The Uniden XDECT 8355 + 3WPR is more than just your usual cordless phone. It’s Uniden’s longest-range phone, and in tests the company managed to get one handset working with full reception 698 metres away from the base. In the box you get three regular handsets, one waterproof and dustproof handset for sheds/pools and a repeater to get it going even further.
I tested the system in the most technologically inhospitable house I could find: my parents’. Their apocalypse-proof, reinforced concrete fortress has found flaws in every wireless system I’ve ever tried, from wi-fi to phones. No cordless phone has ever managed to get reception more than four metres into the next room, and currently three Linksys Velops are only managing to get wi-fi coverage to 90 per cent of the house (the most I’ve ever achieved). However, this phone system has changed all of that; getting reception from my father’s study on one side, to the kitchen on the other, downstairs in the underground part of the house, and even more than a hundred metres away from the house in the shed.
While we couldn’t replicate the 698-metre number due to the constants of metal and concrete, being able to get any reception outside the house at all (not to mention in some of the weirder places inside the house, like the bunker) is extremely impressive. And that was before I plugged in the range extender making it clearer. Given you can easily add multiple extenders (so long as you have somewhere inside to plug them in) and up to 12 handsets, if paired with a house constructed out of non-apocalypse-ready materials, most people would be able to get reasonable coverage over a farm or other large property
The underground reception isn’t as good as the above-ground areas of the house, with calls sounding ever-so-slightly muffled down there, but mildly muffled calls are better than no calls at all. On the upstairs handsets with good reception, calls were clear as a bell and significantly clearer than the old Telstra corded unit and older model Uniden phone I used for comparison.
The ability to pair the base unit with your mobile phone over Bluetooth is extremely helpful. If you have one pocket of your home that gets reasonable mobile reception (say, near a window), while the rest is a dead zone, you can leave your mobile in range and take calls wirelessly on the home phone hanset. That’s especially helpful in a blackout, when the NBN’s powered modem won’t let you make home phone calls. Add a battery pack for your phone, and the 10 days standby time/24 hours talk time on the handsets should keep you connected to both your mobile and the rest of the world until the power comes back.
The handsets can also go pretty loud, enough that my hard-of-hearing test subject could hear perfectly clearly. The handsets also claim compatibility with T-coil hearing aids, though I didn’t have any hearing aid users to test this with.
The main (but minor) downside of the unit is that the answering machine outgoing message recording quality was terrible. It sounded muffled every time we tried, both using the speakerphone on the base and the handset, and there’s no reason for it. The microphones seem fine in all other situations. You can still understand the message, and leave a message easily enough, it just sounds like it was recorded on a car handsfree at the entrance of a tunnel.
The other problem is that the ringtone options were all at least mildly irritating and lack the classic elegance of a traditional analogue ring, but that’s also a minor complaint.
While I wish I could bring you more options to get around a lack of phone ports in the NBN-connected home, the Uniden XDECT 8355 +3WPR for $299 is an excellent choice that should solve the issue for most people.