Review: VTech DS6321-3 cordless phone system

I remember when I got my very first telephone – I was in high school and since my bedroom happened to be equipped with a phone jack (I think the previous owners used it as a sewing room), my mom finally told me that I could get a phone of my own to keep in there. Remember, this was long before cell phones – so having a land line phone in my room was the next best thing. It meant I could talk to my girl (and boy) friends in private, instead of in the middle of the kitchen. That was a huge deal back then. And so was what I ultimately purchased – my family’s very first cordless phone. They were fairly new at the time and it felt so freeing to be able to talk without having to drag that long, curly phone cord with me. I could talk on the phone in my room if I wanted to – or in the living room, the dining room, the family room – or even on our front porch since the range (barely) reached it.

Since then, I think I’ve had a cordless phone of one kind or another pretty much continuously. And thankfully the quality’s improved way beyond what I could’ve dreamed of back in 1986. When my husband and I got married, we splurged on a cordless phone set that had (gasp) TWO handsets. That shared the same line – which was huge, because we could each take a handset in a separate room if we needed to. And after we moved into this house and that set finally died, we found one that came with three handsets and to which you could add even more if you needed to. With a busy household, a house with a basement that’s currently housing our master bedroom, and a husband who is notorious for never keeping anything where it’s supposed to be kept, having three handsets is about the only way we can guarantee that there will be a charged phone that I can find somewhere in the house when a phone call comes in. Lately we’ve debated the merits of keeping our land line at all – we know several people who get by just fine with only their cell phones, but that’s a step we just can’t seem to make. I’m too tied to having a phone number for our household. But either way, we now have a phone system that will work (and grow) with us, no matter what our future needs become – the VTech DS6321.

What it is:

18_200x75 Since 1976, VTech has striven to provide consumers around the world with quality telecommunications products that are both innovative and reliable. Their advanced three-handset DS6321 phone system is an “affordable all-in-one communication solution for busy households”. This phone system comes with a  base unit that includes a digital answering system and three handsets, each with a separate charger that doesn’t require an additional phone jack. The system is also expandable for up to twelve handsets – requiring only the one phone jack for the base unit.

But what sets this phone system apart from others is that it is BLUETOOTH enabled so that you can use it with both cell phones and wireless headsets. Plus you can download your cellular phonebook directly to the phone system. That means that you don’t even need to have a landline phone service to use the DS6321 – you can use it strictly with your cell phone(s) if you wish. You can pair four different cell phones to the base unit and have two phones/headsets actively connected to the base. That means that you can use the DS6321 handsets to make and receive cell calls – without having to touch or even find your cell phone, if it’s within range.  Here’s a list of the features of the VTech DS6321 from their website:

  • DECT 6.0 Digital technology provides the best sound quality, security and range in cordless phones
  • Expandable up to 12 handsets and requires only one phone jack
  • Three handset system—includes 3 handsets and requires only one phone jack
  • Caller ID/call waiting—stores 50 calls
  • Handset speakerphone—enjoy hands-free conversations
  • Interference free for crystal clear conversations
  • Protect yourself from identity theft with digital security
  • BLUETOOTH® enabled for connection to cell phones and headsets
  • Download your cellular phonebook directory to this cordless phone system—dial a landline or cellular call from the directory for easy access
  • Landline service not required—works great for cellular only households
  • Pair four different cell phones to the base unit
  • Stores over 6000 directories from up to four different cell phones—no need to input names and numbers into your cordless phone
  • Two cell phones can be actively connected to the base—cellular calls can be made or received from either of these two active cell phones
  • Answering system has 14 Minutes of recording time, Backlit message counter, and is Digital answering system—no tapes or moving parts
  • 50 name and number phonebook directory—easily store and dial frequently called numbers
  • Conference an outside call between handsets, intercom between handsets, and transfer calls between handsets
  • 100% RoHS compliant
  • Extra large LCD, with blue backlight
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified cordless phone
  • Handset volume control
  • Page/handset locator
  • Selectable ring tones
  • WiFi friendly—won’t interfere with wireless networks

Courtesy of VTech and GolinHarris PR, we received a DS6321 phone system to try out and review.

DS6321-3_lg Here’s my take on it:

VTechCordlessPhone_003Straight out of the box, I liked how easy these phones were to set up. I just plugged everything in, charged up the handsets and we were all set. The phones work very well – we haven’t had any problems with interference, even when I’m talking in the room where our wireless router is located. I’ve taken the phones as far down the driveway as our mailbox with no problems in call quality – in the middle of winter, that’s about as far outside as I’ve been willing to venture. I’m looking forward to seeing how far I can take them this summer when the kids are riding bikes, scooters or skating on the dead-end street next to our house.

