Panasonic KX-TGP500: A Great Wireless SIP Phone

I've written a bit about our move from landline telephony to VOIP telephony in our family. We use a cloud based VOIP PBX called Onsip and we have ported all of our land lines to their cloud based system. We have several homes on one Onsip account and our total phone bill including international calls, across multiple homes, is generally $100/month or less. It's fantastic.

But we have struggled to find the perfect phone handsets. We like wireless handsets that have a small charging cradle and nothing else. We sometimes connect headsets to them and sometimes not.

We've tried a bunch of vendors but this spring we finally landed on the answer. It's a Panasonic DECT system called the KX-TGP500. It looks like this:

Panasonic sip phones

The black box is called a gateway and that is what you connect to your home network. It connects via the Internet to your SIP provider, in our case Onsip. It's about the size of a CD jewel case and it sits easily underneath a desk somewhere. The handsets connect wirelessly to the gateway.

The range is very good. We get good connectivity a floor up and down and throughout a 3000sf space.

The handsets look nice, are not too large, and have good build quality. And they appear to be very reliable, although we've only been using them for four or five months. You can get additional handsets for the gateway.

Here's a review of the system I found on Amazon. I agree with it completely:

3 simultaneous calls and up to 6 cordless handsets, perfect for small business or home office.

Range and call quality is amazing. All the basic features: Speakerphone, Transfer, Intercom, Message Waiting Indicator, etc.

Setup was easy, since our VoIP provider (voiSip) was able to do it remotely in about 2 minutes.

If you have a VOIP provider and are looking for a new SIP phone, I strongly recommend this Panasonic phone. If you are still on a traditional land line carrier and are getting bilked, I strongly suggest you go VOIP.


Comments (Archived):

  1. matthughes

    I was just looking into a new home phone system yesterday – thanks for the tip.

    1. Techman

      Talk about the right post at the right time! lol 🙂

  2. William Mougayar

    Do you keep at least 1 landline anyways for local calls and as emergency, or it’s all VOIP and cell lines?I still have 1 land line going into our home (with a second fax line on same number), and that’s down from 4 lines 10 years ago.

    1. fredwilson

      we got rid of faxes and replaced it with scan and email. i don’t have any landlines. our backup is our cell phones.

      1. ShanaC

        What if that goes too?Sent from Obadiah, the pocket computer

        1. fredwilson

          We go radio silent

          1. William Mougayar

            Right! We’ll have chip implants in our brains and that will enable silent communications. Humans will communicate with each other like computers via APIs. The APIs know about your friends and relationships & adjust privacy settings automatically. It’s kind of like what we do manually and repeatedly every time we hook up to a new service that wants our social graph to boot itself up.

        2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          sorry if this is obvious but what is ‘obadiah, the pocket computer’?

      2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        Have you tried HelloFax. I tried them for a couple of long faxes and was very happy.

        1. fredwilson

          Nope. I am done with faxes

  3. Vitomir Jevremovic

    funny that they still have those ugly screens

  4. LE

    Fun fact. Mike Oeth was on “Wife Swap”. The show is probably on the web somewhere archived it’s was an interesting episode.…Mike lives (or lived don’t know if he is still there) where I used to live. So when the “wife swap” episode appeared I sent him an email and met him at the local Starbucks in Yardley PA to find out the inside scoop on how that whole thing happened and what he was doing at the time (Junction Networks which was featured on the show, was operating out of his house). Mike’s a great guy. One of the things that I remember from the “play by play” is how he had no time to think (iirc) when they decided to put him on the show. They give you the contract and basically you have a few days to sign (once again iirc). I know of another person (who I helped – ) who made it (and got funded) on Shark Tank. Same story as far as MO with a different production company. She was also on one of those home renovation shows and got a room in her house renovated and publicity for her business.The reason I point this out is to encourage people to reach out and make contacts with people that they don’t know. All it took was one email to Mike, and we had a meeting and I learned some things and made a contact. The citikitty contact I made simply by striking up a conversation at Starbucks and it led to a few worthwhile connections as well that persist to this day 6 years later.

    1. kenberger

      that is interesting. I’m talking to Mike now about business ideas, and he handled the hacker situation I just mentioned quite well.

    2. BillMcNeely

      I contact people I find through Twitter convos or who I find through online articles. Some I speak to over the phone, email and ocasionally in person. I found Ryan Kuder this way who opened my eyes to Startups 3 years ago. Interacting with a Inc reporter via Twitter got my first firm 3GPower2 in that magazine. I am currently using Jon Labes’ (Formerly of StockTwits ) firm @StationCreator on my new project @StartupGuru.TV. I found him through @scottbalster of @EmployTown. I don’t have a network outside of defense contracting so I have to make one. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.

