The BT 8500 is a stylish new home cordless phone equipped with Advanced Call Blocking functions (powered by trueCall) to combat nuisance calls. Improving on the vastly popular 6500, which was BT's first DECT phone to offer built-in call blocking (and their fastest selling phone to date) - the BT8500 allows you to block even more individual numbers (up to 1,000) and includes a new Call Guardian feature, colour display, improved sound quality, and longer recording time on the answering machine.
We put it to the liGo test:
Design & Build
The sleek black design looks fairly modern and feels well made; it is comfortable to hold when dialling, scrolling through the menus, and feels less plasticky than its predecessor. At 17cm tall the handset is slightly longer than average, which has been used to incorporate larger sized buttons without deterring from the overall aesthetic. The added length also makes it easier to prop the phone up against your ear using a shoulder. However, there really is no need thanks to one of better loudspeakers we've come across (but more about that later). I've never been blown away by the build quality of BT phones, which tend to pail in comparison to German manufacturer Gigaset, but BT have clearly upped their game with the 8500 and it has paid off.
Ease of use & set-up
Setting up the BT 8500 is very straightforward; after plugging in the base and switching on the handset for the first time a series of on-screen prompts guide you through the process (and conveniently there is an option to skip past this should you wish to set it yourself later). Included in the box is only a Quick Start Guide (a full user manual can be downloaded online here or from BT’s website), which takes you through set-up and provides information on how to use some of the features. The large colour display is very clear making it easy to navigate through the menu, which follows the same layout as previous models from BT.
Nuisance Call Blocking
One of the main benefits of the BT 8500 is the Advanced Call Blocking functionality it offers. It is important to note that in order for these features to work you do need a subscription to Caller Display (for which BT charges a monthly fee). As with previous call blocking phones from BT; the 8500 offers you protection from anonymous and international callers, which are responsible for the majority of nuisance sales calls. There is also the option to block up to 1,000 specific numbers, and a Do Not Disturb mode which can be used to silence the ringer for all types of calls. These are tried and tested features for BT and work well.
What is new is “Call Guardian” which BT claims will block up to 100% of nuisance calls. It is essentially an advanced form of call screening; if an unknown number calls your landline then Call Guardian will answer, ask the caller to announce their name, and you’ll be able to hear the recording before decide whether to answer, block, or divert to the answering machine. *please note that CallerID must be enabled on your line for this feature to work
The sound quality on the BT8500 is an improvement on the 6500, the overall greatness of which was marred by mediocre audio. We tested the handset on internal and external calls (mobile and landline), and the sound reproduction was excellent. Voices sounded natural without any deterioration, or interference. We were also impressed by the handsfree loudspeaker, which worked well at full volume in a room of about 14 x 16 ft with three of us able to hear and talk comfortably to our test caller (taking drink orders from our local coffee shop) aided by the fact that the handset can be stood vertically.
Battery life & range
We recently conducted a test to find the best 5 cordless phones with long battery life, and the BT 8500 was number 2 on the list. The handset comes with 2x AAA NiMH 750mAh rechargeable batteries; in tests conducted at our offices they were capable of holding a charge for well over a week on standby, and delivering an impressive talktime of over 20 hours! So battery life is something you certainly don’t need to worry about.
The handsets also fared well when it came to range, managing the full length of our office building (roughly 45 metres) and a good 200 or so metres down Bath Street before starting to break up. However, one drawback to the 8500 is that it is not repeater compatible so there is no potential to extend the range if you live in a larger than average sized property.
The BT 8500 is packed with all the features you would expect on a modern DECT cordless phone; there is a phonebook, which has memory for up to 200 entries (3 numbers can be stored per entry) and contacts are automatically synchronised between handsets if you have a two handsets or more. The integrated answering machine offers a substantial recording time of up to 60 minutes of messages. The playback quality is good (though you don’t have the facility to adjust the record quality, which is a useful feature of Gigaset’s phones).
The 8500 is BT's tour de force - a well designed, user-friendly home phone that offers unparalleled call blocking, exceptional sound quality, impressive battery life, and a wealth of practical features. Whether you're in the market for a top quality mid-range cordless phone or the best way to protect your home against nuisance calls the BT 8500 delivers. An excellent phone, and the best we've seeen from BT in recent years. You can read what our customer's think along with the full spec, here.