In searching for a telephone system for a small home office there are several considerations. Our list would be:

1. MultiLine Capability
2. Portability
3. Simplicity
4. Intercom
5. Messaging System
6. Reliablility
7. Expandability

Enter the Siemens Gigaset 2-Line Multi-User Cordless Phone System. Here’s a quick rundown of the system features:

* 2.4GHz Frequency Hopping Digital Spread Spectrum Operation
* 2 Lines
* Expandable up to 8 Cordless Handsets
* 100 Frequency Hops Per Second Virtually Eliminates Eavesdropping
* Digital Answering System with 26 Minutes Record Time, Remote Access & 2-Line Capability
* Digital Duplex Speakerphone
* Fax/Modem Port
* Caller ID/Call Waiting*
* Caller ID with 50 Entry Name & Number Call Log*
* Backlit Multi-Function 4-Line LCD
* Directory Stores up to 120 Names & Numbers
* Headset Jack & Belt Clip
* Intercom & Room Monitor
* Conferencing & Call Transfer
* Call Timer
* Up to 8 hours of Talk Time
* Up to 80 Hours of Standby Time
* Two Standard AA Rechargeable Ni-Cd Batteries

The base system comes with a desktop unit and one portable handset. The base station unit plugs into a wall outlet and into the 2 incoming phone lines. The beauty of the system is that the portable handsets never need to plug into a telephone outlet. All they need is to be left in their charger to charge the batteries. I had this system setup with 2 handsets in a matter of minutes using the quickstart guide. Four steps:

1. Plug in the base station.
2. Put the batteries in the handsets and charge them up.
3. Enter a PIN number to identify your system
4. Register the handsets (electronically introduce them to the base station).

That’s about it. Start making calls. This is not difficult either … in fact it’s obvious. Push the “Talk” button and dial the number … duh! When you’re finished … push the “End” button or just place the handset back in the charger … duh again!

Now you can set up all of the other features to take full advantage of this system. This is not a difficult procedure either. Siemens has spent a few years in this business and knows how to make a system that is intuitive and functional. Each handset has a “Menu” button and LCD display that walks you through the process of setting up various features. If you need help there is a good instruction manual as well.

The complexity of the system is not overwhelming. The functions are practical and easy to use. No … you can’t browse the web or do the dishes … but you can get down to business quickly and easily. Isn’t that what you need a phone system for?

The directory is easy to use and handy as can be. If you have a small business you only need set up one directory and then you can “send” it to the other handsets where it will be stored for use. You can also send individual directory entries. To use the directory just push the directory button, scroll to the name of the person to phone and push the OK button. The system also keeps track of the last 5 numbers for redial and has a call log so you can review the calls that you missed etc.

The answering system is easy to use as well. Each of the 2 lines can have different outgoing messages and you can recall the messages from any handset or remotely. The system will also record your current call if you want it to.

Of course you can manage calls, transfer them to another handset, put on hold and have conference calls as well. The intercom is simple and effective as well. A distinctive ring lets you know that an intercom call is coming in.

Using a fax or modem with the system is also possible. Use distinctive ring from the phone company and those calls will be diverted to the fax machine (which is plugged into the base unit).

All in all this system certainly does the trick for most home based businesses or just busy families. One thing to understand with this system is that it operates in the 2.4 GHz band which may arise in problems with interference from microwaves or other wireless products including 802.11 data networking equipment. We have both and while there has been the odd flutter detected during a conversation it does not appear to be a major problem. The benefits seem to outweigh the potential problems thus far. It is my understanding that that HomeRF networks will not have these interference problems however I have not been able to test this yet. The basic system retails for $299 and extra handsets are $99. This seems to be a bargain if you need a 2 line cordless phone system.