The 10 Best Cordless Phones
10. VTech CS6529
9. AT&T 3-Handset Answering System
8. VTech DS6151
7. AT&T CRL82312
6. Uniden D1760-2 DECT 6.0
5. AT&T EL52313
4. Panasonic KX-TGD532W
3. VTech CS6719-2
1. AT&T CL83484 DECT 6.0
How Does a Cordless Telephone Work?
The easiest way to explain how a cordless phone operates is by pointing out that the curly wire (attached to a traditional phone) is essentially being replaced via radio waves. Unlike the wire, these waves can travel over and through any objects in their path. As a result, you get a more versatile piece of hardware that comes with some pretty cool little extras, as well.
Beyond the use of radio waves, a cordless telephone transmits an analog or digital signal in much the same way an old-school telephone does. The cordless phone's docking station (i.e., its "transceiver") is connected to a telephone wire, which is, in turn, connected to a phone jack in the wall. This jack attaches to a much longer wire which runs outside to either a nearby telephone pole or an underground telecommunication system, where all of the individual wires have been bundled into a network.
If there is one critical difference between a cordless phone and a rotary phone it is that the cordless phone requires constant electricity - and a rechargeable battery - in order to function. This may seem like a limitation (and an extra expense), but it's a minor drawback, especially given today's docking stations can accommodate multiple lines and multiple headsets, while also allowing for some degree of smartphone compatibility (depending on the cordless phone that you're using).
What Do I Need to Know Before I Buy a Cordless Phone?
Most landline phones these days are cordless, so the primary decision comes down to whether you need a phone for the home or the office. In-house cordless phones are pretty straightforward. They come with one or two handsets, a built-in answering machine (or voicemail service), and a digital display including Caller ID. Some models have better sound than others, but your major focus should be on finding a cordless that matches the decor and doesn't take up too much space. You may also want a cordless that comes with some sort of call blocker, given telemarketers tend to focus on calling people at their homes.
If, on the other hand, you're buying a phone for the office, you have a lot of aspects to consider. Assuming the phone will serve any type of administrative function, you'll probably want a model that can forward calls and page people. Assuming you plan on putting the phone in a conference room, you'll want to make sure it has a reliable speaker. In addition, check out how many handsets/headsets the central docking station can accommodate. During conference calls, it's helpful to have two or more people on the line.
If the phone is for one employee, the most important feature might be smartphone compatibility. The majority of executives are mobile these days, and a lot of them spend more time out of the office than they do in. That being the case, it's almost essential to have an office phone that can forward calls to an executive's cell phone, while also allowing him or her to access business voicemail on the go.
A Brief History of the Cordless Telephone in America
Like a lot of innovations, there is some debate regarding who is actually responsible for putting the cordless telephone on the map.
One story has it that a jazz musician named Teri Pall invented the basic technology for a cordless phone in 1968, but had no idea how to modify it, and so he sold that technology to a manufacturer for next to nothing. What that manufacturer may not have known was that a U.S. Army radio operator named George Sweigert was already a few steps ahead of him.
Sweigert had discovered a connection between in-the-field military communications and the practical application of similar technology to allow for wireless communication in the home. Radio waves were the key to what Sweigert termed a "full duplex wireless communications apparatus" on his original patent application back in 1966.
Sweigert's application wasn't approved until 1969, as technology with that capability needed to be thoroughly vetted. The idea of allowing for open access to radio-wave communications raised questions regarding the potential for breach of privacy, and even national security.
Not a lot happened with Sweigert's invention until the late seventies, when Douglas Talley and Duane Gregory introduced a "duplex communication link involving a base station connected directly to a telephone exchange" (aka the cordless phone as we know it). While the cordless has experienced certain technological advances over the years, the basic premise surrounding it has remained very much the same.