Handset Functionality and Conclusion
We should've mentioned this earlier, but on the right hand side of the handset is a 2.5mm headset jack which will work with any standard hands-free kit that uses a 2.5mm connector. This might be handy if you don't want to hold the handset to your face during long conversations, and it seems to be a pretty standard feature on cordless phones these days.
Using the [email protected] 6000 is not that different from the Netgear SPH200D, although Topcom has added a menu option which the SPH200D didn't have, namely Intercom. This is for use with calls between two [email protected] 6000 handsets, although we couldn't test this feature as we only had one review unit. At the moment Topcom doesn't offer separate handsets, so it's not possible to upgrade the system without purchasing a new base station, which seems a bit daft, but we're sure this will change in the future.
Interestingly, Topcom had released a new firmware update for the [email protected] 6000 shortly after we were shipped our review unit; although we're not sure what the new version added or improved over the one that came pre-installed. None the less, it shows that the company is dedicated to its products. Firmware installation was a breeze, you go into the settings menu, select advanced and then firmware update; the phone then connects to Topcom's servers, downloads the latest firmware version and updates the base station and the handset for you automatically.
Normally this can be a hassle and this is the reason why a lot of people don't bother with these kinds of things, so a big thumbs up to Topcom for making this process so easy. The initial setup is equally as easy, it will search for the base station, ask you if it's the one you want to connect to, make you enter some country specific details such as country and area code, and finally it will tell you to enter your Skype account details.
It's a bit fiddly to enter a lot of details on the keypad, but this is the kind of trade-off you have to do with this kind of device, just as on most mobile phones. The screen is fairly easy to read and although it's far from the best LCD display we've seen, it's not as bad as some cheaper colour display cordless phones around. Topcom lists the [email protected] 6000 as having 10 polyphonic ring tones, although our review sample had 11. We can't say we were impressed by any of them and a simple telephone style ring signal is really missing here.
The [email protected] 6000 doesn't have any vibrating alert which is a bit of a shame, especially as Netgear managed to squeeze that in, but it's not a deal breaker. Battery life seemed quite good, the two 800mAh rated AAA batteries lasted about three days on standby during a few calls and some general fidgeting with the handset was performed during this time as well. Topcom doesn't specify any standby or talk time figures, but we don't have any complaints here.
We were also impressed by the massive printed manual that Topcom provided with the [email protected] 6000; although it covers 12 languages, every language has about 35 pages of well written information with detailed pictures of how each function works. This is how a manual should be written and is something other companies should look up to and try to follow when it comes to consumer convergence devices of this type.
To sum things up, the Topcom [email protected] 6000 is an excellent cordless phone with the added benefit of Skype functionality. It's easy to use and has a fairly attractive design. The only fly in the ointment would be the availability as it seems to be limited to Europe at the moment. It's priced at around 150 or about $220 USD which might seem a bit expensive, although it seems like it should be available in Canada as well for around $279 CND which is much more than it goes for in Europe.
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