We purchased the S795 to replace our aging Siemens-manufactured BT 4016 because we wanted an answering machine with dedicated keys. The 4016 was once a Which? market leader for sound quality.
The keyboard has a near ideal feel. I prefer separate keys to the 'metal membrane' that Siemens adopted for the SL785. The keys are reasonably sized and well separated. They operate with a satisfyingly precise click. There is none of the rubbery or wobbly feel that afflicts many cordless phone keyboards. All keys have a convincing metallic finish and are attractively backlit. The cursor/control area at the top of the keyboard is well designed. This cluster of keys looks stylish but ergonomics have not been sacrificed to achieve this. The keys are generously sized and the square cursor/control pad is raised slightly above the other keys in the cluster. Because of this, there is little danger of pressing adjacent keys unintentionally when using it. The pad has the same precise feel as the rest of the keyboard - a step forward for Siemens, because similarly shaped devices on some of their other phones can feel rather wobbly.
Earpiece Sound Quality
We were initially unimpressed by the sound of this phone, but our first few incoming calls just happened to be woolly or distorted. Given a good incoming signal, sound quality is excellent. Clarity is similar to our previous phone, but with significantly less hiss/noise. Signal strength is high throughout our 4 bedroom 1980s house. Reception is stable, even when walking from room to room (we have not tried Eco Mode, which could affect this). The handset's side-mounted volume control is invaluable. As this steps between its discrete volume levels there is sometimes a very slight audible glitch - of no consequence to us.
Speaker Sound Quality
Speakerphone sound is clear and well balanced. Hands free calls are a pleasure - communication is pretty much as seamless as via the earpiece. The Gigaset S795 lacks Bluetooth, so a cordless headset cannot be used as an alternative to the speakerphone.
Answering Machine Sound Quality
I have yet to hear a domestic digital answering machine which sounds as good as the tape-based systems of yesterday. This Gigaset is good, but only by digital standards. There are 2 quality options for message recording: 'Long Play' (44 minutes capacity) and 'Excellent' (6 minutes capacity). The Excellent setting offers a worthwhile improvement over Long Play. Intelligibility on this setting is very good, though minor digital artefacts can still be heard. If you record your own outgoing message, the quality for this seems similar to 'Excellent'. This is okay, but why can't we have MP3 quality for the outgoing message?
21 ringtones are provided - 7 more-or-less traditional and 14 more-or-less musical. Additional tones an be added via a Windows based PC (USB connection, no Mac support).
Different tones can be allocated for internal and external calls. These can be programmed independently for the base station and for each handset. Specified callers can have their own ringtones and you can add associated images via a PC.
The ringtones sound great, but maximum volume is not that high. Unless you choose one of the more strident tones, the volume from the base station + 1 handset may not be enough to reach every room in a noisy house.
Each handset can be programmed to be silent for a specified period every day. Individual handset ringers can be toggled on or off manually (by holding down the star key). The base station ringer options are more limited. Via the menu system you can chose its internal and external ringtone, its volume, and that's about it so far as I can see.
Some multi-handset systems can be a chore to silence. If you don't want to be disturbed, this system is more convenient to mute than some.
If you need silence for the same period every day, you can programme the individual handset ringers appropriately. If you dispense with the base station ringer altogether (by setting its volume to zero via the menu system) you will have the desired daily silence without further intervention.
If your routine changes from day to day, you can turn off the base station ringer permanently, turn off permanently any handset-ringers that you don't need, and turn the remainder on or off as required (with a single press of their handset star keys).
The easiest way to silence the answering machine is to turn it off (a single key press). If you need it but want silence, you will have to turn off call monitoring via the menu system. This is because the volume control keys on the base station are not capable of reducing its loudspeaker volume to zero. When the answering machine finishes answering a call it emits a brief tone - I have yet to find a way to switch this off.
A single key on the base station to silence the entire system would have been a nice touch.
The phone takes 2 standard AAA Ni-Mh rechargeable batteries. Siemens claim 12 hours talktime and 165 hours standby (with screensaver disabled) for 700 mAh cells; 14 hours talktime and 185 hours standby for 800mAh cells; 17 hours talktime and 230 hours standby for 1000 mAh cells. The instruction book advises against using AAAs with a capacity of greater than 1000mAh.
Our phone came with Suppo 650 mAh cells. I replaced these with Panasonic Infinium 800 mAh cells because Panasonic claim a service life of 1200 charge/discharge cycles for this range. They suggest a figure of 500 cycles for conventional types. Our Panasonics will power the handsets for 65-70 hours in standby (no calls, screensaver enabled). Reassuringly, this is exactly in line with Siemens' claim for 800 mAh cells.
Like most modern phones this Gigaset has many additional features - too many to list. Our favourite is being able to transfer calls between handsets easily, having conference calls when required.
Design and Finish
We love the design of this phone. It has a quality look and feel. The plastic case feels pleasantly light in the hand for long calls. The highly polished black finish on both handset and base station looks superb, but is vulnerable to finger prints and abrasions. Regular gentle cleaning is necessary to prevent the excellent colour LCD display from looking foggy due to the build up of finger grease, make-up residues etc.
Almost nothing. The handset's USB port is under the rear battery cover. This cover snaps into place and is not easy to remove. Siemens provide a coin slot for the purpose, but no UK coin will fit. A screwdriver blade works but is hardly kind to plastic. I use a wooden lolly stick (thinned to fit with sandpaper).
On balance, a great purchase for us - and excellent service from liGo.