How fantastic is the idea that you can add additional wireless handsets to your existing cell phone, using the same service and number throughout your home or office? We were excited to try out the new Panasonic KX-TG7642M - come see if it lived up to the anticipation of a link-to-cell system and how well it performed.
The phone system came in a compact box with all of its contents tightly jammed in - a nice change of pace from all of the excess packaging tech sometimes comes with. Quite a lot of stuff was packed in the box, including the main answering unit / dock, extension dock, two headsets, two power plugs, and phone cord. The four AAA rechargeable Ni-MH batteries were even included, two for each handset. There were even little belt clips for the handsets, but we doubt those will get much use. A fun little thing we first noticed upon unboxing the phone was that the quick start instructions were printed right on the box on the inside flap. What a great way to save some trees - until we noticed a replicate quick guide and 100 page instruction manual!
As a regular old land line phone, the system works as expected. Panasonic has always had a strong showing with their phones, and it all just plain works. You can check messages from the base unit, any of the handsets, or remotely. The size of the phone makes it nice and easy to cradle while you're walking around the house or your hands are otherwise occupied.
The system follows the trend of cordless phone systems where only the base unit needs to be connected to the phone line itself. The additional cordless handsets are paired to the base unit and can be spread throughout the house. Our review unit came with 2 handsets (one for the dock and one separate unit) and you can buy additional ones as well.
The system played nice with my Magic Jack telephone system, which was a good discovery/relief. Another equally great bonus is the ability to pair a Bluetooth headset to the Panasonic system itself, so that you can use a Bluetooth headset for making land line calls.
This is the feature we've all been waiting for - how's the Bluetooth cell phone connection work, is it any good? The instructions to sync your cellphone to the handset was fairly straight forward and we were up and running in no time. With Bluetooth left on all the time, simply walking into range resumes the pairing and the handset becomes connected again. We had it paired to both the Panasonic phone system as well as our Bluetooth and they all rang at once. The system even lets you pair two cell phones at a time.
Incoming calls rang both the cellphone and handset, although it was very jarring at first and took some getting used to in having a regular phone ring all throughout the house (one handset in the living room and the other in the bedroom) as well. The volume was extraordinarily loud compared to a cell phone ringer, and we quickly adjusted it down. While you can sync your address book across the two units, the handset unfortunately doesn't display the name of the caller, only their number, although it does speak it out loud. Unfortunately with smartphones no one ever knows anyone's actual number, so that feature doesn't really do all that much good.
Outgoing calls were something else though. There's a separate CELL button instead of the standard TALK button that you use to access the cell phone. You can dial from the handset using the synced address book or by punching in numbers, but really it's so much easier to find numbers via our smartphone if it's nearby. Once dialing, switching to the handset was hit or miss. Sometimes clicking the handset option on the phone would straight up get rejected. Sometimes it would say it was on but the handset would be silent and no one could hear me speak either. We found that if we waited a beat after the call was connected and *then transferred it over to the handset that this worked most of the time. Very frustrating though.
The voice quality was absolutely fantastic, and the speakerphone actually works quite well. Picking up the call from the handset had a very small amount of lag, but it was easy to get used to, waiting a slight beat before saying hello. Our parents from a landline generation weren't so used to the slight pause, and were saying hello, hello, hello on their end sometimes before we first uttered a word.
Battery life was okay, but not great. You'll want to remember to set it in the cradle now and again. With the way our current smartphones need to be charged every half a day, this shouldn't be too big of a deal. We went a few days with sporadic use between charges on the Panasonic handset.
In summary, the Panasonic KX-TG7642M is a very nice phone system. As a regular cordless phone and answering system for the home or small office it excels. As a Bluetooth connected handset for your smartphone it's a solid performer, but could use a little refinement in its usability. All things being said we liked the extra bonus of being able to use our cell phone with extra wireless handsets, and the Panasonic delivers on that feature. A solid recommend for a fair price of around $80 especially with the Bluetooth feature, particularly if you're buying a land line phone system anyway. The system is so close to a strong recommend, if only the cell transfer was a smoother process. So close!
Pros: Nice hefty size (it's a real phone!), physical buttons, fantastic call quality
Cons: Frustrating to toggle between cell phone and handset, mediocre battery life
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images from Panasonic, Jason Yang)