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The tyranny of growing old – big phone buttons (review)
4.8Overall Score

Price (RRP): $80 plus Careline accessories
Manufacturer: VTech

GadgetGuy gets lots of questions from Baby Boomers and Seniors about accessibility – things like ‘big-buttons’ on smartphones and landline handsets.

When VTech contacted us about its new 2018 range of Careline cordless landline phones and companion devices and its support of the Royal Institute for the Deaf and Blind Children we were keen to put the products through their paces.

There are currently seven products in the 2018 Careline line-up – four phones, a 2-way doorbell, an extension ringer and an SOS pendant.

What is nice is that these are all extremely affordable starting with the heart of the system – VTech 17450 CareLine DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone with VSMART – at A$89 and the accessories range from $39 to $59. It won’t break the bank.

Let’s start with VTech

It is a Chinese global supplier of electronic learning products from infancy to preschool and the world’s largest manufacturer of cordless phones. It is also one of the top 50 electronic manufacturing services providers globally. It was founded in 1976 and has maintained a reputation for quality electronics at affordable prices.

To be fair, it was also fined US$650,000 this year for a data breach comprising 4,854,209 parent’s accounts and their 6,368,509 children’s profiles. Not to make light of this, any company making Internet-connected devices is a target and needs to beef up security.

Fortunately, the VTech Careline range has no such issues.

VTech 17450 CareLine DECT 6.0 Cordless Phone with VSMART $89

It is a cordless, DECT6.0, digital answering machine phone that works with PSTN, ADSL and NBN. The most distinguishing features are the huge backlit, talking, keys and you can put four passports sized photos assigned to speed dial (M1-4) on it.

To say it is foolproof is an understatement with absolutely no need to enter the menu system to make or take calls.

You will need to set the date/time and optionally record a message if you use the answering machine or want to set up the SOS distress function. All very straightforward.

It supports up to five handsets (including the base). Additional handsets are $59 each. These can also be used as an intercom. The Doorbell also counts as a handset.

While most seniors would be able to set up the base unit, it is best left to the family to do so. All settings are power-fail backed up so you won’t have to reinstate them after a blackout.


  • Power Fail back-up on the base system lets you make calls during a mains power interruption with your cordless phone.
  • Advanced Dual Antenna System for extended range up to 300 metres from the base
  • Wireless (Wi-Fi) Network Friendly
  • Large orange backlit easy to read display and keypad
  • Extra bright visual ring indicator on handset and base
  • Extra loud ringer on base – up to 90dB
  • Talking Digits – announces numbers as they are pre-dialled
  • Volume booster function and hearing aid compatible
  • SOS help button on handset with user pre-recordable alert message
  • Equalizer switch to change sound characteristics to suit user (e.g. clear voice)
  • High-quality hands-free on handset and base
  • 70 name and number phonebook
  • Four one-touch memory keys on handsets / four quick dial memory keys on base (photo keys)
  • Calling Number Display capable with 30 number Call List and Calling Number Display Announce
  • Calling Number Display Call Guard allows you to block unwanted PRIVATE and/or UNAVAILABLE calls plus the Call Block List which allows you to block incoming calls from up to 50 specific user programmable numbers
  • Alarm function – program up to 10 separate alarm reminders
  • Visual Message Wait Indicator shows when messages left on network voicemail service
  • Desk/Wall Mountable, 10 last number redial
  • Adjustable handset ring volume and melodies
  • Call timer
  • Mute function
  • Date & Time display
  • Up to 10 hours talk time / 100 hours standby time
  • Answering machine with 30 minutes record time with slow playback function, time & date stamp and call screening

In testing: