Tech review: Konnekt Videophone

Oct 07, 2016

The Konnekt Videophone is a device that allows seniors and the disabled to communicate with their loved ones remotely through Skype… without all the nonsense. If you’re someone looking to connect with your contacts through video call, but find an iPad too complicated to use, then consider trying Konnekt.

John Nakulski, Konnekt co-founder and marketing director, came all the way from Chelsea to our office in Richmond, Victoria to show us the Konnekt Videophone.

Upon first sight, the product appeared alarmingly bulky, having been neatly packaged into a large cardboard box. On top of that, being warned that it was going to get “loud” made it seem all the more intimidating. However, after giving John the chance to explain, there appears to be a rationale for the loud, large nature of the Konnekt Videophone.

The product is specifically designed for the elderly and the disabled. What this essentially means is that it is extremely simple to use, large enough for those with poor vision and loud enough for those who are hard-of-hearing. In terms of appearance, it’s basically a large monitor that needs to be wired to a powerpoint.

The start-up of the videophone is as fast and basic as you can get — you plug it in, and it takes you straight to your contacts. Your contacts will be displayed to you on a screen of buttons, with each contact on one big button. To call someone, you just press their button on the screen. Simple. Direct. There’s no need to swipe, no need to find the screen, and no other transitions.

In order to accommodate those with bad eyesight, the Konnekt Videophone boasts a 15-inch (38cm) screen, with customisable text size. Furthermore, its speakers can get loud; I mean, really loud. Like hearing-it-from-several-rooms-away loud. This ensures that when you get a call, you can hear it from the other room. It’s also a big help to those with hearing disabilities. For anyone who doesn’t need a videophone blaring across their entire household, though, there are other volume options. But we’ll get to that later.

As for the contacts, you can add anyone — from your children and grandchildren to your cleaner or gardener. Adding in-house contacts will give the user easy access to these services. The only calls you will be able to make are to the contacts added to the videophone. Additionally, the only calls you will be able to receive will exclusively be from these contacts as well.

The Konnekt Videophone will call these contacts through their Skype accounts — thus Skype is the platform through which communication takes place. The difference, however, between this and a regular Skype call is that use on the Konnekt Videophone user’s side is much, much simpler. Furthermore, it can call back-up telephone numbers of a single contact if the first call isn’t answered.

If you want your own Konnekt Videophone, the Konnekt team will personally come to your residence and install it for you. They will also provide internet connection for those who are socially-isolated, not-so-tech-savvy, and hence haven’t set up their own services.

During this set-up, Konnekt will tailor the screen display and sound options to the user and their needs. If you have poor eyesight but are fine in hearing, they’ll set you up with large text, big buttons, and a suitable volume. It’s all up to you and your needs, really. All you need to do is call Konnekt or fill out a form with all your details, and the Konnekt team will customise the device for you. They will also add all of the contacts you wish to have on your videophone.

This is done so that those who find themselves continually struggling with technology will not need to try and work out how to customise these features themselves and sometimes even get it wrong and need it to be fixed. The Konnekt team will set everything up for you.

In addition, if you wish to change something, like adding a new contact or adjusting the volume, the Konnekt team is just a video call away. Amongst your contacts will be a button that says ‘Konnekt’. Whenever you’re looking for technical support, just press the button.

How does a typical call work?

After you press a button to call someone, you’ll be redirected to a screen with very few things: large text that tells you who you’re calling, a timer that counts down the seconds until an unanswered call is ended, and an ‘End Call’ button. All very simple stuff.

A microphone is attached to the side of the screen, which will receive the audio on your side of the call. Once your contact answers the call, you’ll be able to see their face on your screen or just hear their voice (depending on how they choose to answer the call on Skype). When a contact calls you, on the other hand, a screen will pop up telling you who’s calling, with an ‘Answer’ button and a ‘Reject Call’ button.

The cost of the Konnekt Videophone includes a single upfront payment, as well as monthly payments for the service. This monthly payment will be higher for the option to make overseas calls.

All in all, the Konnekt Videophone is a useful device for those who really need it.

Is it for everyone? No, certainly not. That’s because it’s a special needs device, specifically designed to meet those needs.

For many elderly and disabled people, social isolation can really weigh them down. Staying in touch with friends and loved ones is thus essential in maintaining a healthy, fulfilling life. In such a case, the Konnekt Videophone is a good alternative to iPads, smartphones, and any other device that is just too complicated for use.

However, it is quite pricey. Be prepared to cover a relatively steep installation cost if the Konnekt Videophone seems like something you’d want for your parent, grandparent, or loved one. Keep in mind, though, that it still does cost less than the latest iPhone and iPad models.

Would a product like the Konnekt Videophone be of value to you? Do you struggle with technology?

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