Some of us who haven't been able to give up the old landline phone are "blessed" with an overabundance of handsets. Not only do we have our iPhones with us all the time, but there are also handsets scattered about so when a landline call comes in -- usually a phone solicitation -- we can grab it. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to just have one handset that you'd have to use around the house? That's the idea behind the Panasonic KX-PRL262 Link-to-Cell Docking Station for iPhone (US$199.95), which allows you to link up to two iPhone 5 handsets (5/5s/5c) to your landline base station via Bluetooth.
Number of handsets: 2 included, plus 2 iPhones can be linked
Charging capability: Lightning compatible
Base station dimensions: 6.3 x 3.94 x 4.53 inches (160 mm x 100 mm x 115 mm)
Base station weight: .73 lb (330 grams)
Handset dimensions: 1.77 x .91 x 6.1 inches (45 mm x 23 mm x 155 mm)
Handset weight: .24 lb (110 grams)
Includes stereo speaker in base for Bluetooth streaming of music, which can be controlled via handset
Voice mail (answering machine) built in
Call blocking for up to 250 numbers
Ability for the handsets to be used as "key finders" when used with optional Bluetooth key detectors
The KX-PRL262 is a nice-looking unit. Black shiny plastic and bright color displays on the handsets make the entire thing look, well, modern. One of the handsets goes on the base unit, the other has its own little charging base that you can put elsewhere in your home or office. Of course, on the base is an adjustable Lightning charging post. The KX-PRL262 is MFi (Made For iPhone) certified by Apple, and I was able to place my Mophie Juice Pack Helium-equipped iPhone 5s onto the charger after taking the bottom of the case off.
Setting up the KX-PRL262 was simple, and I didn't need to look at the instructions. Pairing with my iPhone was also simple -- there's a very logical and easy-to-understand (English and Español) menu system on the handsets, and I was able to navigate to Bluetooth and pair my iPhone in seconds. For testing purposes, I also set up my wife's iPhone 5s as "cell 2" on the unit. A green LED appears on the base unit for each iPhone when they are within Bluetooth range.
I won't go through all of the functions of the KX-PRL262, since we're an Apple site, not a landline wireless phone review site. But what I was able to accomplish with the iPhones that were paired to the Link-to-Cell Docking Station was pretty impressive.
First, there's a function that will move all of your contact names and phone numbers (up to three per contact) from your iPhone's Contacts app to the base unit. That's great; I have over a thousand contact cards and it moved all of the contacts with phone numbers corresponding to them over to the base unit in about five minutes. Once again, this function was easy to do. For the contacts on my wife's iPhone, the import put her contacts into a "cell 2" subdirectory while mine were in "cell 1".
Next, I tried the music dock function. I didn't even need to select the dock in AirPlay -- once I pressed the play button on my iPhone, the music began streaming from the base station. I have to admit that the audio quality wasn't the best, but it was passable. Let's face it, the speaker on the base station is optimized for voice calls, not for music. It's fun to note that you can use one of the KX-PRL262 handsets as a remote for the music playback, raising and lowering the volume, skipping tracks, or pausing play.
But the big test was for what the KX-PRL262 is designed for -- taking incoming cell phone calls and transferring them seamlessly to the home handset. Why would you want to do this in the first place instead of just answering the cell phone calls on the iPhone? Well, if your house is like mine, there are areas where the cell phone reception is horrible. I could place my iPhone on the base station for charging in a location where cell phone service is much better, and use the Panasonic's handset to pick up the call. Even if my iPhone is in a pocket or bag, I could still answer it on the "landline" handsets.
How did this work? When calls came in on either one of the iPhones, both of the Panasonic handsets rang and displayed the name of the iPhone that was being called. Pressing a "cell" button on the handset let me pick up the call, essentially transferring it from the iPhone to the home handset.
Now, if my iPhone is in my pocket or sitting on the base station charging, how do I know if an SMS text message is coming in? Easy -- there's a function that allows you to get notification on the Panasonic handsets. Unfortunately this does not work with iMessages; only with SMS text messages.
The Panasonic KX-PRL262 Link-to-Cell Docking Station for iPhone serves a need for those who need both a landline and an iPhone (or two) by allowing the Panasonic handsets to answer both incoming landline and iPhone calls. It has an incredibly full feature set that I was unable to even scratch the surface of in this review, and can be expanded with options that range from additional handsets to key detectors.