The Gigaset A400 is an entry-level digital cordless phone, which has been designed to offer top quality at a budget price. There might not be an answering machine, or a colour screen, or call blocking features, but the handset has a clear backlit display, reliable sound quality (both via the earpiece and the loudspeaker), and feels incredibly well made compared to other handsets around the same price.

We put it to the liGo test:

Design & build

For what is ostensibly a budget phone the Gigaset A400 looks and feels great; managing to avoid the trap fall other cheaper DECT phones fall into – of looking like a A400_large1xcheap DECT phone. The handset itself feels quite compact, and the screen is comparatively small to most other models. All the controls are located on front of the handset; the keypad is well laid out with reasonably sized separated buttons. The handset can be stood up straight, but is not quite as steady as other models so more prone to falling flat. As with all Gigaset phones, the A400 bears the ‘Made in Germany’ trademark and comes with a 2-year warranty as standard.

Ease of use & set-up

It would be surprising to come across a basic phone that wasn’t easy to set-up and use, and thankfully Gigaset has not broken the mould with the A400. Set-up is a simple case of plug-and-play with a prompt to set time and date upon switching on the handset for the first time and away you go. The screen is fairly small but is the backlight makes it clear to read; there is an option to increase the dialling font size (handy if your eyesight is poor and you’ve forgotten your glasses) but isn’t large enough for all digits in a phone number to appear. As mentioned already, the keypad is well laid out and shouldn’t cause a serious problem for users with larger fingers and/or impaired dexterity; the backlight is not so strong but enough that you would still be able to use in poor light.

Features

As an entry-level DECT phone the A400 is not endowed with a vast array of features. As mentioned at the start of the review; there is no answering machine, and no call blocking features. You can store up to 80 contacts in the handsets phonebook memory; and if using more than one handset can transfer contacts between them.

You can increase the size of the dialling font, which might prove useful if you’ve got poor eyesight or left your specs in another room. However, if the larger size is on then the full number won’t all fit onto the screen.

The integrated answering machine on the base only has a 25 minutes recording capacity; and I say ‘only’ in relative terms as if all you’re after is a basic phone then this should be more than sufficient.

Sound quality

For a budget phone the sound quality of the A400 is fantastic, and on a par with more expensive models such as the S795. The clarity both through the ear-piece and the loudspeaker was very good and we experienced no distortions on either end during our tests. However, as with other Gigaset phones we’ve reviewed the maximum volume settings (for the ringtone, loudspeaker, and earpiece) problem for us; we did notice that the volume (even on the maximum setting) was not very loud and neither was the ringer, so would advise against the A420 if you have problems with hearing.

Range & battery life

In our tests the range of the A400 was good; not quite comparable with the S795 or the BT 8500 but excellent for being half the price. The handset didn’t quite make the full length of our office building with the sound beginning to break up at around the 40m mark. Outside, it was about 200 metres down the street before it went A400_large2kaput. The base is repeater compatible, so it is possible to extend the range if necessary.

Each handset comes with 2x AAA 750 mAh NimH rechargeable batteries, which offers substantial amount of use on a single charge.

Verdict

The Gigaset A400 is an excellent basic cordless phone; easy to use, great sound, and well made. It can be used for nothing more than to make and receive landline calls (and will do so well), but offers a good range of features that make this phone excellent value for money. If you’re looking for a reliable home phone that delivers on all fronts at a great price then this is it.

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