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Buyer Beware - Misleading 5.8 GHz phones


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19 replies to this topic

#1 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 12 2005 - 10:38 AM

I was shopping for a replacement for my current 2.4GHz cordless phone today because it keeps interfering with the 802.11g network I installed at home.

I specifically wanted a 5.8GHz model so I wouldn't have to worry about conflicting with my wireless home network.

I found a nice looking 5.8GHz Vtech at Wal-Mart with 3 handsets. Looked nice, and 5.8GHz -- perfect, right? I thought so. I bought it over lunch and during the day I took a look at the manual. Back on the technical specifications page, the truth revealed itself. Yeah, the phone base did transmit to the handset at 5.8GHz, but the handset transmitted back at 2.4GHz!

What B.S. Nowhere else on the packaging or in the manual did it mention this. I think it's wrong for the company to advertise a phone as 5.8GHz if it actually uses both 5.8GHz and 2.4GHz.

The only reason I looked was because I had read yesterday in consumer reports that a couple of phones advertised as 5.8GHz actually used both frequencies. What a crock.

Had I not specifically looked for this, I probably would have been scratching my head as to why my '5.8GHz' phone was interfering with my 2.4GHz network.

Anyway, I took the phone back to Wal-Mart and picked up a 3 Handset Panasonic. Before actually purchasing it, I pulled out the manual and checked the technical specifications. The Panasonic was in fact a true 5.8GHz phone, transmitting in that frequency for both the handsets and the base.

So anyone else out there looking for a 5.8GHz phone to avoid network interference, be sure to look past the box and check out the technical specs.

#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Matt Stryker

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Posted October 12 2005 - 12:17 PM

Does anyone else have one of these? I'd love to hear some comments on actual range/distance experienced in the real world.

Here in Mexico, my coworkers and I have 1 Vonage-based IP phone, but we live in 3 seperate apartments that are about 500 meters at the farthest from where the phone line is. So a 5.8 Ghz setup with multiple handsets/charging bases would be a great fit to let us all have a phone at home that we can call the US easily with.

Bryan - After experiencing the same problems you are talking about (802.x networks, microwaves, you name it interfering with my 2.4 Ghz cordless) I went back and bought a GE 900 MHz spread-spectrum phone. The spread-spectrum part made all the difference. So if you can't find a 5.8 that works without interference, you might see if they have any 900 MHz spread-spectrum phones and give them a try.

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   SethH

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Posted October 12 2005 - 12:19 PM

That's very interesting. I was unaware that many of those phones used 2.4GHz as well. Quick question though, did you do any troubleshooting with your network before buying a new phone. I thought it was pretty easy to simply switch the channel being used by the network. Perhaps it's more involved than that, but I've yet to have any trouble with mine.

#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 12 2005 - 12:30 PM

Yeah, sometimes you can switch the channel of your wireless network to try to minimize the interference. But I didn't go that route since my old 2.4GHz cordless phone used spread spectrum technology.

Phones using spread spectrum technology hop from frequency to frequency across the entire spectrum. Because 2.4GHz Spread Spectrum phones jump across the entire 2.4GHz frequency they will clobber an 802.11 network no matter what channel it is set to.

#5 of 20 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted October 12 2005 - 01:20 PM

This strikes me as a strange thread because I've had a wireless network (802.1b, just upgraded to 802.1g) for years and a wireless 2.4ghz phone system and have never had an interference problem. None. Zip. Nada. The base unit is in the kitchen, far from the home office, where the wireless router/gateway is, and there's a corded phone in there. But I normally have one of the handsets on the table right next to the laptop I'm typing this on and mere feet from by 2nd TiVo, both of which have wireless G NICs, and neither of which has given me a hiccup in months. I guess your mileage may vary, but I'm pretty sure my phones also user spread spectrum and I'm just not seeing the problems that (some) other people report with these installations. Maybe isolating the base and not (usually) using a cordless around the gateway/router makes the difference.

Regards,

Joe

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 12 2005 - 01:33 PM

As you indicate it's not the case that a 2.4GHz will always interfere with a wireless network. As you know there are lots of variables with wireless transmission in the environment that could increase or decrease the incidence of interference.

Unfortunately in my case, the phone signal just overpowered the wireless network. So I just decided to go with a 5.8GHz phone system to have the peace of mind that I won't have to worry about it anymore.

Maybe I could have found a 2.4GHz phone that would have worked with my network, but then there'd always be the chance that down the road some variable in my house could change that would make it incompatible.

Which brings me back to my original point. If a company is going to plaster 5.8GHz on a phone and box, it'd better damn well be 5.8GHz all the way. No excuse for that.

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   SarahG

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Posted October 13 2005 - 09:40 AM

I have a 2.4ghz phone I use with my SunRocket voip service. It works pretty well, but I have nothing to compare it to because I've never used the 5.8. For my purposes, believe me, 2.4 is all I probably need. I'll stick with them until I feel I need to upgrade.
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#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Grant B

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Posted October 13 2005 - 01:44 PM

I stop at 900Megs.
My wife picked up a 2.4 that sounded horrible under 25 feet &
Nothing over 25. Played with it and got no where.
If you read carefully foil faced insulation wipes the signal out. Most homes don't have interior wall insulation but I insulated every wall for sound .....I basically shielded my house from wireless which is fine by me.

Something good to know for those who are doing some remodeling
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#9 of 20 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted October 13 2005 - 02:14 PM

Quote:
The Panasonic was in fact a true 5.8GHz phone
You can't go wrong with Panasonic for phones. I've stuck by them for YEARS! Last year I purchased a 5.8gHz Uniden from Wal-Mart (under an ex's recommendation) and it was the WORST phone ever!

