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On average, only 24% of what you donate as a result of a telemarketing call will actually get to the charity on whose behalf the solicitation is made. The telemarketing company hired to make the call gets the rest.

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Screen Machine from Spectrum Research
Review | FAQ

Our Review

PLEASE NOTE: This product has been discontinued due to high failure rates and customer dissatisfaction.

The Screen Machine is very easy to connect. Simply disconnect the phone line from your telephone and connect it to the Screen Machine at the "Line In" connection. Then, use the provided cord to connect your phone to the connection marked "To Phone Connection or Answering Machine." A power cord and transformer are provided; technical support is available through the manufacturers toll-free number.

The printed instructions are very clear, outlining and diagramming the various functions and options of the Screen Machine without making it seem complex or technical.

After you connect the cords, the Screen Machine stands upright on a fairly small footpad, with the connections and switches neatly hidden behind the unit.

The "In Use" light, which flashes when the Screen Machine is in action, is clearly visible at the front of the device. The "Power" light, also on the front of the unit, indicates the unit is plugged in and activated. A switch on the back of the Screen Machine activates and deactivates the unit. On the back is one other switch with three options: the "Record Message" is used to record over the provided message with your own message; set the switch either to "Screen" or "Screen with Your Caller ID," , depending on whether or not you have phone-company Caller ID.

Once connected and activated, the Screen Machine works in the background, requiring no further action to screen all incoming calls.

Once an incoming call activates the Screen Machine, you'll hear a quick chirp or a single ring on the phone connected to it. The first thing the caller hears is two subtle tones, followed by a legally correct message informing the caller that telemarketing calls are not accepted. Telemarketers are instructed to place this number on their "Do Not Call" list, warned that calling again would be a violation of Federal Law, and told that if the call is private in nature, to press '5' to ring through.

If the caller presses '5,' the phone connected to the Screen Machine will ring. If you don't answer the phone after it rings, your answering machine will simply pick up the call as if it were a normal incoming call.

Another nifty feature of the Screen Machine is its ability to work as a "multi-line system" for households of more than one person. Incoming callers can select the number corresponding to the person they which to reach, pressing '4' for you, '5' for your significant other, and '6' for your kids. Each number has its own distinctive ring, so you can easily hear for whom the call is intended.

When you record your unique outgoing message, just let your callers know which number to press for each person. After people call a few times, they'll automatically know which number to press, so they can bypass the outgoing message altogether. The manufacturers have included several message scripts, making it very simple to record the message you need.

Like every other call-screening device on the market, to effectively screen each telephone number that you own, you will need a Screen Machine for every telephone line in your home or office. Remember, the only phone that will ring when the caller presses the appropriate code is the telephone connected to the Screen Machine.

If you want broader ring coverage, you must purchase optional "Ring Extenders" for about $10 each. Just plug the ring extender in between an extension phone and the wall phone jack. It will detect when the Screen Machine is ringing your main phone, and will generate a ring sound near the extension phone.

If you have a phone-company voicemail system, you can still use the Screen Machine. However, since voicemail services are located in the offices of your phone company, the Screen Machine cannot send a call back to voicemail. When you want your voicemail to answer calls, you must turn the Screen Machine "Power" switch to the "Off" position.

Given our experience with the Screen Machine, you could easily get along without the monthly charges you incur with Caller ID and Call Screening, both of which are unnecessary with this device. We would even recommend using an answering machine as opposed to telephone-company provided services, both to save monthly fees and to allow your Screen Machine to work full time to eliminate unwanted calls.

In summary, the Screen Machine is designed for those who want to take control over all of their incoming calls and receive the additional benefit of distinctive ring tones, but it is designed to be most effective when used in conjunction with a telephone answering device, as opposed to contracted voicemail services from others. We were also disappointed by the fixed codes of '4,' '5,' or '6,' and that you must announce the codes on your outgoing message. It has also proven to not be able to ring some common phones.