  5. LE

    We don’t have any home phone lines at all. Really no need to with each person having their own cell phone.Also, legacy landlines can be ported to google voice (as I’ve pointed out before). You simply move them first to a cell provider (I used AT&T) and then once there you move them to google voice. (Last I checked you can’t go directly from landline to GV.) Once on google voice you can (if you want not necessary) use this device which allows you to hook up an ordinary POTs handset and use it like a landline:…I bought one but still haven’t hooked it up yet.

    1. fredwilson

      Cell service in our homes is spotty. Which is a feature not a bug!

      1. LE

        Well if you ever need to fix that feature, and if you use AT&T for cell (although others my also have) you can always install an AT&T Microcell:…It routes your cell calls over your internet connection on the fly and gives you coverage where none existed. Afaik, it’s portable so you could take this anywhere and have the same advantages of better cell coverage. Now that I’m thinking of it I wonder if this would be a way around roaming issues. (Seems to good to be true..)Word from the people in the AT&T store is that you can finagle this for free if you play the “your service sucks” in my area card.

        1. steve

          After hours on the phone we got one for free and it made things worse. The handoff between cell tower and microcell dropped calls all the time (and yes, we turned off the handoff setting). I’d prefer calls to fail before they start then to drop one minute in.

        2. fredwilson

          Yeah. I am not inclined to fix it. I have my phone on WiFi when I’m at home or in the office

      2. thinkdisruptive

        Cable service in our neighborhood is spotty, which is a bug, not a feature if you’re going to depend on VOIP.

        1. Techman

          Interesting point. I wonder what @fredwilson:disqus would do if his DSL service had an outage. Of course he could try hooking the phone to Time Warner, but what if that is not working as well? Surely a rare event, but anything can happen.

  6. Jon Smirl

    Does the base station have a RJ-11 jack to plug in a normal phone line? Alarm systems need that. That is the only reason we have a landline.

    1. LE

      “Alarm systems need that.”A few options for that (although I suspect the answer to the RJ11 question is “yes”.)a) cell enabled alarm system (some hardwired systems use cell backup anyway) Normally about $10 per month last I checked.b) central station over the internet (CS notified over the internet not by POTS)c) Elk or Ness M1 security system (I own two Elk systems) which you can control and get notified on your iphone.…You can actually control the elk by an ssh sessions as well and you can have it send a txt message to your cell phone when security violations happen. Then you can make your own zone determinations (what zone has been violated) and view perhaps remote video and decide to call the police rather than a central station thereby avoiding false alarms.Of course this doesn’t help with a home invasion or when you can’t get the txt or alert on your iphone, but the truth is many alarm systems work just fine (had family in the business) with just a “local” alarm which means the alarm horn goes off and the burglar is scarred and leaves in 5 minutes which is at least the time it would take for the police to arrive (or longer).For the “home invasion” example you could program in a code that when that happens (say you press the panic button) notifies 1 or 10 relatives who know that when they get that message it is a big emergency. So that’s like RAFM (redundant array of family members) are your central station.Or maybe somebody could developed crowd sourced alarm monitoring.

      1. Jon Smirl

        There is definitely room for disruption in the alarm and alarm monitoring businesses. I’ve been exploring this area for the last couple of years if any of you VC types want to talk.Monitoring handles the case of fire when an immediate response is needed. We had an electrical fire once a long time ago so I know the value of this. If the alarm hadn’t been monitored we probably would have lost the entire structure.The $10 month cell option is a supplement fee added to landline monitoring. No one I know of will do cell only for $10 – more like $35/mth.I’m aware of the Elk but it would be a pain to pull out my existing DSC system because of all the hardwired sensors. Instead I hooked a serial interface board up to the DSC.I also checked out central station over the Internet. It was mess because I’d have to change out the DSC system. It is not enough of an improvement to justify the hassles. But I’d probably go this way if I started over.

        1. LE

          “I’ve been exploring this area for the last couple of”The key to this is getting the local alarm businesses on board. Installing equipment is not trivial even wireless and homeowners don’t want to deal with this. Not to mention they make money off the monitoring and it allows them to make less on the equipment.It is a good business though.

    2. fredwilson

      No it does not.

