A main distinction among types of cordless phones is the way they transmit their signals.
Analog phones are quickly disappearing from the market. The few that are left are older models. These are the least expensive type and tend to have better voice quality than digital models, though their range is somewhat shorter. Using the 5.8 GHz frequency band, they are unlikely to interfere with other wireless products. But analog transmission isn't very secure; anyone with an RF scanner or comparable wireless device might be able to listen in. Analog phones are also more likely than digital phones to suffer occasional static and RF interference from other wireless products since many also use the congested 2.4 GHz frequency band with the 5.8 GHz band. Also, multiple-handset-capable phones can't conference handsets with an outside party, and the number of handsets that can be supported by the base unit is typically limited to two.
DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication) phones address the interference problem by using the 1.9-GHz frequency band reserved by the FCC for voice-only applications. DECT phones also tend to have the longest talk time. Some digital models support up to 12 handsets from one base and allow conferencing of handsets. You often see a "6.0" after DECT. That number is there for no apparent reason other than to convince buyers they're getting something "better" than a 5.8GHz analog phone.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.