The AT&T CL84202 was our top scoring phone out of our tests, earning a 69 out of 100 for an overall score, and netting it one of our Editor's Choice award for this category. It scored above average in every category, except for our lowest weighted metric, battery life. This was far outweighed by its great scores in the two most important metrics, sound quality and range. This phone by far had the best sound quality performance in our tests, and it a great phone to consider if there will be lots of obstacles between the base and the handset, or if you have previously had issues with interference on your current cordless phone.
AT&T CL84202 Review
Pros: Great range and sound quality
Cons: Short battery life
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This model tied for our highest score in this rating metric with the other Editor's Choice award winner, the CRL82212, with an 8 out of 10. Our panel of listeners felt that this phone was the clearest, without any background static and the easiest to understand.
This model earned the highest score in this rating metric, earning an 8 out of 10, 2 point above our next highest scoring model. This phone really excelled when it came to our obstructed range test, continuing to be audible the furthest away from its base, even when there were several walls between the handset and the base. This model also performed the best in the unobstructed range test, remaining clear at 840' away from the base station.
Ease of Use
This phone scored above average in this rating category, getting a 6 out of 10. For this category, we split ease of use between what most people would consider basic and advanced function, with a higher weight being placed on typical basic functions of the phone. When it came to the basic functions, this model scored particularly well by having a louder than average maximum ringer volume, as well as being the most readable up to 6' away from the handset in our tests.
This model of phone has a reasonable amount of back lit illumination for operation in a dark environment, as well as any key answer when receiving a call, and hyphenated numbers when placing a call. It only took 2 steps to call back a missed number, which we found out to be one of the most important features after talking to a wide variety of people about what they valued in a cordless phone. This phone does not have a silent/do not disturb mode, but it is possible to block unwanted calls from specific numbers. Unfortunately, we found it somewhat difficult to actually block a specific number in practice, requiring you to dial *60 and then listen to what we found to be a long, complicated menu. We did find it quite easy to navigate through the menus on this phone, being fans of the layout and the mechanical feel of the menu buttons.
This phone did not score as high as some of the other models we looked at when it came to being feature rich, but still scored above average, earning a 6 out of 10 in this category. However, this phone still scored the best overall, as this metric only made up 15% of the final score. The AT&T CL84202 had many of the most commonly expected features in a cordless phone, like being able to host additional handsets, maintaining a phonebook of stored features, having an answering machine, as well as functioning as a home intercom system. This model can have up to 12 handsets, not including the corded handset on the main base. This corded handset at the base allows this phone to function in a line power mode, making calls possible when the power is out but the phone line is intact.
The phone book capacity allows for up to 50 entries. We did find that this phone lacked some of the features that other models we tested did have. The main features that seemed to be missing were the absence of an auxiliary headset jack and belt clip on each handset, making hands free operation impossible, as well as a link to cell function. Leading into our next performance metric, this model of phone also has a low battery indicator.
This phone scored a little below average when it came to battery life, earning a 4 out of 10. This score is based on the results of our talk time test, where this phone lasted for 10 hours and 3 minutes, as well as the manufacturer claimed standby time (7 days). This performance did surprise us, as it exceeded the manufacturer's claimed talk time by a little over 3 hours. The rechargeable battery in this phone is a 400 mAh, nickel-metal hydride, and takes about 10 hours to completely charge, per the manufacturer's instructions. As mentioned above, this phone indicated that its battery was dying after 10 hours by flashing an indicator light as well as an audible beep through the handset. This phone died shortly after that, giving you just enough time to politely end a call before it cuts out.
This phone's performance and reasonable price give it a good value for those interested in having the best possible cordless phone. It scored the highest in our rating system, and with an MSRP of $90, it is not incredibly expensive when compared to some of the other models we reviewed. However, there is most likely a group of people that would never consider spending this much on a cordless phone, and if that is the case, then taking a look at either of our Best Buy award winners is a great option.
All in all, this would be the type of cordless phone that we would strongly recommend to a friend. It had great performances in the metrics that were weighted the highest, and the only drawback we found was a slightly shorter battery life, at 10 hours of talk time — and who really needs to talk for more than 10 hours on the phone without recharging it, anyway?
— David Wise and Austin Palmer