  7. kenberger

    Fred– or for about $50 more your readers can go 1 better and get this model instead: $208 currently (about $150 for the 500).The 550 (instead of your 500) has a speakerphone and full keypad built-in to the base instead of that plain black box you have. Sometimes it’s nice to have the desktop speakerphone experience. We just bought a bunch of these for our apartments and our 2 offices in the US and Asia.I too love the product. You can also get a corded headset to plug into the wireless handset and let the handset hang from your belt as you walk and talk. Polycom makes a couple models that are slicker, but this phone optimizes the cordless experiences (a big deal for me).DECT is a wonderful technology because it has huge range and little interference. A world apart from Bluetooth.

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for the tip Ken. Sounds perfect for the office

  8. JimHirshfield

    What kind of analytics do you get? Would the service you have be good for a sales team of 4 (4 ppl / 4 lines)?

    1. ianb

      For that you need

    2. fredwilson

      I don’t know about analytics. But Daniel turned me on to Onsip. They used it in the first Disqus office

    3. Sip Maven

      Hi Jim. I’ve worked for OnSIP for 7 years. Almost all of our business is with SMB’s (Fred being a welcome exception!). You get access to realtime CDR’s and we have all the tools needed for a business PBX.Tim Cleves

  9. OnePageCRM

    Fred, that’s very much like what we use too, and with VoIP co , but I think the UX of this and other DECT phones is light years behind a standard mobile phone. The first handset out with an improved screen / menus etc will have me running for it.

  10. kenberger

    these phones also bring up a “feature not a bug” issue: you configure the phone using a web interface (type the phone’s ip address into a browser to see it), this is true for both the polycoms and panasonics. The phones have a setting to turn this on or off. the panasonic automatically turns it off frequently, which seems like a pain.well, someone brought 1 of our polycom phones home and somehow had it exposed to the public internet and left the default password. a hacker got in and managed to make $1000s of calls overnight to Latvia(!) It’s much less likely that this would happen with the panasonic’s behavior.

  11. bogorad

    What about phonebook syncing? That’s the biggest reason we use older Nokias (Symbian S60-type) as SIP-over-WiFi phones at home. Symbian can sync its phonebook with Google Contacts easily. Can those DECT phones do that?

    1. fredwilson

      Don’t know. Haven’t tried. But that’s a cool feature

    2. kenberger

      you can only do manual imports/exports, which isn’t nearly as automatic as you’re suggesting but it’s something. But you’d probably only want to sync your top 10 (speed dial) numbers anyway (and the phone only can store 100 numbers), so just do quick tab separated value file, each line containing name [tab] phonenum, and import that into your phones.To call the rest of your contacts, as well as phone numbers on most web pages, onsip has a “Click to call” extension for chrome and ffox, and an Outlook plugin, which rings your onsip phone and places the call.(my god– you’d think i work for these companies!! i should get a life!)

  12. jason wright

    Digitally enhanced cordless telephones are the number one source of radiation in homes that have them. I had Panasonic DECT phones in my place but decided to stop using them a few years ago after reading a couple of health reports. Sorry for the neg.

  13. ianb

    Somebody’s still using a landline carrier?

  14. Majestic

    Thanks Fred, not 30 mins earlier I was discussing with my wife what sort of wireless VOIP phone system we should buy for our new home – your article and the comments are a great help in our decision making process.

    1. fredwilson


  15. Sip Maven

    Thanks for mentioning OnSIP in your post Fred. I’ve been working here for 7 years and its taken that long for a decent DECT phone to come out. The SNOM M3 phones had fiddly batteries and mediocre call quality. Aastra’s offerings were okay but never really caught on with customers, and Polycom’s KIRK phones were not fully compatible with OnSIP. Panasonic’s DECT phones are the first cordless devices that really seem to work as promised.We’ve got customers doing some interesting things with them; a school has them in their classrooms (1 base station per 4 classrooms) and its saved them a considerable amount of money, while employees of a hot desking design firm take their cordless phones to any available work space. SIP apps on smartphones are the probable wave of the future but decent sounding DECT phones will be with us for a few more years.

    1. fredwilson

      i have a sip client on my android. i use Bria. but there is something about the idea of a “landline” phone in our home that remains satisfying to my wife and me. i think its a generational thing.

  16. PhilipSugar

    On the IP telephony if you want simple/cheap. I have been happy with Ooma, comparing it to Onsip is like apples to oranges, but if you want an apple I’ve been happy. I would rather not have land lines but parents really can’t get used to the fact that you just call the cell. Not totally illogical, my Dad doesn’t want to reach me unless I’m at home. He feels he is bothering me if I’m traveling.For some reason Panasonic has always been the most reliable on phones. All the way from key systems to these.

  17. Iz

    Fred – my experience with Panasonic cordless phones has bee the rechargeable batteries stop holding a charge and need to be replaced very quickly (within a year). Can you keep us updated with your experiences with these phones?

