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Pros/Cons Retiring Vtech LS5145 for Panasonic KX-TG7745S
, June 8, 2012
This review is from: Panasonic KX-TG7745S Link2Cell Bluetooth Cellular Convergence Solution with 5 Handset (Office Product)
After four years with my Bluetooth enabled cell phone linking Vtech LS5145 base station and additional LS5105 handsets, the Panasonic KX-TG7745S appeared to be the answer to resolving my battery pack replacement blues while also leveraging newer "advanced" technologies to hopefully improve my phone configuration while simultaneously retaining a comparable feature set. Going into the exchange, I had high hopes that the Panasonic, with four years of technology advancement, would exceed my expectations in most, if not all, areas of performance compared to my old Vtech LS5145/LS5105 phone set; however, the experience has fallen just a bit shy of what I was hoping for. For what it's worth to others who may be at a similar cross-roads, here are my observations/impression following the "upgrade:"
Pros (with notes comparing to my old Vtech LS5145 + LS5105 handsets):
- DECT 6.0 Digital Enhanced Communications between handsets and base station ( IIRC, my old Vtech model was unencrypted spread spectrum )
- Talking Caller ID ( Pretty cool as my old Vtech phones did not talk... )
- Standard AAA NiMH Rechargeable Batteries instead of custom battery pack ( For comparison, my old Vtech uses custom battery pack BT5872 )
- Link 2 Cell Phones via Bluetooth (Supports one linked cell call and one landline call simultaneously, same as my old Vtech)
- 30 Number Call blocking (No call blocking on VTech, IIRC)
- 18 Minutes record capability (I believe the Vtech did something on the order of 15 min instead)
- 13 Hour Talk Time (Advertised at least... and the old VTechs are nowhere close at an advertised 4.5 hours talk time, IIRC)
- Backlit keypads (Old VTech keypad was backlit as well, though I'm not sure one is better than the other, but back-lighting is good!)
- No annoyingly bright power/charge/locator light (Old VTech lit room up at night with bright blue light...)
- Cellular Only mode if you've gotten rid of your land-line (Must admit I don't know how/if the Vtech handled this scenario as I've always had a land line)
- Base and Handsets have speaker phone capability (Seemingly comparable to my old Vtech model)
- Intercom Capability between handsets (Had hoped functionality would be equivalent to the Vtech, but have yet to figure out how to do a "global" intercom to all other handsets)
- Total feature set somewhat comparable (except, apparently, the Vtech global intercom function, and the Vtech battery backup on base station)
- Big plus: 5 handset set readily available for not much more that what it would cost me to replace the failing battery packs in my 5 Vtech handsets and base station.
Cons (At least as compared to the old VTech phones)
- DECT 6.0 is supposed to provide better sound quality, but I'm not convinced as the new phones seem to have a constant "static hiss/noise" that I'd never really noted in the Vtechs.
- VTech was able to intercom call to all handsets simultaneously as well as 1 to 1... only been able to do 1 to 1 on Panasonic (so far, at least...)
- Monotone handset display as compared to VTech color handset display
- Maximum of 6 possible handsets total compared to, I believe, 12 for the VTech
- Charger Bases and phones feel lighter/cheaper than old VTech, in my opinion at least
- Not as sleek and designer-esque as the old VTech Phones, again, in my opinion at least
- Apparently, No Backup power on the base station... which is odd because the previous Panasonic model (KX-TG7645) apparently had it (VTech has battery backup in base unit)
- Durability compared to old VTech TBD...
So it's really something of a "mixed bag." The Panasonics appear to be, more or less, feature-comparable phones with new batteries and, supposedly, more secure wireless communications than before ( I was previously banking on the spread spectrum stuff making the VTech phones pretty hard to listen in to, but now DECT 6.0 supposedly provides digital encryption, the strength of which might be somewhat questionable, on top of what I can only hope is some form of spread spectrum with frequency hopping communications... though I can't seem to confirm any of this on Panasonic's website, so depending on how mandatory the security features are on any given DECT 6.0 Plus implementation the Panasonics "may" be more secure). I'm just a bit concerned that I can't seem to find any Panasonic literature addressing the security aspects/features of this phone. On the positive side, the cost was not much more than the battery replacement cost would have been for the VTech phones. Biggest disappointment so far is the background static noise that will probably irritate me more the more I continue to think about it. Just might be enough of a reason not to recommend these phones... but the talking caller ID is really cool! The Panasonic model (KX-TG7645) from last year got really good reviews and this year's model (KX-TG7745) simply appears to be a refresh with better iPhone integration, so I figured this year's model would be as good, if not better than, last year's. Perhaps that's where I went wrong? Anyone compared a KX-TG7645 against the KX-TG7745 as regards static/background/hiss noise present on the handsets? Anyway, perhaps I'm being a bit over-critical of the "hiss" as souund quality seems fairly acceptable overall when you're not listening to the hiss during silent moments. It just stands out to me since I don't recall having such an issue with the old Vtech model, though it may simply be a case of better noise reduction circuitry on the old Vtech as compared to the Panasonics. Will see if I can acclimate to the hiss over time or not...
UPDATE/EDIT 09 JUNE 2012: Updated original review to indicate that the KX-TG7745S does indeed support both a landline call and a cell call simultaneously. For example, a linked cell call can be placed from one handset while a landline call is already in progress on another handset. In such a case, both calls proceed simultaneously. There seems to be a lot of confusion online regarding this capability with some reviewers stating that the KX-TG7745S cannot do this; however, I have successfully performed this very exercise with my KX-TG7745S. Having said that, what does appear to be a limitation is that, according to the manual, only one linked Bluetooth device may be "connected" at a time. Unfortunately, the manual author's use of the word "connected" is confusing and somewhat absurd sounding. "What? I can only have one Bluetooth device "connected" at a time???" If true, this would make it almost pointless for the unit to support linking of two phones as the second phone would not be able to "connect" once the first one did. Or, for that matter, neither cell phone would be able to connect if a Bluetooth headset was connected to the phone system first! Anyway, I believe what the author meant to say is that, while both cell phones can be linked/connected simultaneously, only one linked/connected Bluetooth device may be in active use at a time. This means that if a linked cell call is in progress on one handset and you pick up another handset to try making a call from the other linked cell phone, the handset will indicate that the phone is "busy" and you will not be able to access the second cell phone. Furthermore, if the maual is correct in what it states, the use of a Bluetooth headset during a landline call would seem to exclude the use of either cell phone during that time, thus making it impossible to make/receive a linked cell phone call while the Bluetooth headset is in use. If true, that sorta stinks. Will have to hunt down my Bluetooth headset and test this out at some point to see if it is true. Now for one last note: While your cell phone is linked/connected to the base station, it is pretty much worthless for making/receiving cell calls directly through the cell phone itself as, at least with my phones, the speaker and probably the microphone are apparently disabled while linked. I assume this is for privacy and energy reduction while in use through the handset phone system; however, it means you will need to disconnect/de-link your cell phone before you can reasonably use it directly. Would be nice if the cell phones were smart enough to de-link/disconnect automatically when accessed directly so that you could simply pick up your cell phone and use it as normal at any time. The cell phone could then automatically reconnect after you've completed your call and put the cell phone back down. Or, pherhaps the cell phones could simply provide an easily accessible quick-disconnect button to allow you to decide whether you want to disconnect quickly or simply stay connected while you access other non-call related features of your cell phone. Better yet, just have the cell phone automatically disconnect when I go to dial a number or receive a call directly from the cell phone... and then reconnect when I'm done. Sounds pretty straight-forward to me. Perhaps some cell phones are this intelligent; however, mine don't appear to be. Take a "hint" cell phone manufacturers! Here's something you can improve!!!
Also, in investigating possible explanations for the low level background hiss/noise I've previously reported with my KX-TG7745S and in light of the glowingly good reviews everyone seems to have given the older KX-TG7645M, I've been scrutinizing the differences between them to see if there can be any explanation. This evening, while holding boxes for each of the two models, a possible explanation jumped out at me: The KX-TG7645M box touts the units superior sound quality performance due to employing "Range Boost antenna technology;" however, there is no mention of Range Boost antenna technology on the KX-TG7745S packaging!!! The KX-TG7645M box even goes on to note something to the effect that the Range Boost antenna technology can provide up to something like a 20% improvement in talking quality as compared to Panasonic products employing standard DECT 6.0 Plus technology without the RangeBoost antenna! Can anyone confirm for certain that the improved Range Boost antenna technology has truly been left off of this new KX-TG7745S model? If so, I'm becoming even more convinced that the KX-TG7745S is even more of a manufacturing cost reduction stripped down KX-TG7645M imposter than I previously thought. FYI, here's a recap of the features in which the KX-TG7745S currently appears deficient with respect to the KX-TG7645M:
KX-TG7645M advertises Range Boost antenna technology while the KX-TG7745S is apparently absent such technology (If true, could forecast lower quality sound on the 7745 vs. the 7645)
KX-TG7645M provides power backup capability for operating base station during a power outage while the KX-TG7745S lacks this feature and will cease to operate during a power outage.
KX-TG7645M appears to have a voice memo function while the KX-TG7745S appears to be absent this function.
Only new feature I've identified for the KX-TG7745S (other than the obvious aesthetic changes) is the addition of a side mounted volume control rocker switch... which, for me, actually seems harder to use than the front panel rocker volume switch anyway!
I can't say for sure whether the KX-TG7645M is better than this model or not, but the specs are starting to stack up in its favor and I think I'm going to be looking into it. If my suspicions turn out to be true I'll likely be sending the KX-TG7745S back home to mama... stay tuned for the next update!
UPDATE 16 JUNE 2012: Ok, my new KX-TG7645M is now here for comparison against my previously purchased KX-TG7745S and the sound quality of the 7645 does seem somewhat better than that of the 7745, at least in my particular application anyway. There is still some low level white-noise hiss notable in the 7645 during silent moments; however, the more static-like noise present in the 7745 seems to be gone in the 7645. Surprisingly, I'd have to give the ease of use approval to the 7745 over the 7645; however, the 7645 wins the aesthetics competition hands down! I won't bore you with all the details here, but if you really want to know the nitty gritty details of my observations, see the 7745 vs. 7645 discussion thread available below.
Oh, and I don't believe the 7733 has the Range Boost or reversible handset features either, contrary to the comparison chart as it currently stands on the product page. And, despite the charts insinuations, I would encourage you to compare and contrast different model features to arrive at your own determination as to which model is best for you...
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