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AT&T TL86103 Review

The AT&T TL86103 cordless phone.
Price:   $150 List | $119.65 at Amazon
Pros:  Tons of features
Cons:  Sub par range
Bottom line:  The priciest phone of the bunch, it has plenty of features but mediocre range
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   AT&T

Our Verdict

The AT&T TL86103 was above average in scoring with a 60 out of 100, but cost substantially more than any other phone we tested. While it performed well in our tests, and was particularly feature rich, it is hard to justify its MSRP of $150 with its abilities, especially when compared to some of the other models that we tested that cost a little over half as much and performed comparably.


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Score Product Price Our Take
68
$90
Editors' Choice Award
The best of the best, though it does sacrifice battery life for its terrific range
66
$60
Editors' Choice Award
It has fantastic sound quality and is extremely easy to use, but it is a little on the weak side when it comes to features
62
$90
Average performance on range and sound quality, but is incredibly feature rich
62
$100
Has plenty of features and a great battery life, but at the cost of sound quality
60
$150
The priciest phone of the bunch, it has plenty of features but mediocre range
57
$70
Average across the board, except the display is one of the easiest to read in the dark and at a distance
54
$60
Easiest to use of the economical models
53
$40
Best Buy Award
Above average range and sound quality for a great price
51
$40
Best Buy Award
A bare bones model that has exceptionally good sound quality for those on a budget
48
$60
Astonishingly long battery life, but that's about all it has going for it

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise


Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 25, 2016

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Performance Comparison


One of the most expensive phones that we tested  the TL86103 sit on its charging base.
One of the most expensive phones that we tested, the TL86103 sit on its charging base.

Sound Quality


This phone scored poorly in sound quality in our tests, earning a 4 out of 10. Our panel of judges noted that while this model was acceptably loud, there was a decent amount of background noise and static in the recording, something that was absent from the other AT&T phones we reviewed. Below you can hear a comparison of this model and our top scoring phone when it came to sound quality.

Range


The TL86103 scored below average, earning a 4 out of 10. This model made it 700' in our open range test, becoming extremely broken-up and intermittent shortly after that. This was about 140' shorter than our top scoring models.

The comparison of direct  line of sight range between cordless phones that we tested. Our testing area maxed out at 840 ft.
The comparison of direct, line of sight range between cordless phones that we tested. Our testing area maxed out at 840 ft.

A expected based on its open-range test, the TL86103 delivered a subpar performance in the obstructed range test, beginning to cut in and out at 180' from the base station.

Sound Quality


This model performed well in our sound quality test, showing an above average performance and tying for the runner up position with a score of 7 out of 10, closely following our top ranking models by a single point. Our panel of listeners felt that this phone was very clear, just a little bit of static keeping it away from the top score.

Ease of Use


This model scored right in the middle for ease of use, scoring a 5 out of 10 on our tests. The handset did have a backlit keypad, with blue numbers that we felt were aesthetically pleasing, but overall it was a bit dim and was only illuminated enough to make dialing out a number easy.

While it only lit up the number pad and screen  this model would be easy enough to dial in a dark room  but don't count on easily changing any other settings.
While it only lit up the number pad and screen, this model would be easy enough to dial in a dark room, but don't count on easily changing any other settings.

We found that the ringer for the lost handset function was on the quieter side, measured at 61 dBa on our meter at 6' away. The display became hard for us to read at 5' away from the handset, and almost impossible at 6'.

The TL86103 proved very difficult to read  hard to read at 5' away and completely illegible at 6'.
The TL86103 proved very difficult to read, hard to read at 5' away and completely illegible at 6'.

This model ranked about average at navigating through its various menus and slightly above at inputting names to the phonebook, but this phone excelled at linking to a cell phone. It would easily reconnect if the mobile device was brought out of range of the base, and will announce the name of the person calling if the directory is already downloaded.

Features


This model is feature-rich, meriting a score of 8 out of 10. This model can host up to 12 expandable handsets, and is also capable of linking to mobile devices. The main base has a corded phone, as well as an integrated answering machine. The handsets for this model also have a belt clip and headphone jack for adding an external headset for hands free operation.

Battery Life


The TL86103 had an above average battery life, scoring a 7 out of 10 in this metric. This model lasted for 13 hours and 32 minutes in are talk time test, couple with a manufactured claimed standby time of up to 7 days and a charging time of 11 hours to fully fill the handset battery. Surprisingly, the TL86103 surpasses the manufacturer claimed talk time by 6 hours and 32 minutes.

Value


The TL86103 is the most expensive phone we reviewed, and while it had an above average performance in our tests, we found the high price unpalatable, severely reducing the value of this model.

Conclusion


While this is a capable model of cordless phone, it is hard to recommend this due to its high price, as well as being outperformed in every category that we rated by a different model. This model of phone is capable of linking to mobile devices, and is capable of voice command when hooked up to a computer
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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