As with most things, however, you get what you pay for. This bundle suffers from two major flaws. First, the battery life shrivels in a relatively short period of time. And second, you can't add any more phones to the system: what you buy is what you get, which, as we'll point out, isn't entirely logical.
With its two-tone, powder-blue-and-off-white color scheme, this pretty phone would look perfect in the Victorian lace-filled home of a little old lady (although what she'd do with three mailboxes we're not sure). Well spaced and backlit in bright orange, the dial-pad keys, along with a three-line LCD screen, make dialing and using the phone easy, even for folks with less than 20/20 vision.
Those who are accident prone should be wary though: the handset sits uneasily upright in the compact base and is surprisingly easy to knock over. Plus, the short stub antenna comes to a rounded point that could put out an eye.
The feature set is extensive: conference calling, a handset speakerphone, a 50-name/number caller ID and call-waiting caller ID (for subscribers), a 50-name phone book that isn't transferable between handsets, a handset-to-handset intercom, programmable ring and key tones, call transfer between handsets, and memo record on the base. Still, you can't record a call unless you wait for the answering machine to kick in and record it as a message. The digital chip can hold 15 minutes of messages, but there is no way to limit the length of an incoming message. A caller can spend as long as 4 minutes rambling. The machine cuts people off only if there's just 30 seconds left on the chip.
Now, about that illogical lack of a handset expansion option: The inclusion of three mailboxes alludes to the possibility of having a three-person household, but the EV2650 supports only the two handsets that come in the box. It would make more sense to allow another handset for that hypothetical third person. As it stands, the system makes the most sense for an individual or a small family who would use the third mailbox for business purposes.
Sound quality is acceptable. The system cranks out plenty of volume from the earpieces, the handset speakerphones, and the answering machine speaker, though there's a hint of scratchiness at the top levels. Although the phone operates in the 2.4GHz bands, its digital-spread-spectrum technology kept away any interference that our Wi-Fi network might normally cause.
While the VTech EV2650 lived up to its rated nickel-metal-hydride-powered eight-hour talk time over several months of moderate usage, its rated 4.5-day standby time dwindled down to just 2 days over the same period. The handset range is average for a 2.4GHz mode, around 100 feet without obstructions before the signal starts to skip.