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Doro Comfort 1015 cordless DECT answerphone: on test

Price: £45 (£55 Duo pack)

Home phones seemed to have finished their evolution years ago, when DECT set a world standard for digital cordless phones, but there’s still a lot going on.

The world’s population is ageing, and noisy Western living also sees many of us suffering hearing loss well before old age, as well as poor sight. We need louder, more readable phones earlier than we’d like to think.

The Doro Comfort range is designed to plug the gap between big-button phones for the elderly and the fiddly buttons and cramped displays of most home phones. They pack a 24dB maximum volume so they can be heard easily even without a hearing aid, and they’re also hearing aid compatible.

The Comfort 1015 is the flagship cordless model of the range, combining a DECT handset with a speakerphone, with a base station containing a 30-minute answering machine.

Doro Comfort 1015

It doesn’t look like a big-button phone for the elderly, with a high gloss black finish, but the buttons are chunky and clearly-labelled on the same scale as a Sky TV remote control, and the display is large.

Actually, it’s just good design, comfortable to hold with a reassuring weight, and very easy to use, although if anything, some of the labelling could have been slightly larger, such as on the central scroll button. Among special controls are a lock button to stop children making unauthorised calls, and a silent mode to turn off the ringer.

The display doesn’t quite live up the rest of the handset’s simplicity. It’s backlit, but the 12 characters on the central readout are made up of very thin elements, spaced tightly, which make even the time quite hard to read. Just a bit more chunkiness would have been welcome.

The base station is a lovely high-gloss black plinth, with four simple buttons for operating the answering machine, and a clear display for the number of messages. It’s easy to use and the speaker is very clear. There’s also a paging button to ring the handset – handy if you can’t remember where you left it.

It’s GAP (Generic Access Profile) compatible, so you can register other GAP-compatible phone handsets to receive calls, although they won’t be able to operate most other features.

Doro Comfort 1015: Setup

The handset’s pre-registered with the base station, so out of the box, the only feature you need to set up is the time and date before the phone’s ready to go, though most people will want to record their own answerphone message, which you do through the handset.

The handset can be used to listen to messages from the answering machine if you’ve got the Duo package with a second handset and charger. Both handsets will be pre-registered with the base station, and you can use the intercom button to talk between handsets.

Doro Comfort 1015: Use

It’s loud enough for most users with plenty of headroom for the hard of hearing, in either handset or speakerphone mode – and speakerphones are now vital whenever you’re trying to navigate any sort of call centre. This volume isn’t down to simple speaker loudness, but to acoustic design which focuses sound out of the phone instead of letting it leak into the phone body, as in cheaper phones.

However, in speaker mode you’re in walkie-talkie country, where you have to wait for the other person to finish talking before you speak.

You can choose from a selection of 10 more or less alarming and musical ring tones, and different rings for internal and external calls if the phone’s connected to a PABX switchboard.

Battery life in the handset is rated to around 100 hours of standby and 10 hours of call time, and we certainly didn’t have any problem in normal use with the handset running flat.

Doro Comfort 1015: Features

The phone book can hold 50 numbers, and although you can’t save numbers from the list of up to 20 recent incoming or outgoing calls, it will show the names of callers in your phonebook. You might need to read the manual the first time you add a number, but after that it’s straightforward.

The answerphone has capacity for up to 59 messages, totalling 30 minutes in standard mode or 15 minutes in high quality recording mode, although the standard mode is quite clear. You can also record a personal memo, and use any tone dialling phone to call in and check your messages remotely, with a PIN number for security.

Doro Comfort 1015: Verdict

There are certainly more cheaper DECT answerphones available, but for the build quality and range of features, the Doro Comfort 1015 is very good value against other premium cordless phones, particularly the Duo pack with a premium of just £10 for the extra handset.