Eircom 6020, digital cordless phone

3 Feb 2005

Product: Digital cordless phone
Price: €129.95
How home phones have changed. First came the touch-button phone, which was a big enough innovation in itself, but then the cordless or DECT phone arrived. Where previously two or three handsets were needed around the house now you simply took your phone with you as you sauntered from room to room.

Eircom’s new digital cordless phone, the 6020, is the latest refinement of DECT technology. It is made by Sagem, a French firm that also has a range of mobile handsets on the market so, unsurprisingly, this phone has the look and feel of a mobile.

True, the 6020 is quite a lot bigger than most mobiles but this is no bad thing. After all, chatting on the phone is more comfortable using a decent-sized handset. Miniaturisation is to be welcomed but with some of the mobiles out there now you might as well be talking into a Zippo lighter.

In some ways, the 6020 could be seen as a response by fixed-line operators to the threat presented by the ever-expanding mobile market. The popularity of mobiles is such than many of us are starting to use them inside as well as outside the home, despite the big difference in call costs. Why? Laziness is one reason — we usually have mobiles on or near us. Moreover, we can send text messages from our mobiles. And crucially, all our contacts are keyed into our handsets.

The 6020 confronts all of these issues. For a start, the phone allows you to transfer your contacts — up to a limit of 200 names — from your mobile SIM card. Simply pop your SIM into the dedicated slot on the phone base and following the steps to copy your numbers over. It takes just a couple of minutes. Secondly, the 6020 supports text messaging — including predictive text for all you speedsters out there. There is also a large colour display that makes it easier to read numbers and write texts. The display also enhances the gaming experience — although the choice here is limited to just two games.

Another feature shared with mobiles are polyphonic ringtones. There is a wide range of tones to choose from or you can record your own. I tried to give the latter a go in fact. I found that while I could list back to the recording I was unable to make that recording the new ringtone. Either a software glitch or the instructions had defeated me.

That said, in overall handling terms this phone scores really well. The navigation buttons are arranged in a flower shape above the number keypad, making it easy to go between around the various menu options. The handset also allows a high degree of personalisation, not only of features such as ringtones and screen background but also on the security side, where for example certain prefixes such as premium rate numbers can be barred.

There were a few niggles. When a voicemail is received, a message comes up on the display saying ‘New Events’. When a text comes in, on the other hand, a green light on the edge of the handset comes on. It would perhaps be better if the light was used for voicemail messages (to catch your eye when you walked into the room) and that a beep-beep alert would sound when a text is received. After all, that’s what we are used to with our mobiles. Another minor irritation is that when looking for numbers in your phone book you can only search using one letter at a time. Therefore if you were looking for James, you can key in the ‘J’ but not the two or three additional letters that would quickly narrow down the search.

On a more positive note, a big selling point of the 6020 is that it has all the advanced call features that come with fixed-line phones. Receiving a call while on the line and talk to that caller if you wish, putting the second on hold. Making a second call while on the line. Setting up a conference call between yourself and two other callers. All are possible with the 6020.

As with any DECT phone, the 6020 has an internal radio range of about 50 metres and up to 300 metres in the open space. So unless you live on a farm, this should be enough to ensure you are contactable anywhere around the house or its immediate environs.

A well-designed and feature-rich handset, the 6020 is a good performer and takes cordless phone technology to a new level. Who knows, it may even be enough to get mobile users off their mobiles.

The 6020 retails for €129.95 when ordered direct from Eircom; €139.95 when purchased from 3G and other third-party retailers.

By Brian Skelly