back to article Pond, rocks or quicksand in your 1km garden? Get a rugged DECT phone

BT has launched a new cordless phone, named Elements, designed for challenging environments - notably your garden or a forecourt of some kind - and incorporating a range of 1km, or 0.625 of a mile, if you prefer. Built to IP67 it’s dustproof, waterproof to 1m, and is a successor to an earlier BT phone of the same name. BT is …

  1. Mr_Pitiful

    I'm gonna order one now

    I've been looking for half decent coverage around my house, this sounds just the thing

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Mr Pitiful: Re: I'm gonna order one now

      Mr P,

      me too, as it will need to provide sterling service in the new workshop/man cave.

      J

    2. Christian Berger

      Re: I'm gonna order one now

      Well best of all, DECT basestations are _much_ cheaper than GSM ones, so you can have multiple ones for better coverage. You can even buy special sets of them which support roaming.

      DECT surprisingly seems to still have a lot of life in it. Particularly since a very popular German manufacturer of CPEs has an integrated DECT basestation in many of their models.

  2. Mystic Megabyte

    Bzzzz

    Didn't have any wolves but staying at a friend's gaff in Brittany we had a one metre diameter Asiatic hornet nest in the garden. I'd take on the wolves rather than the estimated 5000 hornets in that nest.

    BTW the BT badged Siemens cordless DECT phone circa 1998 had a range of about 500 yards.

  3. Tanuki

    Separate base-station?

    This would be useful for me but only if the 'base station' DECT transmitter is separate from the handset's charging cradle.

    [Tanuki Towers has walls over a foot thick - solid early-Victorian masonry - which block RF rather well. I'd want to put the base-station transmitter in a waterproof box mounted high up on the exterior to the house just like I've had to do with the Ethernet-to-2.4GHz adapter to get coverage down into the woods]

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Re: Separate base-station?

      Just get yourself a DECT repeater, many brands have them,

      1. Tanuki

        Re: Separate base-station?

        I'd be more minded to breach the EU Terminal Directive and bolt a N-socket on to the back of the base-station then attach a nice chunky length of coax for an external antenna. I only did the ethernet-to-2.4GHz thing because I could use PoE.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Separate base-station?

          Or obtain a Siemens/Gigaset base station to be put outside. With the current state of DECT, compatibility is a non-issue.

          I'm less sure of wolves being able to overhaul a ride-on mower, but maybe they're more ept mechanically tnan I give them credit for.

    2. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Tanuki: Re: Separate base-station?

      Tanuki,

      likewise, ours is 16c Devon cottage, the [cob] walls are 2.5-3 foot thick, which attenuates virtually every signal...

      J

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better than tha last one?

    I bought a 1km range BT dect phone, and its actual range was less than the 100m of my old phone. When I complained I was given a RMA, no well it must be faulty or any questions, just admitted the range is not as advertised.

    If anyone can get 250m out of one of these let me know.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Better than tha last one?

      The 1km range will be with no obstructions, in ideal circumstances. You should get more than 100m provided you don't live in a Faraday cage, but then many people live in houses which seem to be opaque to the RF spectrum.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Better than tha last one?

        It's also possible the older phone was built to looser standards in terms of transmit power, hence could punch a bit further.

        I believe foil-backed drywall is a problem for RF, but I'm no radio engineer so don't quote me :-)

        Steven R

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Better than tha last one?

          "I believe foil-backed drywall is a problem for RF"

          Bigtime. Propagation is via "holes" in the wall, but with increasing use of metallised glass and door linings those are being stopped up quite nicely, TYVM.

          "but I'm no radio engineer so don't quote me"

          I am and you can.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Better than tha last one?

            Cheers Alan, good to know I'm not talking absolute twaddle ;-)

            What's the purpose of foil backing anyway? Just more resistant to aging than plastic or something?

            1. Fatman

              Re: Better than tha last one?

              What's the purpose of foil backing anyway?

              A quick guess would be heat reflection. When I was a kid, and during an attic remodel of my old house in Chicago, we used foil backed insulation in the rafter bays. I clearly remember the wording of the instructions that was printed on the foil face of the insulation: install this side toward winter heated space.

              In my current house (built in 1956), there is foil faced insulation in the walls.

              1. Steven Raith

                Re: Better than tha last one?

                Suppose that would make sense. Would also explain why my victorian flat (not posh - just an old town) is fairly nippy at the moment.

                Steven "pulls covers over self" R

  5. Cosby

    New?

    I have been buying these for deployment in a factory for a few years now... Old news!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New?

      "Built to IP67 it’s dustproof, waterproof to 1m, and is a successor to an earlier BT phone of the same name."

    2. tin 2

      Re: New?

