The ClassCo InTouch 5000 Talking Caller Id box with Internet Call Waiting extends the world of accessible, yet affordable, blind-friendly technology into the modern day realms of telephone caller Id boxes.
Now, you need not see well just to know who’s ringing you before answering the call. As each call arrives, just after the first ring, this box announces in a clear, male voice, the originating telephone number of the incoming call. You can also assign a category to often received phone numbers, and the unit then announces that category when a caller at that number calls you again.
Note that this unit, unlike the VoiceAnnounce 9900CW, also by ClassCo, does not allow you to record incoming callers’ names in your own voice. Instead, this InTouch 5000 provides pre-recorded “category” names that you can associate with each incoming phone number.
Requires that you subscribe to caller Id service from your local telephone company.
Benefits, Features, Pros, and Advantages
Quick installation. You make three connections. 1) Plug the power cord into a 110-volt AC outlet. 2) Plug the other end of that cord into the ClassCo InTouch 5000 unit. 3) Unplug the phone line from your phone. 4) Plug that same line into the LINE connector on the ClassCo. 5) Plug one end of the supplied phone cord into your phone. 6) Plug the other end of that cable into the PHONE connector on this caller Id box. 7) If you still subscribe to dialup Internet, plug the phone cord from your modem into the Modem port on the InTouch 5000.
Speaks number or category of incoming caller. The built-in speaker is loud enough to fill a large room. You regulate the three-position volume setting through the menus. Since announcements occur automatically as each call arrives, you need not rush to the box to see who’s calling.
No additional setup needed for basic call announcing. If you’ve made the connections as described above, you’re set to go, to hear the telephone numbers of incoming callers announced as new calls come in, unless you’ve previously associated specific numbers with categories. If you have, then the InTouch 5000 just announces the category, and omits reading the originating number. Note that this box only announces if your land line is subscribed to your telephone company’s caller Id service.
Internet call waiting. The InTouch 5000 offers a third telephone port, for your computer modem (for those of you still using dialup based Internet Service Providers). Should a call come in while you’re online, you may answer it, as long as you only talk for less than ten seconds. Or, you can direct this box to play a pre-recorded message to the caller, informing them that you’re online and will call them back shortly.
Pre-recorded category names. For each of up to 99 telephone numbers, you can associate one of the built-in categories (Family, Friends, Work, School, Don’t Answer, It’s for You (female and male voices), and a dog barking. Then, when he or she calls you, the category name you previously associated with that number is played back, instead of the VoiceAnnounce male voice that reads the telephone number digits. The machine has enough memory for up to 99 of these number associations.
Recent calls list. This box remembers the last 99 incoming unique telephone numbers. You can scroll through this list, and the unit reads the numbers or your associated categories back. Once this list becomes full, old call records are automatically deleted as new calls come in (first in, firs out). The unit also condenses numbers in the list. E.g. If a caller from the same number calls you five times, this does NOT take up five entries in the call log. Only one entry in the list is made for each unique caller, no matter how many times they call. Just the date and time in that entry are updated with each new call from them.
Remembers your settings and category associations. Non volatile flash memory. The unit does not forget your category assignments and customized settings during power failures. Even if you disconnect it from the phone line, these values are retained.
Visual display. The caller Id information, in addition to being voiced, is also displayed on a fair-sized LCD screen. As each call arrives, the screen displays the date and time of the call, the originating telephone number, and the name of the person calling.
Red call light. Located at the top right corner of the box, this lamp blinks to alert you that new calls have come un since you last reviewed the call log, or that a new voice mail has arrived. For the message-waiting indication, your line must have a voice mail box, and the phone company must either stutter the dial tone to indicate new voicemail, or sent an FSK data new voicemail record, in order for the InTouch 5000 to know that you have new voicemail.
Manual telephone number entry supported. If you want to associate a number not listed in the call log with one of the pre-defined categories, you can enter the number manually using the keys on the unit. This process, since there are no digit keys, can be torturous. But this is not likely something that you’ll do very often. Once done, it’s done for good, until you erase or redo your manual category associations.
Message waiting notification. This light blinks in a different way, to let you know that you have new voicemail that you’ve not yet heard. Again, your telephone service provider must send the expected data to your line when new voicemail arrives in order for this feature to function.
Call back / dial back feature. You can command the unit to call back any number in the call log, just by locating it in the list, and pressing a button.
Works with call waiting. The call waiting caller Id feature even tells you who’s calling when you’re on your phone, and another call beeps in.
Power requirements. Comes with an AC 9 volt, 300 MA adaptor. It’s the ClassCo model number AX09V300A, Direct Plug-in Class 2 Transformer. Note that though this adapter looks very much like the one for ClassCo’s 9900CW box, they are not interchangeable. So if you have both models in your home, don’t get the adapters mixed up.
Minimal key compliment. This caller Id box can be completely operated by the five keys on its face. These include: Program / Busy, Mode / Dial, Clear, Rew, and Fwd. As mentioned, entering numbers can take a bit of time, but goes pretty quickly once you learn how to do it.
Retractable integrated stand. Foldable legs on back, when extended, angle the display up and toward the viewer for clearer reading.
Inexpensive. Typically costs around $30; cheap enough that you can place them throughout your home, for house wide caller Id announcements.
Cons, Disadvantages, Problems, and Limitations
Sensitive to phone line surges and spikes. We’ve seen a couple of these boxes destroyed by nearby thunderstorms. After the storm passed, the box either began behaving erratically, or it stopped working altogether. We propose that ClassCo incorporate better lightning and voltage surge protection into subsequent versions of this box.
No backlight on LCD display. This can make reading the display difficult, and require repositioning the box in existing light, to get the right angle for maximum contrast.
For land line use only. Does not read incoming caller Id data for a cell phone.
No personalized outgoing messages. You can not record short outgoing messages, and assign each one to specific incoming phone numbers as you can in the VoiceAnnounce 9900CW.
Only announces when caller Id information is sent. The unit can only tell you who’s calling, if it receives the necessary caller Id data from your phone company, through the telephone line. When there is no caller Id record / packet sent, the unit says nothing. No way around that we see. So this is really not a shortcoming of this box.
Does not read the name portion of the caller id record. Some cordless phones, like the Panasonic KX-TG6423T at least ATTEMPT to pronounce the words found in the name field of the caller Id record on phone lines with the Caller Id Name service. However, the InTouch 5000, while it displays the name on the LCD screen, does not speak it.
Difficult to find. As of September, 2015, we’ve not been able to find many copies of the InTouch 5000 talking caller Id box locally or online. ClassCo may have discontinued it, although it still appears on their web site.
This ClassCo InTouch 5000 caller Id box is a real time and effort saver for those who do not see well, alerting them to who is calling in audio format. We’ve owned a few of these boxes over the past decade, and have replaced a couple when they failed. We like them THAT much. They’re cheap to purchase, although we’ve not seen them sold in local stores; had to buy from Amazon and eBay. However, this minor inconvenience is infinitesimal next to the gains offered by this VoiceAnnounce accessibility technology. Knowing who’s calling without having to put down the wet dish rag to find out, is really helpful. While the InTouch 5000 lacks the customized voice recordings feature found in the VoiceAnnounce 9900CW, the pre recorded categories found here serve as a suitable substitute. So we’d rate this device at 91 out of 100.
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- 2015-09-11: Originally published.