Customer Testimonials

"Everyone wants to know where we got [our Screen Machine] and how they can get one of their own. It is amazing how peaceful our lives have become without the aggravation of phone solicitations. It is totally amazing: We have not had a single one since installing the Screen Machine!" James & Diane, Sarasota FL

...Your product has been 100% successful in stopping those d*** sales Calls! Thank you, thank you." J. Jewel, Indiana

"....We gladly answer our phone, whenever it rings. No more first walking over to our answering machine to see who is calling". G. Ginny, Colorado

"With elderly parents that we closely monitor, we really appreciate the special ring feature they use when calling us." G. Miller, Pennsylvania

"...No more slammed telephones, no more growled muttering, no fuming complaints. There is a noticeably calmer attitude around here lately." J. Buchan, Ohio

"....I'm really enjoying my new found freedom from evening sales call disruptions since purchasing your fine product. " W. Berry, Michigan

"....Teen age friends of our children, all use the '6' button. That way, if they are not at home, we don't have to answer. When they are home, it is like they had their own private phone." M. Schreyer, Indiana

"I just got your Screen Machine and I love it. My Vet's secretary wants one and a neighbor also wants one. So far everyone that's called thinks it is great and wants to know how to get one...." Jim P., Oceanside, CA

"I dislike getting calls from telemarketers, period, but I really dislike getting them during the dinner hour. I wanted a device where I wouldn't have to hear the phone ringing or talk with these people at all. Since I purchased the Screen Machine I have not had to answer one call from a telemarketer. Now when the phone rings, I know it's safe to answer it." Suzanne F., Sparks, NV

"YOUR COMPANY IS WONDERFUL!!!! I ordered the Screen Machine on July 24th. By the afternoon of July 26th, I had the machine up and running. I have already noticed a sharp decrease in the calls coming through. My life is so much more peaceful thanks to you. Thank you for everything!!! I will be recommending you to everyone! " Christine S., Medina, OH

"I received my order today it is up and working. I use it in conjuction with my TeleZapper. They work very well. Thanks for fast delivery." Pat V, Streamwood, IL

"I ordered the Screen Machine on 08/12/02 and received it on 08/19/02. I consider that excellent delivery time. It was very easy to install and I had the Screen Machine up and running in ten minutes. Since that time, our house has been very peaceful. No more telemarketers. Our friends and relatives have no complaints of difficulties reaching us. We are VERY pleased with your product and thank you for giving us a rest from obnoxious phone calls. The Screen Machine is an EXCELLENT product and does what your Company says it would do." Harrel W, North Highlands, CA

"When I reached the end of my rope with intrusive telemarketers and solicitors I set out to invent a box that would intercept each call before my phone even rings to ward off those bothersome telemarketers. I didn't get very far into the development of my invention when I accidentally stumbled across the Screen Machine.

"This product does everything that my brainchild was going to do; and much more. Since I purchased it and installed it into my home's main telephone line, ALL calls from telemarketers, solicitors, charities, and any other undesirable sources have stopped. Totally STOPPED! I don't usually write testimonials about anything, but in this case I just had to. This is one of the best products I have ever purchased and it works perfectly. The price is extremely reasonable considering that the phone company offers a similar, yet inferior, service for a reoccurring monthly fee. In that respect, the Screen Machine has already paid for itself. I'd much rather see this product's inventor receive my money than an institution that is already overcharging consumers. I highly recommend this product to anyone who has ever been bothered by unwanted telemarketer calls and wants them to stop; in other words, EVERYONE!" James M, South Plainfield, NJ

"Last month, telemarketers were waking me up every morning, often those who only spoke Spanish and didn't understand the phrase "do-not-call list". My answering machine was full of pre-recorded advertisements for fraudulent financial schemes. So I installed a Screen Machine and haven't had a single junk call since. It gives me some sadistic pleasure to hear the occasional quiet click indicating that a telemarketer is being stopped." Paul G, Pasadena, CA

"This product is a dream come true! Since I began using the Screen Machine, I have not taken a single unwanted phone call. If you are fed up with the hang ups, messages on your answering machine and annoying salespepople, this is the last product you will ever need." Norman M, San Diego, CA

"I have has this item for two weeks now and I love it!!!! NOT ONE single telemarketing call. It works great, just like advertised. Great product." Chris E, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ

We would love to hear from you if you have used one of our products!

