The ClassCo VoiceAnnounce 9900CW Talking Caller Id box extends the world of accessible, yet affordable, blind-friendly technology into the realms of telephone caller Id boxes.
Now, you don’t have to see well in order to know who’s ringing you before actually answering the call. As each call comes in, just after the first ring, this box announces in a clear, male voice, the originating telephone number of the incoming call. Or, you can record incoming call announcements with your own voice, and associate them with frequently caller numbers.
Note that this unit, unlike the InTouch 5000, allows you to record incoming callers’ names in your own voice, whereas the 5000 does not provide this recording feature. Instead, it 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
Speaks number or name of incoming caller. The built-in speaker is loud enough to fill a large room. The volume can be controlled through the menus. Announcements occur automatically as each call arrives. So you need not rush to the box to see who’s calling.
Installs in minutes. 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 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) Finally, plug the other end of that cable into the PHONE connector on this caller Id box.
No additional setup needed for basic call announcing. If you’ve made the connections as described in the previous bullet, you’re set to go, to hear the telephone numbers of incoming callers announced as new calls come in. Note that this box only announces if your land line is subscribed to your telephone company’s caller Id service.
Recordable caller names. You can record a name such as “Dad,” Mom,” “Virginia,” and then associate that name with the number of the person with that name. Then, when he or she calls you, your recording is played back, instead of the VoiceAnnounce male voice that reads the telephone number digits. The machine has enough memory for up to 50 of these name recordings.
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 recorded names back to you. 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 recordings. Non volatile memory. The unit does not forget your names and assigned numbers during power outages. Even if you disconnect it from the phone line, these values are retained.
Customized outgoing messages. You can also record short outgoing messages, and assign each one to specific incoming phone numbers. Then, should someone call from one of these numbers, the ClassCo answers the call and plays back the message you intended for them.
Visual display. The caller Id information, in addition to being voiced, is also displayed on a fair-sized LCD screen.
Red call light. Located at the top right corner of the box, this lamp blinks a short-on, long-off pattern to let your know that new calls have come un since you last reviewed the call log.
Manual telephone number entry supported. If you want to record a name and associate it with a number that is not present in the call log, you can enter the number manually using the keys on the unit. This process, since there are no digit keys, can be a bit cumbersome. But this is not likely something that you’re gong to need to do very often. Once you do it, it’s done for good, until you erase or redo your manual entries.
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.
Call back / dial back feature. You can have the unit 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 a DC 6 volt, 200 MA adaptor with a negative tip. Model number MA132-060020, Direct Plug-in Class 2 Transformer.
Retractable rear legs. On the rear underside of the unit, there is a foldable stand, that faces the unit forward when sitting upright, for easier viewing.
Minimal key compliment. This box can be completely operated by the five keys on the top. These include: record, mode / dial, clear, rew, and fwd. As mentioned, entering numbers can take a bit of time, but goes pretty quickly once you get the hang of 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.
Name recordings are low in fidelity. The built-in voice recorder appears to record your voice at very low bitrates, so that the resulting recording can be difficult to understand, as it contains little high-end or treble frequencies.
For land line use only. Does not read incoming caller Id data for a cell phone.
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.
Difficult to find. As of September, 2015, we’ve not been able to find many copies of this caller Id box locally or online. ClassCo may have discontinued it, although their website still displays it.
No battery backup option. Though this ClassCo model contains non volatile flash memory for retaining settings and call log, it will not speak during power outages. Other models have batteries.
This ClassCo 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 five years, and have replaced a couple when they failed. We like them THAT much. They’re cheap to buy, although we’ve not seen them sold in local stores; had to buy ours from Amazon, on the Internet. 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 see, is really helpful. So we’d rate this device at 93 out of 100.
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- 2015-12-17: Added appropriate tags.
- 2015-09-17: Added “No battery backup option” drawback.
- 2015-09-11: Updated content, added Suggested Reading section.
- 2015-09-07: Added more appropriate tags, and updated content to reflect the lack of availability of this product currently.
- 2015-01-21: Originally published.