The number of cold calls I get during the day means that I don't even bother to answer my home phone most of the time. Any "real" people call my mobile, with the home phone relegated to a relic, a curious leftover of the requirement of having a fixed telephone line for broadband. But BT's BT8500 home phone could have me dusting off the home phone concept once more -- it's capable of blocking up to 100 per cent of nuisance calls.
And it's surprisingly foolproof. Screening calls as they come in, numbers in your contacts list get pushed through automatically, and calls you've selected for a block list get, well, blocked. Unrecognised numbers get screened by the "Call Guardian" (BT's name for the TrueCall technology it's exclusively licensed and built into the base unit) -- this asks the caller to say his or her name before you even hear the phone ringing, informing you who is down the line only once they've answered.
It's then just a matter of choosing whether to accept the call, sending the caller to voicemail, or blocking them outright by hitting the appropriate number key. The BT8500 will remember your choice, and add the caller to the appropriate list automatically going forward. If a caller is a robot and doesn't give a name the phone can also recognise that and act appropriately, while BT has found that many human cold-callers just give up anyway once the BT8500 informs them that the call is being screened.
In all, the phone can block 1,000 numbers, and can be set up straight away to automatically block a range of call types, including international calls, withheld numbers or calls coming from a particular area code, to name just a few options. There's also a Do Not Disturb mode that can be turned on at hours you set, with the option of allowing VIP callers to override it.
As for more standard features, the wireless handsets can store 200 name and number contacts (automatically copying them between handsets if you buy a multi-pack), has a 60 minute message recorder, a range of 300m outdoors and 50m indoors and rechargeable batteries good for 21 hours of talk time and 240 hours standby.
Available in single, twin, triple and quad packs, the BT8500 is available now from BT, with prices starting at £49.99.