Thursday, October 22, 2015

Product review: IPC Telephone Call Blocker

The good news is that device really does work and solves a much needed problem. However the interface is so non-intuitive that my mother, for example, is not able to use it. The feedback generates weird long numbers which she finds confusing. I will describe the interface and the issue with the caller id so you can decide if the draw backs out weight the ability to deal with the annoying marketing calls.

I saw two main issues. First that if you hook this device to the phone that has Caller ID capability you will lose the caller id display on that phone. To solve this problem I dedicate a separate phone to this device. This phone is not used for calls just for blocking. The caller id is shown on other phones, just not the one hooked to the blocking unit.

The second issue has to do with the user interface and the feedback displayed on the screen.

When the number is blocked, there is no clear indication that it happened. It just displays a long string of numbers (not the phone number). When I press various buttons, for example, blacklist to see which numbers were blacklisted it shows another long sequence of numbers (some diagnostic information?) when my list is empty, and includes these long strings after the blocked numbers if my list is not empty. The last time I blocked the number and it was saved to the blacklist the confirmation that the number has been saved is the display as a number '2012'. Very strange design!

The manual (which is written in broken English and is hard to understand) does mention that when you press various button the screen displays '1234567' as a confirmation but does not explain the long number sequences. This appliance has the most unfriendly user interface I have ever encountered.

During the initial set up to set the time you need to hit "set" on the unit, then pick up the phone and dial "1" (the phone will give an error that it is an invalid number, but the blocking unit will enter time setting mode). Once it is in the setting mode you need to press set button to change value, but the values you see are not sequential they appear what seems to be in a random order. To to set the time to 10:12 pm I had to see random numbers for the year, month, day, hours and minutes. I just had to keep pressing up or down button until I saw the number I wanted and then had to press "set" and it advanced to the next number. I managed to set the year, month, date and time. However, it displayed the wrong day of the week and I was not able to correct it. On Sunday it displays Thursday.

IPC documentation states that the unit can block 1500 numbers. This number is actually comprised of 1000 individual numbers and 500 other number achieved by blocking set of prefixes, which are too general for my personal use.

On the positive side, the blocking does work. I have called my home number on my cell phone and was able to successfully block it, observe it being disconnected when I called, and then I was able to remove the blocked number from the list. When I block a real telemarketer and they call again I hear one ring and then the call is disconnected.

There are two ways to block calls. One is to push Blacklist button as the marking call is coming in another one is to enter the phone number by hand and save it. The number displayed on the unit does not show the caller id, so it is not easy to identify a marking call without picking up the phone or looking at another phone which shows the caller id.

I have been using IPC for a couple of weeks. Now when I get a marking call I am not annoyed, I think "Gotcha!" and block it.

This call blocking device is provided by IPC for testing and review. If you can deal with the bizarre user interface the unit does work and not only blocks the calls but makes me feel more empowered that I have a way to fight back the annoying marketing calls.

You can find it on Amazon by following this link.

Ali Julia review ★★★☆☆

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