CLICK HERE to fill out our product feedback form.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How complicated is the installation process?

The unit plugs into a normal phone system using phone jacks. Simply take the phone jack which was plugged into your phone, and plug it into the Screen Machine. Then take the line that comes with the Screen Machine and connect it to your telephone. Plug in the Power Unit to the nearest electric outlet, and turn it on !!

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How long does it take to install?

Less than 5 minutes.

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Will it work with Caller ID?

Yes. It works in conjuction with Caller ID, if you want, so that you can be assured that the person causing your phone to ring is indeed an invited caller and is someone you want to talk to .

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Will it work with my answering machine?

Yes. Connect your answering machine to the PHONE IN side of the FILTER and set your machine so that the number of ring signals it receives before your "not at home" message starts is less than 8.

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How long must a caller wait before they depress a key to ring through?

Immediate access can be gained at any time during the message.

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Can I record my own voice?

Yes, a 20 second message can be used to record over the programmed message. We have even included a list of suggested scripts for you to easily create your own legally binding message.

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What connections are required?

The Screen Machine comes with a power cord and telephone cable, and that is all that is needed. The power cord plugs into your electrical outlet and the Screen Machine. The cable is used to connect your phone outlet to the Screen Machine.

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Will the Screen Machine work with fax machines?

The Screen Machine can not only be used in conjunction with a fax machine, but will also help to eliminate junk faxes. Fax callers will need to enter '5' to get through. This will prevent most computer-broadcasted faxes to fail. Be sure to tell your invited fax callers to add the additional number.

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Will it work with Voice Mail, Privacy Manager, and other phone company packages?

The Screen Machine is best used with a telephone answering device located on the premises. The Screen Machine does its screening process prior to the telephone company voice mail activation. If you are not able to attend the phone and wish to use the telephone company voice mail product, you should turn the Screen Machine off. The Screen Machine would then not interfere with the normal operation of telephone company voice mail. As a general rule, the Screen Machine will work with most of the packages offered. Feel free to contact us with questions about how the Screen MachineT will work with your particular package.

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How does the Screen Machine eliminate computer-generated telemarketing calls?

The computer dialer obviously will not hear the Screen Machine's recorded message. However, when a computer dialer hears a recorded-- rather than a human - voice, it will simply hang up. The computer will not know to remove your name from the list, but it will most likely do so after a number of unsuccessful attempts.

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How do I know that unwanted callers won't just press '5' to ring through?

If the call comes from a human telemarketer - and even computer-dialed calls switch over to a human telemarketer while your phone is still ringing - the human telemarketer will do one of two things: either hang up immediately, thinking it's connected to an answering machine, or listen long enough to the message to hear the Screen Machine's "remove me from your list" demand. Once they hear that instruction, they WILL NOT dial through. The first thing every telemarketer is taught is not to EVER disturb a caller who has requested not to be called; there are large fines involved for both the individual telemarketer and their employing company. In fact, a telemarketer who did so would take the risk of being fired outright.

If you think of telemarketing as big business (which it is!), a telemarketing company only makes money from customers who purchase something. Attempting to speak with someone who clearly is not inclined to buy is a fruitless waste of time... and time, in business, is money.

Finally, telemarketers - believe it or not - are people just like you and me. Their preference would not be to speak with people who do not want to speak with them. They endure enough frustration during the course of each day without deliberately disturbing someone who has specifically asked not to be contacted!

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Is there a warranty on the Screen Machine?

Yes. The Screen Machine is warranted to be free from defects in material and workmanship for a period of 1 year.

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