on 11 July 2009
After suffering delays with delivery, due to a postal strike (Nothing to do with the retailer), I was biting at the teeth to get this unit into service.
When you first open the box, you might be surprised by how small this unit is. I was able to fit the unit, easily, on the palm of my hand.
Set up was a doddle! Plug your phone into the unit, the unit into the phone line and your are on your way!! A word of caution here though. This unit isolates one socket. If you have more than one phone, it works best with a wireless set up, where the base station is connected to the unit and then the unit to the phone line. If you have separate phones on each extension, then the unit will need the purchase of an extender for each extension (Cheaper to go buy a new quad wireless handset system, than buy multiple extender units).
Whilst there is a caution with the unit in relation to working with pendant alarms, I use a lifeline service with this unit without a problem. Using a phone doubler, I was able to allow that service to work normally, whilst still controlling all incoming calls to the main phone. I suppose it would work equally well, by plugging the lifeline service into one of the extensions.
Within a minute of connection (If done before 11pm at night, otherwise you need to do this through the setup menus), the phone calls you!!! What a simple but innovative idea!! You are then prompted to record a message to all callers (i,e Hi, you are connected to the xxxxxx household).
You are then prompted to record a second message asking the caller to leave their name. (The unit will disconnect from people who refuse to leave their name, when this feature is utilised).
That's it, you are ready to go!!!! The unit comes with a set of preconfigured settings to that allow to get going straight away. The thing I REALLY like about this unit is that it is 100% intuitive, very configurable and so very easy to use. The unit only has one (Multi function) button. The built answer phone and in call screening speakers were added benefits that really does put this unit miles ahead of the competition. If you pay for BT's Choose to Refuse, Call Minder and Anonymous Caller Reject services, this system could pay for itself in under a year.
That said, the price is not cheap. Purchased directly from the company, this comes in a little under £100!!. Amazon are offering a better price but not sure that you get all the whistles with their offering, such as 1 yrs FREE web link access, which I have already found to be invaluable as well as the FREE, and very professional, customer support
There are 4 separate booklets included with the phone. A quick start guide, a reference guide, for the setting etc, the web link control panel guide and the manual itself. However, the unit walks you through every action. I didn't check the reference guide, or the manual itself until the unit was up and going. All the set up information was included in the quick start guide.
The reference guide simply makes going through the options a little faster, since it gives you the codes you need to enter (All basic commands are managed through a phone, a further advanced set, are managed through a web link to the Truecall site. The unit and site can be synchronised either manually, as and when desired, or on a configurable schedule. The default is set to a 1 week. This is done through a call to the company, using a national rate phone number and is a secure connection.
How do you use the unit?
In its preconfigured state when a call is received, the caller is asked to leave their name. The unit then puts the caller on hold and calls the actual phone. The recipient then has several options. Either accept the call, send the call to voice mail, "star" the call, which places the user on a white list so they are not challenged again in the future, or "Zap" the call. This puts the caller on a blacklist, and doesn't bother you with calls from that number again in the future. The Star and Zap options can also be used during the call. So, if you decide to take the call, then realise it is a nuisance caller, all you need do is press the # button to terminate the call and block the caller from getting through to you again.
Up until the caller leaves their name, you, the recipient, don't get disturbed. All this is handled by the unit itself. Your phone only rings when the person has provided the name and, if set up, pressed a button on their phone to confirm that they are not an automated service.
There are options to manually enter zap and star numbers, either via the unit, following a series of menus from your handset, or via the weblink services, which also provides access to the advance feature settings. In reality, it is probably easier to let your callers drive this process. This is a longer process both for you and for the first call the callers make after the unit is installed. After the first challenge, if approved, they will get straight through in future calls. This prevents the possibility of adding an incorrect number to the menu. I chose the manual system and entered over 100 numbers (The unit can hold up to 1000 numbers, either zapped or starred). By the end of the process, 3 of the numbers were entered incorrectly, though easily removed through the weblink service. It took me most of the evening to do the whole lot, and is definitely easier with someone reading the numbers out as you tap them in. With hindsight, I should have let the database build itself as new callers were intercepted.
The weblink service is free for the first year. Support is also free and is provided via email and or telephone. I used it a couple of times, with regard to the advanced features, and found the support to be of a very high quality and also very professional.
Because of the postal strike, I actually went to collect my unit, since I lived near to the dispatch centre. As a result, I also met the inventor, which was an added bonus. He explained that his aim was to create a unit that his mother could use. I am pretty sure he fulfilled his objective in this regard.
One of the reasons I got this unit was to filter out telemarketers, who regularly withhold their number, or call from abroad, so are not caught by BT anonymous caller reject, whilst allowing others, such as the police, hospitals, GP's and other government agencies (That I did want to speak to) through. This does a much better job than the equivalent BT Service of Anonymous Caller Reject, which blocks everything with a witheld number, but let's through international callers. Truecall has the capacity to blocks all and still allow those essential callers access to you.
Another feature which I like is the call sheild. This is an option to ask the caller to press a number, before being put through. I used to get faxes calling me during the middle of the night (when calling is cheaper and the lines are more readily accessible). This stopped that problem in its tracks on day one!! Believe you me, when you have had a disturbed sleep, for as long as I have, it seems surreal to be able to sleep the whole night through without being disturbed by a fax call.
Like all things in life, there are a couple of pros and cons.....
Very easy to use
Great customer service
Built in answer phone.
Lots of different configurations possible
Works with Voice Over Internet Protocol, such as BT Broadband Talk Service.
Works in conjunction with a Broadband Line, giving you access to a second line.
Full call logging history, via web link service
100% successful (At least in my case) at blocking the calls you do not want, whilst letting through the calls you do want.
Actually saves money with time, since you don't need the raft of subscription services offered by your phone provider that this unit provides. (Choose to Refuse, Anonymous Caller Reject, Call Minder & Incoming Call barring Services)
Very economical. Power output is <1 watt.
Free Professional Customer Service
Web site allows you to view call history and configure units advanced features.
Web site allows you to add the contact details to the number (I.e name) and also submit complaints regarding nuisance callers for further action.
Removes the need for subscription services from your telephone provider, such as anonymous caller reject and Choose to Refuse, thereby saving money in the long term.
Allows you to record none, some, or all of your conversations to substantiate harassment complaints with law enforcement agencies (Through an SD Memory card which can be purchased separately)
In order to work effectively, all phones need to be routed through the unit. If you have multiple phones, this means you either need a wireless system that can routed through to a base station, or you need to buy extenders for the other extensions, which could prove less cost effective.
If you have call waiting, the waiting call is cannot be diverted to the answer phone, so you need to keep a record of who called during the call you are on or remove call waiting from the line. The consequence of that is that the other call could be repeatedly trying to get through unsuccessfully and you wouldn't know about it. At least having call waiting active will alert you to that fact.
To be as operate optimally, there is a need to use the Web Link service, which utilises a national rate phone number and will be chargeable after the first year (Price unknown). It will work without this option but the features are significantly reduced. There is limited access to call history for example.