Bang & Olufsen BeoCom5 – back to the landline?

With Mobile World Congress poised to present the latest in cell phone innovation, you may be surprised to find us making a reverse-charge back into the world of the humble landline. But this chic cordless from sound-system heavyweight Bang & Olufsen more than merits a passing comment. The elegant BeoCom5 uses the same acoustics as the company’s famous loudspeakers to promise surround-sound audio.

Bang & Olufsen has certainly earned its stripes in the surround-sound arena, so transferring this thinking to BeoCom5 can’t have been much of a stretch. The platform for this is the striking speakerphone, an aluminium shield of supersonics with a new definition for the word “cordless”. Simply take the surround-sound unit with you between rooms, handset held fast with a built-in battery, to summon the boardroom or long-overdue family reunion into your living space.

It may be cutting a trend with the acoustics, but BeoCom5 takes a more conventional approach to fashion than its banana-like predecessor BeoCom 2. In fact, when removed from its surround-sound / charger unit it appears quite plain and, dare I say, sensible. But beyond its highly-presentable black casing with daring aluminium scrollwheel, the phone itself has hidden dimensions.

Clearly happiest as part of a crowd, this sociable speakerphone lets you customise each handset’s 2-inch LCD display with a unique colour pattern to suit individual family members or match the décor of your rooms. Once happy with the aesthetics, you can even tweak the tones for further customisation.

If you’ve got the space – and ears – available, you can add up to eight handsets for the one phone. Now unless you’re rattling around in a B&O-bedecked commune, this may seem a little excessive, but when you learn that a single BeoCom5 unit can handle two separate external lines as well as VoIP and limitless internal calls, it may not be quite so outrageous. With all lines buzzing and phone book bulging, you’ll be relieved to learn you can save up to 400 contacts in the base unit – convenient for assembling an audience ahead of an impromptu group pow-wow.

Yes, the BeoCom5 is impressive and hands-down the smartest thing that’s ever going to grace my lounge, but is it enough to singly revive mass interest in the landline? Bang & Olufsen has clearly delivered another cutting-edge piece of kit, but whether it can bring the cordless back from the brink remains to be seen.