I used to live behind my parents house (in a mother-in-law apt.) and my Pansonic 2.4gHz would work in my parents house, but the Uniden never worked anywhere near the same distance - and it was supposedly a 5.8gHz!!!!

Anyways, I replaced that piece of **** with the Panasonic 5.8gHz (with the 2 satellites) and couldn't be happier. Now I have to wonder if the Uniden really WAS a true 5.8gHz like they said??? Hmmm?

#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 13 2005 - 02:28 PM

Glad to hear you've had good experience with Panasonic phones. This 5.8GHz 3 handset system I bought is the first Panasonic phone I've had.

So far I'm very pleased with it. I've only had a day to test it, though.

#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted October 14 2005 - 06:41 AM

Strictly anecdotal but I swear, I had far less problems with the earliest cordless phones. I could go a couple of hundred feet outside and never have any interference or other problems. Anybody still make those and if so, what frequencies did they operate at?

#12 of 20 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted October 14 2005 - 06:45 AM

Chu, the earlier ones probably worked better because there was no interference. Now that everything else is wireless, those old phones may not work as far as they used to.

Plus, they were probably analog...

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   SarahG

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Posted October 17 2005 - 01:59 AM

Quote:
You can't go wrong with Panasonic for phones. I've stuck by them for YEARS! Last year I purchased a 5.8gHz Uniden from Wal-Mart (under an ex's recommendation) and it was the WORST phone ever!

I've heard the Panasonics are good phones. SunRocket gave us the Uniden's and we don't find anything wrong with them. The reception is good, the features on the phone are fairly easy to understand, and they do sound pretty good.
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#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Peter Burtch

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Posted October 17 2005 - 02:39 PM

I guess there's always going to be a few bad apples.

My previous two Panasonic cordless phones were junk compared to my current Vtech 5.8MHz phones. The sound quality is a heck of a lot better than before. I only have a problem with my Linksys wireless 'G' router if I physically place the handset within a couple of feet. Some folks have reported the alternate firmwares to be a solution even though it doesn't change the way the phone operates per se.

The only other change I know is I switched from SBC to Comcast digital phone about the same time I got the Vtech phones. There's less static and clearer voices on my current phone system/line than I had w/ Ameritech/SBC.

-Pedro

#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 25 2005 - 10:26 AM

Speaking of bad apples, one of the small extra charger units won't charge any of the handsets anymore.

This is the $175 Panasonic 3 handset system I bought only 2 weeks ago.

So I call Panasonic figuring that they will replace it since it's basically a small piece of plastic with a small circuit board in it. Nothing expensive.

They tell me that the charger units aren't convered under warranty! You pay nearly $200 for a phone system and they won't even cover all of the hardware that comes with it.

Ridiculous. I'm already done yelling at two customer service reps and am on hold right now. I started off calm with each one, but that didn't last long. I know I shouldn't verbally abuse them, but d@amn, this pi$$es me off.

#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Drue Elrick

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Posted October 25 2005 - 12:29 PM

Panasonic is not blameless in the cordless phone world either. I bought a Panasonic 2.4 GHz phone a few years back and guess what? It was only 2.4 from base to handset. 900 MHz back. This crucial information was buried at the back of the manual, inside the box, with no mention of it outside. The quality was passable, but I bought a 2.4 phone for 2.4, not 900.

To this day I will not buy a Panasonic cordless phone unless I can read the manual ahead of time. Even then, the question lingers in my mind. Panasonic hasn't learned, otherwise their packaging would be clear on this matter. Right now, its a bunch of marketing-speak. I have to look very closely at phones now.

#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Bryan X

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Posted October 25 2005 - 12:32 PM

Quote:
To this day I will not buy a Panasonic cordless phone unless I can read the manual ahead of time.

I've learned to do that regardless of the manufacturer.

#18 of 20 OFFLINE   SarahG

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Posted October 26 2005 - 04:42 AM

Interesting. I'll have to check out the manual on the uniden I got. It's the set's been nothing but great, but I'd be interested to find out.
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#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Eric_L

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Posted November 12 2005 - 11:25 AM

Quote:
You can't go wrong with Panasonic for phones. I've stuck by them for YEARS! Last year I purchased a 5.8gHz Uniden from Wal-Mart (under an ex's recommendation) and it was the WORST phone ever!


Mark

I've been away for a while - so sorry for the late nature of my post. My spouse bout the Uniden POS and the range is about 30 feet. They get crap reviews on Amazon.

I downloaded the manual and it specifies the phone uses 900 mhz range as well as 5500 mhz. It does not specify how these two frequencies are uses - it only talks about 5500 mhz 'extended range' all over it. Wouldn't it be nice to see the FCC get on them for misleading advertizing?

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   MarkHastings

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Posted November 12 2005 - 04:21 PM

Quote:
They get crap reviews on Amazon.
I'm not surprised. Besides the crappy range, there were a few other things that irked me about the phone.

For one, the phone doesn't have a confirmation beep when you put it in the charger. Sometimes, I accidentally don't put the handset completely in the charger....I like how my Panny gives me a confirm beep so I know I've put it back successfully.

Also, the dialing on the phone is SO FREAKIN' ANNOYING!!!! Posted Image The sound of the button beeps are not in synch with the tone beep of the phone, thus it makes dialing EXTREMELY difficult!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's hard to explain, but I always used to mess up dialing a number because of this.

Anyways, I was at Target one day and I overheard the salesperson talking someone out of a Uniden and suggesting the Panny. He said "Most people don't like Uniden" - I (of course) had to give my 2 cents Posted Image


EDIT: I forgot to add, when I'd call the Uniden Answering machine from my cell phone, it never would accept the code I entered (to listen to new messages). I had to change my phone to long beeps and still it took several attempts for it to register. Posted Image


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