The handsets are very comfortable to hold and talk on – they seem to fit into everyone in the family’s hands pretty well. I like that the buttons are clearly marked – and that the ‘talk’ and ‘off’ ones are color coded so at first glance it’s easy to tell which is which. There is a separate ‘talk’ button for whether you’re using your land line service or your cell phone, but those are clearly labeled with both text and graphics. It took me a little while to get used to the location of the ‘off’ button since on our previous phones it was where the ‘cell-talk’ button is on this handset, but after a few tries, I’ve gotten that down very well.

The answering system works wonderfully – and it has one of my favorite features, which is that it digitally displays the number of messages, rather than just using a flashing button. You can listen to, skip, rewind, or delete messages easily – and it has a ‘delete all’ capability, which our previous answering system didn’t. Leaving our outgoing message was simple as well. I also was able to set the retrieval code to be able to grab messages remotely  and that’s worked well the couple of times I’ve tried it so far.

I was most excited, of course, about the Bluetooth capability of this phone system. My iPhone is Bluetooth enabled, and I also have a Bluetooth headset. The instructions clearly showed me how to first pair and then connect each of these devices with the DS6321. And I was able to set the ringtone on the handsets so that it rings differently if a cell call is coming in versus a land line call. The first time that I was sitting at the computer and the phone rang for a cell call right next to me was a bit of a shock, but a fun way to try out the system. At the time, my cell phone was charging only a few feet away from me, so I heard it ring as well, but it’s more often that my cell phone is tucked away in my coat pocket or purse – often I never even hear it ring, so having the handsets ring as well is a huge help. I was able to grab the handset and answer the cell call easily. I’ve also used the handsets to make cell calls – which is really helpful since I don’t have to track down my cell phone to make a long-distance call, especially since we don’t have long-distance service on our land line. For example, my husband’s work phone is actually a long-distance call since his company’s based out of a different area code. And both my and my husband’s parents live out of town as well.

VTechCordlessPhone_004I have downloaded my cell phone’s directory to the DS6321 – it does require an extra step to choose either your ‘home’ or ‘cell’ directories when you want to access stored numbers to make a call, but that’s not a big deal for me. I keep my iPhone’s directory updated at all times, so I can just re-download it to the handsets whenever I’ve made changes – and having all of those numbers easily accessible without having to chase down my cell phone or an address book is a good thing. The handset display is large and very clear. Caller ID does display both numbers and names (when available) along with the date and time that the call came in. And there’s some cool little features that I never would’ve thought to look for but that I would miss now that I’ve got them – like the fact that the redial button stores your last several numbers, not just one.

I don’t talk on the phone much in general – with one big exception. One of my closest friends and I talk, usually weekly when we can both manage it, and we’ve done so for about eight years now. These conversations can last anywhere from an hour or two up to oh, I think we’ve come close to five hours once or twice. Don’t even ask me what we talk about for so long – my husband’s given up trying to figure that one out, lol. Now not only does the battery on the DS6321 handsets last plenty long enough – even when it’s not fully charged to begin with (I’ve only had to change to a different handset once and only because the first one was nearly dead when I started talking on it), but I am thrilled to be able to use my Bluetooth headset for these conversations. Previously I used a wired headset, which worked ok, but not being tethered to the actual phone directly is awesome.

There are only a couple of minor issues that I have with this phone system. One is that there is no headset jack on the handsets, so if the battery in my Bluetooth headset runs out mid-call (which has happened), I’m out of luck and can’t use my wired headset at all. That’s not always very convenient – holding a phone up to your ear for hours at a time isn’t terribly comfortable. I’m just having to make sure that my Bluetooth headset is fully charged pretty much at all times. I also wish that the handsets came with a belt clip, like our previous ones had. If I’m outside in the yard with the kids it’s handy to have a phone with me, and I don’t always have pockets available. Or if I’m on the phone inside with my Bluetooth headset, I still like to have the handset ‘on hand’ so to speak, even if I’m wandering around doing chores or whatever. I know not everyone would need or want a belt clip, but having the option for one would be nice.

The bottom line:

Overall, the VTech DS6321 phone system is incredibly useful, especially for households that use Bluetooth-enabled cell phones on a regular basis, either in conjunction with a land line phone or as the sole phone service. Being able to use the three extra handsets for cell calls is a huge help – plus it allows you to use the phone’s other features on cell calls, like transferring between handsets or having two people talking on handsets on the same call. Whether or not we ever do decide to get rid of our land line, I’m glad that this is a phone system that we will be able to keep using for a long time to come.

Where can you find it?:

VTech cordless phones are available at most major retailers, and can also be purchased in their online store at http://www.vtechphones.com, or at Amazon (affiliate link). The DS6321-3 sells for $99.95.

This post courtesy of: VTech and GolinHarris PR, who provided the product for review. No payment or compensation, other than product samples as described above, was received for this post. All opinions given here are solely my own or those of my family.

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