      I wonder if el reg has quickly googled and got the wrong picture. I was deploying the pictured many moons ago too, but there is indeed a 2015 version that looks a lot different. I don't think the pictured is IP67, nor immersible.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Panasonic

    have been doing some fine ones for a number of years, if they survive our warehouse staff, they will survive anything.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Panasonic

      I had a Panasonic in the '90s that worked over 200M from my house, I know because I accidentally dropped it in my work bag and it rang as I was driving away.

      Child proof to a fair degree too.

      I worked for a Garden Machinery company in London, we used to put right a lot of ride ons that had been screwed up by cowboys and rats (chewed through the drive belts) but not so many wolves.

      The best one we did for a customer had a tiny beer cooler and a Pioneer stereo system that we added.

  7. Quotes

    Illuminating

    I have used the current version for the past 8 years. The built in torch is very handy for powercuts or if you need to find something in the shed. However on both of my handsets the LCD screen is now breaking up so you can't see numbers clearly anymore. Current range is approx 150m. Make sure you position your phone base station a couple of metres away from your wifi. Happy to hear there is a new model because when the time comes I'd want to replace with the same.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Illuminating

      " The built in torch is very handy for powercuts or if you need to find something in the shed."

      I'd prefer a battery pack in the base so you can still use 'em when said powercuts happen.

  8. Fink-Nottle

    Phone would have been handy a few years ago when I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

  9. Afernie
    Coat

    "Help! Muriel! Wolves are overhauling the ride-on!"

    It runs beautifully now, but they could use a hand with the transmission.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Help! Muriel! Wolves are overhauling the ride-on!"

      > they could use a hand with the transmission.

      http://www.wolfgarten-tools.co.uk/power-tools/lawnmowers

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How is it that I can buy an unlocked smartphone with 100x the functionality for less money than a simple dect handset with the screen and keyboard of a 1990's pocket calculator and no features whatsoever?

    Why can't a dect handset have a nice gui interface and some useful features?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "Why can't a dect handset have a nice gui interface and some useful features?"

      They can: Go look at http://www.avm.de/en

      I have a Fritzbox 7390 and 3 fritzfon MT-Fs, the new models have an even more impressive featureset

  11. bminish

    DECT + Mobile

    Why can't I have a Mobile that also has DECT support that I can register to our DECT system(S) It would be much kinder on battery and more reliable than SIP over Wifi

    1. P. Lee

      Re: DECT + Mobile

      +1 for consumers, but which mobile network is going to "subsidise" that phone on a plan.

      Actually I've noticed that networks don't subsidise more than you can get the phone retail if you really hunt around.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Encryption? Many 'encrypted' DECT phones that I tested sent 30 seconds of plain-text speech before the encryption kicked-in; many DECT phones that I tested weren't encrypted, despite saying 'encrypted' on the box; the DECT phones that were encrypted survived around one week of analysis before I had full voice capture. The good news is that these results are being fed back into the DECT development team ( effectively two people! ) and the algorithm experts have already prepared the new crypto, tho' I've probably broken that too! I now have real-time plaintext from DECT.

    On range? I was able to record the voice/data from a ( selected ) Portable Part at 2 kilometres near-line-of-sight, discriminating easily from the other unwanted devices. Professionals will just dump all the data-packets/channels to disc for later analysis, but I was looking at a proportional data-take.

    Summary: DECT is really nice, very compatible, evolving to be a major player in the Internet of Things, especially with the low energy variants. It has effectively Zero Privacy/Zero Security, but you already knew that? As long as you don't have neighbours as 'bad' as me, hidden within a mile-radius, then it's safe for all your important secrets. Don't use it for mission-critical, financially-sensitive stuff, unless it is *proved* safe.

    1. Christian Berger

      Well if you use it to make calls over the public telephone network your calls are almost certain to be recorded anyhow. So people listening in via the radio interface is probably not an actual problem.

      The problem on the radio interface is fraudsters calling premium numbers they own on your bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Current problem vs future problem

        OK Christian, Fraud is the current Voice/landline problem but when 'the Internet' is very soon fashionably bolted on to everything in your home, with otherwise excellent DECT ULE connecting your slow & fast sensors & actuators, I'd personally like to have as secure as reasonably possible (ASARP) systems. DECT is nearly there, but not quite! I'm very impressed by the teams working on DECT and CAT-iq, so I think they'll get there in time

        1. Christian Berger

          Re: Current problem vs future problem

          Well I'm not sure if DECT is suitable for home automation, it seems much more likely that WLAN will win in that area. Particularly since WLAN is a global standard. However having worked in that business I'm sure vendors will be able to mess it out in so many ways that the actual network won't be a big problem.

  13. xj25vm

    Old photo - and where are the real life tests?

    What is the point of a professional publication like The Reg - if you just publish effectively manufacturer's brochures? I could go on BT's website or a retailer's website if I just wanted to read (and blindly believe) the specs. What is the point? Where are the real life tests and critical analysis? And the photo, as others have pointed out - is of the old model, which has been available for years. Minimum effort blogging - as I can't even bring myself to call it journalism?!

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