on the display. Curiously, the Panasonic KX-TG4011N omits a backlight for both. Where one or the other is missing, users express their displeasure in online reviews.

The Panasonic KX-TG6512B boasts several features the competition lacks, and they earn occasional shout-outs from users who posted at Amazon. The headset jack is a much appreciated convenience and the ability to block calls from specific numbers means no more calls from pesky telemarketers or anyone else you care to freeze out. This model also offers four-way conferencing, as does its sibling the Panasonic KX-TG4011N.

Cordless Phones Battery.

Battery life is an important performance factor, one that experts say has been significantly improved by DECT 6.0 technology. Based on the feedback we've seen in user reviews, this is indeed true. Few reviewers mention battery life, and those that do carp about problems with the initial charge or with a handset's ability to retain a charge over time; such comments show up for all the models we researched. A few reports also pop up here and there about total breakdowns within the first year.

Cordless phone batteries usually last about two years. When the time comes to replace one, remember that certain batteries go with certain phones and you should always buy the battery that matches the particular model. Most cordless phones use a rechargeable nickel metal hydride (NiMH) battery, which may cost almost as much as a new phone. Both the Panasonic KX-TG6512B and KX-TG4011N break the mold with two easy-to-find rechargeable AAA NiMH batteries as their power source -- an engineering feat users appreciate.

Cordless Phones Range.

DECT 6.0 technology has significantly improved the range of the current generation of cordless phones -- about two to three times the distance possible with the earlier 5.8GHz-generation of cordless phones. Note, however, that the effective range with either technology may be limited by factors such as population density and the construction materials used in a home or building. In other words, a cordless phone's range partly depends on where you're making or receiving the call.

Having said that, we saw nary a complaint about range with any of the phones we researched. All are DECT 6.0 phones, and it's clear this technology has sufficiently expanded cordless phone range to the point where buyers seem totally satisfied with it.

Additional Products We Considered

GE 28522AE1 Review

From $30

This phone from GE is one of the few budget models with an integrated answering machine but users critique its call quality.

Users' GE 28522AE1 reviews are limited in number and relatively unenthusiastic. At Walmart a few approve of the aesthetics and user-friendly menus, but more grumble about irritants like low volume, garbled sound, and a ringer that isn't loud enough. A similar range of comments show up in reviews at Amazon where one user reports hearing a lot of static and believing himself to sound like a robot while talking.

Unlike most models in the budget price range, the GE 28522AE1 (starting at $30/one handset, Best Buy) includes an integrated answering system that can record up to 20 minutes of messages. This phone package comes with just one handset but the model can support a total of four. It offers caller ID and call waiting and features a speakerphone, a 30-name/number directory, a backlit LCD display, and a ringer silencer. The GE 28522AE1 also boasts an Energy Star.

A cordless phone's features and low price aren't important if the call clarity is compromised, and GE 28522AE1 reviews indicate this model delivers less than satisfactory audio quality. That alone is enough reason to pass on it. We found other low-cost cordless phones that meet a higher standard for performance and features.

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Motorola L601 Review

From $21

Motorola L601 reviews indicate this is a pretty good cordless phone in terms of performance, but concerns about durability and build quality crop up with some frequency. At Newegg, for example, the clear reception and range (up to 150 feet with a straight line of sight in a factory, notes one review) win nods of approval while limited battery life and problems charging earn a few demerits. Keypad malfunctions, low voice and ringer volume, clunky menu controls, excessively light weight, and total product failure disappoint some users who commented at Amazon. On the other hand, a majority of reviews at this site commend its simplicity, functionality, and quality sound.

Like others in its class, the cordless Motorola L601 (starting at $21/one handset, Amazon) is a DECT 6.0 phone with a 30-entry contact directory, caller ID, and call waiting. It features a speakerphone, backlit LCD display, and nine-number speed-dial memory. It supports up to four additional handsets, and if you put one down and don't remember where, there's a locator to help you find it.

On balance, the Motorola L601 is a decent quality basic phone, but we found others at a similar price point that may prove more satisfactory in the long run.

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