    1. fredwilson


  18. Techman

    Hmm…I have never tried a VoIP phones. I’ll try it one day, though. It is a said thing that now landline companies are loosing their business to cheap internet competitors.

    1. Taylor Morris

      Analog lines still dominate in the enterprise market. Households and small businesses with a couple users can get away with using a cheap, hosted VoIP system, but most large businesses can’t. They will eventually move to VoIP, but they won’t go to the low cost providers.

    2. Taylor Morris

      Analog lines still dominate in the enterprise market. Households and small businesses with a couple users can get away with using a cheap, hosted VoIP system, but most large businesses can’t. They will eventually move to VOIP, not to the low cost providers.

      1. Techman

        You’re right, big businesses need something that’s scale able and reliable.

  19. Techman

    @fredwilson:disqus This is a bit off topic with this post, but wanted to point this out to you anyways.The two pages below has a MASSIVE amount of spam, and it has to do with comments and the comment policy. both use the traditional TypePad comment system.

    1. William Mougayar

      This appears to be pre-Disqus for sure.

      1. Techman

        The text is so bunched together and the choice of font is horrible. All bold I believe. I would never try commenting using that.Also funny, I saw yours and Fred’s reply to this comment in real time. Amazing, isn’t it?

    2. fredwilson

      That’s when I was on typepads comment systemThey had no anti spam features

      1. Techman

        I can see that. I hope you clean that up. That and put Disqus there 🙂

  20. Graham Robinson

    I want to install a VoIP box at home for a second line for business purposes. Sound quality is the key factor; don’t need voicemail or any other such features. Cost isn’t an issue. Any recommendations on services?

    1. fredwilson

      do you have a voip service provider?

  21. Mark

    Fred – How do you find OnSIP at home? We’ve had them in our office for the last 18 months or so and have been very happy with them. I was considering using OnSIP in our next house (when we move sometime in the next 9 months or so) but was wondering how it was using basically a business service at home. Did you set up a different extension on each handset? Do they all forward to a general voicemail box if there’s no answer? I suppose if there’s no answer you could have a menu pick up with voicemail box options. Also, what if, say, you’re is talking to one of your kids on the phone and your wife wants to pick up on another handset and listen in – can’t be done on VOIP, can it?

    1. fredwilson

      We like it. Haven’t run into any of those use cases

  22. Quintin Adamis

    These days, I’m curious why there aren’t many services similar to the free call/text apps on iOS. Years ago, maybe 2001.. I remember the speculation that landlines would be phased out as cellphones gained more market penetration. Of course back then, most phones didn’t even have a color lcd screen yet.Today since most people, in the US and many parts of the world, have internet access.. it would be simple to create a mini cpu that has a limited OS which basically runs an app that taps the existing internet connection. Or better yet, just an app to put on your laptop which taps the internet connection and forwards the calls to small handsets. Pricing of minutes on iOS apps are already between $2-10 for about 200-500 minutes of talk time. texts both MMS and SMS are free. Similar apps have been created, but almost all of them require that everyone have an existing phone number. Going about it the other was would just be a relay between the app on the phone/computer. Something like that would also be great for enterprise and costs can still be lowered further when it comes to mobile service, same way that FREE did so in France recently..which forced competitors to drop monthly service prices.

  23. fredwilson

    Yes. No difference to landline unless we have issues with our internet

  24. kenberger

    actually it’s way *better* (much greater frequency response range) if the other person on the line is using a good IP phone such as at an office, incredibly better (HDVoice) if the other person uses OnSIP too (or another HDV provider). Not so great if anyone on the call is on a cell phone, which sadly happens more and more.

  25. Techman

    Well cell phone call quality depends on the phone and carrier and your area. My cell phone has excellent quality for my needs.

  26. Dave Pinsen

    What do you use for your Internet?

  27. fredwilson

    Time Warner Cable wideband, 50MB down, 10MB up, is our main connection but we also have a Verizon DSL circuit which is 1MB that we dedicate to VOIP most of the time and also use as a backup when TWC goes down

  28. Techman

    Fred, do you mind telling about how much you paid to get 50 mbit internet?Wow, I didn’t think Verizon DSL would be THAT slow. Wow. Have you heard of Verizon FiOS?

  29. Taylor Morris

    I’m curious – how do you manage the DSL connection and dedicate it to VOIP most of the time? Do you have QOS controls on your router?

  30. fredwilson

    Something like 100/month

  31. Techman

    Wow that is expensive.

  32. fredwilson

    its hard wired to a different network

  33. charlie

    I think he can afford it.