When you think about it, Philips is a Bang & Olufsen for the rest of us. It produces great-looking tech products almost anyone can afford. But sometimes the execution is less than the sum of its parts.
Take the Philips ID555. It's a very slim, very stylish DECT phone and answering machine with a high gloss black fascia, a dash of silver and some tasty blue-backlighting that lights up its 5-line LCD display and keypad. It all looks incredibly stylish and sophisticated - a 'bit of posh' your gran might say.
Truthfully the Philips ID555 has a lot going for it too - it has a 200 name-and-number keypad, 30-minute digital answerphone, hands-free speakerphone and all the usual DECT goodies like the ability to add extra base stations, handsets, excellent call quality, yada yada.
It even has some eco credentials: Like the Motorola D1100, the Philips ID555 comes with some clever power management that ensures it uses the minimum amount of power possible when the handset is away from the base station (the closer you get, the less power it uses), and Philips says the whole shebang uses 50 per cent less energy than a conventional DECT phone anyway. All to the good.
The rub comes with its interface: The Philips ID555 has a mono LCD for a kick off, while the on-screen text seems particularly spindly - it's almost as if Philips' designers have deliberately slimmed down the typeface to mirror the phone's sylph-like dimensions.
What you really want - and expect - from Philips though is something with a bit of 'wow' - a cool GUI with some fancy icons or something that match the cool exterior - you know like Apple would do, or what Motorola has (almost) achieved with the D1100.
Instead you get spindly text laid out in a series of uninspiring lists and the omnipresent sight of an hour glass with the word 'waiting' underneath it. Waiting for what? A decent UI?
To be fair, there's nothing Philips is really doing wrong here - its interface is certainly no worse than what you see on most DECT phones: it's basic, functional, it's gets the job done. You just kinda what more, you know?
The physical UI is actually much better: although the keypad keys are quite small and close together, making and taking a call shouldn't be a problem for even the most sausage-fingered. Both the Philips ID555's handset and remote are comfortable to hold and have a reassuringly high quality feel. Making a call also banishes the spindly text momentarily, displaying the number you're calling at a reasonable size.
Don't get us wrong: there really, really is a lot to like about the Philips ID555. But a little UI inspiration would go a very long way indeed.