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Conumer Buyer Guide Giga What? Analog or digital? Cordless phone guide

Portable & Cord less Phone Consumer Buying Guide

2.4 ghz VS 5.4 GHZ Better Range ?

COnsumer Buying Guide
Early cord less phones had a very limited range, allowing us only a limited freedom from the base unit. The quality of sound on the early cordless phones was also an issue, with static interference, tinny sound and echoing lines being common place. Probably the most frustrating aspect of this early technology was the shared conversations people with cordless phones would inadvertently have with neighbours with baby monitors, similar phones and radio scanners. Freedom came with a price.

Today, telecommunication technology has evolved and has found ways to overcome these earlier problems. The range of the cordless phones has been extended, the sound quality has been improved, and there are now phones on the market that include features to protect the privacy of your calls.

Making the selection that is right for you requires you to examine the likely uses you will have for your new phone.

The cordless phones available use either analog, digital and Digital Spread spectrum technology, and understanding the differences between these 3 kinds of units is a important start to making the right buying decision.


Analog phones broadcast directly from the base unit to the cordless handset using the available bandwidth.


Digital phones use a digital encryption to secure the signal they send to the handset, thereby increasing the security of the transmission and ensuring the privacy of the conversation.

Digital Spread Spectrum phones also digitize their transmission, but also employ an increased bandwidth that results in a better sounding signal and an even more secure line.


In wireless telecommunications, the higher the frequency used to broadcast the signal, the better. High frequency is good. Higher frequencies are better. Understanding the range of available frequency of the cordless phone you choose is an important part of the buying process. As cordless phones develop, so does the technology that they use, and with the emergence of 2.4 and 5.8 Gigahertz (GHz) phones, the possibilities increase.

46-49 Megahertz (MHZ) - The downside to being popular:

The old standard for cordless phones used to be in the 46-49 MHZ range. The downside of being popular is space. These phones are so common it seems everybody has one and with only 25 available channels, it can get pretty crowded on the available bandwidth. Bleeding conversations and cross talk are becoming more common with these models. Even with their rapidly falling prices, these phones are not recommended to consumers who value the privacy of their phone conversations.

900 Megahertz (MHz) - the new standard:

Currently the standard frequency that the handsets of analog phones use to transmit information to the base is 900 Megahertz (MHz). This expanded bandwidth has more room and more channels so the likelihood of cross-talk is minimized (although not eliminated). Sound quality on this phone is also better than its 46-49 MHZ counterpart.

In the digital unit, the established advantage of improved clarity and range are complimented by the fact that the digitized transmission enhances the security of the line.

900 MHz Digital Spread Spectrum - for a more private conversation:
This operates like traditional 900 MHz phones but with a sort of encryption system that prevents other appliances, such as your neighbour's 900 MHz phone or baby monitor, from picking up on your conversations. Further good news about this technology is that the enhanced signal, called a spread spectrum transmission has the kind of extra space that ensures less interference and a greater sound quality. This cordless phone also allows you to go further - with nearly twice the range of its analog counterpart, this phone is perfect as a backyard BBQ-ing and yard work companion.

2.4 GHz: Higher frequency - sounding better from further away:

In the analog units, the 2.4 GHz phones offer improved sound quality, security and range.

In the digital unit, similar improvements are seen, the most notable of which is the improved range.

In the digital spread spectrum units, the true advantage of the increased capacity becomes clear. This unit uses two separate frequencies, a 2.4 GHz band on the transmitter and a 900 MHz band on the receiver and offers clearer sound quality and less interference. The range on these phones can be up to five times greater than their 900 MGZ counterpart.

5.8 GHz

Like 2.4 GHz phones, 5.8 GHz also offers digital security protection, but also provides even greater sound quality and range than 2.4 GHz.

The advantage of being at the forefront of the market in offering this frequency, is that, unlike the 46-49 MHz models, these high frequency bands are not yet hosting many travelers, so the likelihood of your calls being overheard is significantly reduced. 5.8 GHz phones have even less interference simply because there are fewer things to interfere with it. The result is outstanding sound clarity and unparalleled range.

Battling for Range:

There is some controversy over whether the 5.8 GHz phone really does have better range than its 2.4 GHz counterpart - and the answer to this question is both "YES it does" and "NO it doesn't."

Higher frequencies can move past solid structures more effectively than low frequencies.

If you were to test the 2.4 GHz and the 5.8 GHz phones on an empty open field, their range would most definitely be comparable. So if you live on a large open piece of land, there may indeed be no real advantage to upgrading to the 5.8 GHz unit.

Most of us, however, do not live in vast open areas, and the signal from our base unit to the handset generally has to travel around and through walls, trees, power lines and other similar obstacles. In these cases, the 5.8 GHz unit can accurately boast a cleaner signal over a bigger range.


All phones offer a variety of optional features from caller ID to built-in answering machines. The cordless phone is no exception, and many models have these special features available.

Caller ID simply means that the name and number of the person calling you can be displayed on the phone, allowing you to know who is calling even before you answer the phone. This is a monthly service through your phone company (See your local utility for rates) and would need to be active for the feature to work. Without the service activated, the display will remain blank.

Some phones have the Caller ID display on the base unit, while others have it on the handset. Some people favour the display on the handset believing that they are more likely to answer the phone with the handset, while others like it on the base for those occasions when the handset is not available..

The Caller ID feature is worth considering even if you do not currently have Caller ID currently. It is always good to think ahead and if there is a chance you might use the caller ID service down the road, you won't need to buy any additional equipment to display it.

Digital Consumer Buying Guide Digital Answering Machines are also available on some phones as well. They operate similar to traditional answering machines, playing a brief message to callers and allowing them to leave messages, except that they record this information digitally on a memory chip, so there is no more need for tapes. They can be accessed remotely, which means you can retrieve your messages from an outside phone line.

Some digital answering machines have additional features like a dual greeting which allows you to keep two standard greetings recorded. This allows you to alternate between a greeting that says "I'm at home, but either on the line or away from the phone" to one that says simply "None is available to take your call, please leave your name and number and we'll get back to you".

Other features that are available include multi-user mailboxes, time and date stamps on messages, voice recognition mail retrieval, and even auto-interrupt which disconnects the answering machine when you pick up the line.

Digital Answering Machines are normally built into the base of the phone so they take up less space than traditional answering machines as well, with fewer cords to connect.

Paging is another useful feature offered by most cordless phone manufacturers. From allowing you to find lost handsets to acting as an intercom system from the handset to the base unit, this feature has many applications.

A speakerphone on the base unit is another popular feature. Not only does it allow you hands free operation of the phone, it also allows you to use it when the handset is not available.

Multi-talking - customize your family phone system:

With the introduction of 2.4 GHz technology, a new system was developed where multiple cordless handsets can all share the same base, eliminating the need for phone line extensions placed throughout your house.

Using a single phone system that shares a common base unit (using only a single jack), all the extensions work together to provide you with the best phone service possible. Each additional handset you purchase for this system has its own cradle that allows you to re-charge the unit.

One of the many advantages of this system is that when an extension is in use it cannot be interrupted. If another extension is picked up while the line is in use, the call cannot be overheard.

These phones have built in on-screen phone books of up to 100 names and numbers. Some models have infrared data transfer ports so you can transfer your phones feature to a new phone, rather than reprogramming it, which can prove to be a useful and a convenient feature if you are planning for additional units for the office or cottage.

With the advances in cordless phone technology, more and more people are electing to un-tether themselves from their corded phone jacks and roam free with their phones. With the improvements in range, clarity and security, the appeal of these phones is increasing, making it one of the fastest growing categories in consumer electronics.

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