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TrueCall review

Seth Barton
26 Feb 2009
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
98
inc VAT

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Specifications

Though Caller Display and the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) have done a lot to help reduce the annoyance of cold-calling, many people are still plagued with sales calls, automated calls and even nuisance calls.

TrueCall acts as a gateway to your phone. You connect it in between your current handset and the telephone socket. It's designed to let through only the calls you want, while rejecting those you don't. It uses around 1W when in use, so it won't push up your electricity bills.

TrueCall works best if Caller Display is activated on your line. This service is now free on BT lines through its BT Privacy at Home scheme, though it costs up to £2 per month from other providers. The device will build up a list of recognised numbers. The easiest way to add new numbers to this list is by pressing the star button after dialling a number. Recognised numbers ring straight through, as usual. It screens any unrecognised calls using a variety of features, which you can pick-and-mix between.

Unrecognised calls are answered, without your phone ever ringing, and callers are asked to leave a short message. It then puts them on holds and rings the phone to deliver the message. You can then choose whether to reject or accept the call. The idea of putting call center staff on hold particularly delighted us.

The Shield feature is simpler, and asks callers to press the Five button if they are family or friends, this should deter all but the most determined of salespeople and will block automated calls, too. You can set TrueCall to reject all unrecognised calls or even set a PIN that must be entered by callers, although the latter would probably be a last resort for those receiving malicious calls.

Call-management features are available via the internet control panel. This is free for the first year, and £15 per year after that. You can see a complete call history log, edit your preferred numbers and adjust your settings. Its database is updated directly from your TrueCall unit. Just hold down the middle button and it makes a short call to the TrueCall server and synchronises all your data using its built-in modem. Alternatively, you can schedule automatic updates once per week.

TrueCall has a built-in digital answering machine that can store up to 30 messages, or 15 minutes of recordings. It will keep details of missed calls, even if the caller left no message. The answer machine will even work with network voicemail systems, such as BT's 1571, and will automatically check for messages left while you were on the phone and inform you of them. For an extra £24 you can buy the Call Recorder pack. This includes a memory card reader, 1GB SD card (enough space to hold 70 hours of messages), plus easy-to-use software to manage your recordings.

If you find your home phone more of an annoyance than a benefit, then TrueCall is for you. It's not cheap compared to simply using a Caller Display handset, but its excellent features do so much more. It's easy to set up and gives you a great deal of control over who makes your phone ring, and who you speak to. Best of all, it doesn't get in the way of people you know, such friends or family - unless you want it to.

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