SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box Review




The SBC VoiceAnnounce 9900CW Talking Caller Id box extends the world of accessible, yet affordable, blind-friendly technology into the realms of telephone caller Id boxes.



With this one, you seeing well is unnecessary in order to know who’s ringing you before actually picking up the call. As each call comes in, just after the first ring, the SBC 9900CW 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.

Picture of the front of the SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box.
SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, front view.

Note that this unit, unlike the ClassCo InTouch 5000, allows you to record incoming callers’ names in your own voice.  But this SBC version provides a built-in microphone for recording caller names as well as outgoing messages.  Battery backup powers this unit during blackouts, and even when the four AA batteries are dead, the SBC 99 00CW still remembers your settings and call log.

Also note that though the SBC 9900CW shares the same model number as the ClassCo VoiceAnnounce 9900CW, they’re not exactly the same, even though from the top, they look the same.  The one dubbed ClassCo offers no battery backup.  Nor is there an ANS MACHINE telephone phone.  The SBC version however, offers both of these.  Other than that, the two units function pretty much the same, as described below. Also, the power adapters deliver different voltages.  So they are not interchangeable.



Requires that you subscribe to caller Id service from your local telephone company.

Picture of the SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, bottom view.
SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, bottom view.

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 three position volume can be controlled through the menus. Announcements occur automatically as each call comes in. So you need not rush to the box to see who’s calling, as long as you’re in earshot of it.

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 this SBC unit. 3) Unplug the phone line from your phone. 4) Plug that same line into the LINE connector on the 9900CW. 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.

Battery backup provided.  The SBC 9900CW accepts four double A (AA) batteries, that operate all unit functions during a power failure.



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. 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 or opt not to install the backup batteries, these values are not erased by power failures.

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 SBC box 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 red 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, although this may not work if someone call from outside your local calling area, and to call them back, a 1 must be dialed first.  The 9900CW dials back the number received in the caller Id record, which often does not include the first 1 digit.

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.

Answering machine port provided.   This SBC 9900CW speaking caller Id features an RJ11 port for your answering machine, as well as the Line and Phone ports; three ports total.

Power requirements. Comes with an AC 9 volt, 300 MA adaptor: the ClassCo Model number AX09V300A Direct Plug-in Class 2 Transformer. Input: 120 V, 6 VA.  Output: 9V AC, 0.3A.  The unit also runs on 6 volts DC, via the four AA battery provision.



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 master doing it.

Inexpensive. Typically costs around $30; cheap enough that you can place multiple SBC 9900CW caller Id boxes throughout your home, for house wide caller Id announcements.

Picture of the SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, top view, showing the 9 volt AC power input port.
SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, top view, showing the 9 volt AC power input port.

Cons, Disadvantages, Problems, and Limitations

Sensitive to phone line surges and spikes. We’ve observed some of these boxes destroyed by nearby lightning strikes. After the storm passed, the box either began behaving erratically, or stopped functioning altogether. We propose that SBC add more effective lightning and voltage surge protection into subsequent revisions of this box.

No backlight on LCD display. This can make reading the caller Id information difficult, and require repositioning the box in existing light, to get the right angle for maximum contrast.

Name recordings sound somewhat muffled. The built-in voice recorder seems to capture your voice at 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 the SBC 9900CW locally or online. The manufacturer may have discontinued it.

Picture of the battery compartment on the SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, showing spaces for four AA cells.
SBC 9900CW Talking Caller Id Box, bottom view, with battery cover removed.

Our Rating

This SBC 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 inexpensive, although we’ve not seen them sold in local stores; bought ours from eBay, on the Internet. However, this minor inconvenience is miniscule 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, and the battery backup is useful too, in spots where normal AC house current is, well, spotty. So we’d rate this device at 95 out of 100.

Suggested Reading

References

Revision History

  • 2015-10-14: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-17: Originally published.