Written on: 15/09/2008 by Terence Wass (13 reviews written)
Clear call quality
Decent display and menu
Decent hands free
Working caller ID
Cheesiest ring-tones ever made.
Daft "speed" dial
I needed a new phone for my home office and had the following criteria to meet: I need caller id. I need clear sound. I need one with an answer machine. I need hands free.
I need Caller ID so that if a client rings me I can answer with: 'Hi Jeff', instead of: 'Good afternoon, Web Forge, how can I help. Oh, hi Jeff'.
I can screen the numbers that I don't recognise hence give all those telesales calls that happen at dinner time the buck instead of wasting my time actually speaking to them.
Requiring Caller ID also means that the screen needs to be readable.
I need clear call quality:
Maybe I ' m getting old or maybe phones are getting worse, I don ' t know.
What I do know is that I have several phones in the house that make the caller sound like they have a mouthful of cotton wool.
This pretty much rules out cordless phones; every one I have tried has sounded terrible, been subject to noise from other appliances (even with that so-called ' DECT Digital Clarity ' ) and have been lost on many an occasion. I had one once that even flattened the fully charged battery after thirty minutes talk time!
I need one with an answer machine:
Reliance on the BT answer service is okay, but a proper machine is better for my companies image, easier to use, more 'I just want one, okay?
I need hands free:
I get calls asking me to fix things online. During most calls I need to type while I talk and I ' m not prepared to give my self an aneurysm gripping a handset between my head and shoulder.
' Why not plug in a nice headset Terry? '
Good in theory but I ' d end up strangling myself with the cord; this is a man who forgot he had panniers attached to his motorbike on more than one occasion with hilarious (from the bystanders point of view) results.
Right, I know what I need ' .. ' Hi ho, hi ho, to Amazon we go'
They have just the ticket, The BT Paragon 550, so I splash out the 30 quid and wait.
It arrives nicely packaged and has a good heavy feel to it " I KNOW that this is irrelevant, it ' s probably just full of sand or something, but heavy feels good to me.
The instruction ' book ' is a one sheet affair and is put to one side anyway " I ' m a bloke; I don ' t need an instruction book. The proper instructions are on the BT site in PDF format. You can print your own or just read it off the screen.
2 minutes later and it ' s plugged in and ready.
The screen looks good; backlit inverse dot matrix LCD, Bright blue text/icons on a dark background, nice and readable. The display gets a thumbs-up.
Another two minutes and I ' ve set up the answer-phone and recorded my OGM.
It ' s at this point that I become impressed with the menu system.
If you can ' t use this phone out of the box and set it all up without the instructions, there ' s something wrong with you, get one of your kids to help.
I even set the date and time " you type them in using the keypad!
Using the phone.
My old phone had the same ring-tone as my next-door-neighbours phone; annoying if you ' re admiring the discarded car parts from the couch on your back yard instead of working.
The Paragon gets around this problem by having the cheesiest ring-tones in the world, possibly the universe.
Remember Del Boys door chime? On the paragon we have something similar:
Electronic versions of the national anthems from Cheeseland, Cheesopia, The United States of Cheese etc. I picked the most annoying ' Poly 9 ' and can ' t stop humming it
It ' s so bad it ' s almost good 'almost!
The best bit? I haven ' t found a way for it to announce calls in a normal manner.
If you are sat at the desk, the incoming call light comes on a few seconds before the ring-tone giving you the chance to answer the phone before the thing starts making its hideous noises. I ' m not sure if this is a pro or a con. Do you want to hear the phone straight away with these tunes?
The Caller ID bit does its job and says the name of the caller if their in your phone book instead of the number. Excellent.
At the default setting the volume is okay in the earpiece and on speakerphone.
Full volume is great though and apparently the phone is hearing aid compatible just in case loudest isn't loud enough.
The speakerphone works just fine. I can have a natural conversation even though there is a PC on my desktop. It doesn ' t seem to confuse the phone at all, the hands free bit just works.
As the handset is on a cord, the clarity is about as good as it gets, no crackles or noise, no buzzing or quiet spots, no cut-offs due to flat batteries, just whatever quality your phone line can give you.
To top it off, if the caller isn ' t in your phone book, you can add it very easily using the menu.
Pick up, dial. If you mess this up, hang up and try again.
Dial, if you mess up, press ' clear ' to correct, pick up.
Press "Phonebook", scroll to name, pick up.
Press "Phonebook", hit the first letter of the name, select name, pick up.
Tell your butler to do one of the above.
I managed to set the three speed dial numbers using the menu, but making a call with them? That ' s another story.
There ' s no speed dial button that I can find (maybe it ' s behind a screwed down panel) and there ' s no option to dial a speed number from the menu.
No mention of it is in the little instruction sheet so I had to resort to using the online instruction book from the BT site.
To make a speed dial call you have to press and hold (for ages) the phone book button until the speed dial list is displayed, scroll to select the right one using the cursor keys and select ' OK ' to actually make the call.
How slow? It ' s as quick to use the phone book.
Looking at the phone.
From the top:
A bright red light tells you a call is coming in or that you ' ve missed one.
A bright green light tells you you ' ve got a new message (text or answer phone)
The screen is good, though for my money the backlight could stay on all the time " the phone is plugged into a power adaptor anyway. You can make calls during a power cut, the backlight and answerphone go down with the power though.
There ' s a set of keys for using the menu and making calls under the screen with a cursor key joypad in the middle.
There are seven buttons in a row for using the answer machine " more than plenty.
The number pad is nice and big.
All the keys have a good feel to them and you can dial with confidence. Some other phone ' s I ' ve had were decidedly dodgy key-wise - including some phones from BT - where you would have to press certain keys more firmly than others to get them to work or they would bounce dialling the number twice.
Not a problem on the Paragon yet, time will tell.
The handset sits on the left with all the keys and stuff on the right.
If you ' re left handed then this might be a problem although I didn ' t check if a sinister version of the Paragon was available.
Some people complain about the fact that the manuals for things are only available online. I like this approach, particularly if it means the product ends up being cheaper.
Okay, if you live under a rock with no internet then how are you reading this review?
Online PDFs are a good thing in my humble opinion.
The display does have a couple of minor niggles associated with it though, firstly the angle of the phone is too shallow and so I can quite see the bottom row on the display fully unless I lean forward in my chair (GASP!). Fortunately it usually only says ' Back ' or ' Menu ' above the buttons to press anyway so I really don ' t mind.
Secondly the backlight goes off after a while making the screen very difficult to read if it ' s in a dark corner, but that ' s not really a problem as you can press a cursor key to get it back on if you really are a slow reader. The contrast is great though, you can read it from just about any angle.
After reading the online manual I found out a few things.
I didn ' t need to set the date and time; the first incoming call does this bit for you.
You can scroll through your appointments by pressing the left cursor " though why you would put appointments on here is beyond me.
There is a calendar and an alarm clock. I can see the alarm being quite useful " it can be set to come on on weekdays or every day, ' Wake up to Cheese FM! '.
I'm sure I would find some other little features if I read the online manual cover to cover but I'm not going to. I figured out all I needed to just by playing with it for 10 minutes.
I like this phone because:
The caller ID works well, CHECK.
The display is good, CHECK.
Call clarity is good, CHECK.
The answer phone is good, CHECK.
The hands free works well, CHECK.
It cost me 30 quid.
I have a feeling that this phone was designed by someone who uses a phone a lot and realises what they actually need from one, from the menu, to the call clarity.
Then someone came in on Friday afternoon and added the speed dial and ring tones.
I really like it.
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