VTech has a solution to both of the problems that Tech Savvy Daddy has been complaining about so since he’s so passionate about the death of the landline and is the phone guru (currently working to develop the 4G wireless network!) in the house, I turned him loose to review the VTech DS6321-3 Digital Expandable Three Handset Cordless Phone System that turned out to be impressive in both style and function.
The VTech DS6321-3 ($99.95) is in the form of a multi-handset cordless phone that connects to your landline (if you still have one) and multiple cell phones. It will connect to 4 cell phones, but can only talk to 2 of them at once. It’s essentially a 3-line cordless phone system, wired into your home phone line, and using Bluetooth to connect to the cell phones.
I’ve been a big fan of those cordless multi-handset phone systems for several years. I first saw them in Japan in 1999, a year or so before they hit the US big-time. The latest feature in the evolution of these systems has been the addition of Bluetooth to link up to both “his” and “hers” mobile phones.
I looked at a system a while ago that claimed it could connect to a mobile phone via Bluetooth, but it was way to expensive. The VTech DS6321-3 is a 3-handset cordless phone bundle with Bluetooth connections to cell phones that retails for $100. That’s only $33 a handset, a good price for any cordless phone, let alone with Bluetooth.
After plugging it into the wall for a few hours, I picked up the handset and immediately tried the most complex task I could think of: Connecting it with and downloading the directory from my Blackberrry 8800.
I hit the menu button, saw “Bluetooth”, and dove in. It took me a minute or so of button pushing on the Blackberry and the VTech, but I successfully connected the two of them on the first try without having to pick up the manual.
Next, I downloaded my entire Outlook address book (600+ records) into the VTech. I started it and walked away. I came back in a few minutes, and it was still working. It shows you the number of records it transfers. After a little while, I checked it, and it was complete. It transferred my entire address book with all of its various names, phone numbers, number types, etc. It didn’t choke on any of the data. Previous cell phones I have had will choke on the lengths of some of the fields, or having too many entries. But the VTech phone ate it all up without complaint. It didn’t timeout during the sync either, something I see pretty often when syncing mobile devices.
About 30 minutes later, the VTech phone started ringing. My boss called. The Vtech screen caller ID showed his name and that he was calling from his mobile phone. Cool!
Setup Part 2
The next evening, I went looking for Tech Savvy Mama’s iPhone. After I found it in the bottomless depths of something called a “purse,” I tried to connect it as well. I went to the Bluetooth screen on the iPhone, and used the VTech menu to say I wanted to add another cell phone, and in a minute or so, it was connected as well. I downloaded her address book as well. She wins the address book race with 967 entries. I only had 893. Maybe I’d have more if I was willing to join Facebook. ☹ Anyway, back to the phone.
One really nice feature is that it keeps 3 directories; one for any locally entered phone numbers (in the phone), and the one from each cell phone. You pick which directory you want to view, and then can scroll through it. Unfortunately, it lists each person one time for each phone number they have. So if an entry has 3 entries (home, work, cell), I have to scroll down three times to get past it.
With 800+ entries in the directory, I found that the way to find someone was to type their name using the phone keypad. I searched for “Amy” by tapping it out on the keypad and then pushing menu/select that has a search icon on the screen above it. It immediately showed me Amy. I had several people named Amy, so I could scroll down to see them. Pretty simple.
To make the best use of this phone set, you should put the VTech base station within 30 feet of the place where your cell phone typically sits. Most of us have a table, countertop, or a junk area where the car keys, spare change, unopened mail, and the cell phone chargers are. When you come home, you put down your cell phone (and charge it if necessary) in this location, within range of the VTech. The VTech picks up the signal from your cell phone, and then is able to send and receive calls from your cell phone.
Later in the evening, when you’re brushing your teeth upstairs and someone calls on the cell phone, you’ll hear the ringing and be able to answer it from any of the VTech remote handsets. The whole time, your cell phone is peacefully resting/charging downstairs.
The VTech system is expandable up to 12 handsets. So unless your house was recently featured on MTV’s Cribs, this is big enough for your house. Most systems only go to 8 handsets, but since the VTech does 12, I’ll take that back. I think 12 handsets is enough for anyone’s crib. Who needs more than 12 handsets?
The system uses a different ringtone for each phone line, allowing you to know whether it’s the landline or the cell phone you’re running for. You can assign a different ringtone and volume for each phone line on each handset. This way, you can have your mobile phone only ring certain rooms of the house. For example, you might not want it ringing in the kids’ rooms or your bedroom.
The large LCD screen shows the caller ID number and name. It pulls names from its copy of your cell phone address book, making the caller ID much more useful.
The phones have big buttons and a huge LCD screen. The button layout is well positioned too. Your aging parents should be able to use it without knowing half of what it’s capable of doing. With the big print buttons, they shouldn’t have to reach for their glasses. The simplicity of the handset definitely helps with the “Wife Acceptance Factor.”
I placed several calls easily and without any troubles. The Bluetooth connection sounded just fine and worked flawlessly.
The multi-handset system is capable of two different conversations at once. One person can be on a call with the landline, and another can make a call with one of the cell phones, but it’s not possible to make two cell calls at once.
The device has one Bluetooth radio. It can be paired with up to 4 mobile phones, but it can only talk with two of them at once. Of those two, it can’t take a call on both cell phones at once. If I call comes in for Tech Savvy Mama’s iPhone and she takes it on the VTech, the VTech disconnects from my Blackberry since it is unable to place or accept a call from it. Once she hangs up with her mother, the VTech immediately re-connects to my Blackberry. From a nerdy prospective, it makes sense.
The downside is that if I am upstairs near the VTech, I think it will ring if my Blackberry gets a call. But if TechSavvyMama is on her iPhone using the VTech, I could miss calls on the Blackberry. To handle both cell phones at once, the VTech would need a 2nd Bluetooth radio, which would increase cost of the unit substantially. It wouldn’t be price competitive, and WalMart wouldn’t carry it. That’s the price-competitive, technology slashing reality of the US Consumer Electronics Market.
Regardless, I think it’s a great cordless phone system to use with a landline and “his” and “her” cell phones.
The phone has all of the features you would expect in a multi-handset cordless phone: digital answering machine, handset locator, intercom, etc.
I’ve got only two complaints about the system, which are really quite minor.
- No headset jack. When I am working from home, I spend most of my days on long conference calls. Most people probably never use the headset jack, but I definitely miss it.
- No belt clip. This isn’t such a big deal as the phones are thin enough to put in your pocket. Tech Savvy Mama does not miss the belt clip feature at all. “Too nerdy and not at all stylish,” she says.
If you’re constantly missing cell phone calls while at home, this is a great system. If you’re looking for a new cordless phone, definitely consider getting this one with the Bluetooth feature. You’ll find the cell phone connection feature extremely useful.
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about the features of the VTech DS6321-3 that make it appealing enough to replace your current phone. Be sure to include your e-mail address or your Twitter handle so I can contact you when you win.
For extra entries, you must leave a comment about the features as specified above and then do any of the following:
- Tweet this and then leave a link to your Tweet in your comment: @TechSavvyMama is giving away a VTech DS6321-3 for Valentine’s Day courtesy of @VTech411. Enter here: http://tr.im/NgyQ You may Tweet the giveaway once a day.
- Follow VTech on Twitter (@VTech411) and come back letting me know you have done so.
- Leave a comment letting me know who else, besides your significant other, you are most likely to call on Valentine’s Day.
Winner will be chosen via Random.org on Valentine’s Day. Winning entry must contain an e-mail address.
Review unit provided by VTech. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are our own.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama