The Siemens Gigaset S820A is a hybrid-DECT phone with a traditional keypad and 2.4” touchscreen display. At a starting price of £89.99 for the single model, it is a rather expensive home phone. Features include an integrated digital answering machine, Bluetooth, and data syncrhonisation with PC or laptop in addition to all the standard functions of a DECT phone. We put it to the liGo test to find out whether or not it lived up to its premium price tag:
Design and Build
The S820A is a sleek black with silver trim around the edge and metallic style function keys just below the display. In order to make room for the larger than average display, the handset is larger and more cumbersome than most DECT phones. Having said that, this doesn’t detract from its stylish design, and it has a nice weight to it, which makes it comfortable to handle. There are dedicated volume controls on the right, and a concealed micro-USB port on the bottom left.
As with most premium Gigaset phones, the S820A looks and feels well made; however, it is made from plastic and when you consider that the SL400A (only marginally more expensive) boasts a genuine metal-frame I was left a little underwhelmed.
Sound quality is definitely one of Gigaset’s strong suit, and the S820A delivers excellent clarity on calls. The handset can be stood up straight and it has a powerful hands-free loudspeaker, which delivers equally clear audio. The volume settings are good, with maximum volume one of the loudest we’ve come across. Playback of messages recorded on the answering machine was also good; however, you can only listen via the handset (as the base has no speaker).
Ease of use & set-up
Setting up the S820A should pose no problems at all; the base plugs into the phone line and mains and on-screen prompts takes you through the initial set-up. It’s afterwards that the problems begin – whilst it’s marketed as offering a keypad and touchscreen it should be noted that the keypad is not fully functional ie. you need to use the touchscreen to access the menu/features and the keypad for dialling and entering numbers into the phonebook. In short, you need to use both.
More often than not the touchscreen has a noticeable lag
This wouldn’t be such a problem if the touchscreen was any good. Sadly, the performance is variable. It works well some of the time, but more often than not the touchscreen has a noticeable lag and is very slow to respond (and that’s if you get a response), which can make the handset extremely frustrating to use.
Range & Battery Life
The DECT range was adequate; perhaps the power being drained by the ineffectual touchscreen has something to do with it. Not bad by any means, and the range can be extended with a compatible repeater.
To power the lumbering handset, the handset takes 2x AA NiMh batteries, which deliver a pretty impressive battery life. On a single charge it lasted almost 2 days of heavy use (16 hours+) and the test handset left on standby still has a decent amount of charge left after over a week.
There is a phonebook, which can store up to 500 entries with space for 3 numbers per contact; and as with other Gigaset models from the “S” and “SL” ranges (eg. S795, SL910A) it is compatible with Gigaset QuickSync. This means that you can connect the S820A to your computer via USB (or pair with Bluetooth) and import contact details, music files (for personalised ringtones), and images (for Picture Caller ID or screensaver).
The integrated answering machine on the base has a capacity for up to 55 minutes of messages (when record quality is at lowest setting). You can record your own greeting, set the ring delay, set to answer only or even deactivate the answering machine completely. As mentioned previously, messages need to be listened to with the handset; there is also an option to access remotely from an external line. Further notable features include: an ECO mode to reduce power consumption and radiation, speed dial, a calendar, and a baby monitor setting.
The Siemens Gigaset S820A is a decent home phone, which is well made, offers great sound quality and is packed with features. Unfortunately, it is let down by a lousy resistive touchscreen that doesn’t work consistently. By offering a conventional keypad along with touchscreen, the S820A fails at both. There are better standard DECT phones, and there are better touchscreen cordless phones. My advice would be to decide, which type of phone you’d prefer and get one that does that well rather than one that tries to do both in a mediocre way.