GreatCall, Splash: Review

GreatCall, Splash: Review

The Basics

Product name: Splash 

Manufacturer / Distributor: GreatCall

Compilation: Sept. 2015

This page contains our GreatCall Splash review.

 

About this Research

This product review is part of an extensive series of medical alert system reviews of over 50 products, including hands-on evaluation and real-world testing of the most promising ones, in real-world situations.

These reviews and analyses are part of our Research Project designed to help older adults and their families Choose the Right Medical Alert System for THEM — the result of which is our Medical Alert Systems: Selection Guide.

We have tried hard to make this research as independent and objective as possible. It has not been funded or sponsored by any of the vendors of these products, and includes no advertising or "sponsored content". The team that conducted this research has strong scientific, clinical, and aging services backgrounds. You can read more about the team that did this research at the links above. 

 

Analyst Summary: GreatCall Splash

A "go anywhere" PERS, with 2 way voice, autodetection of falls, and waterproof. Greatcall is a well regarded leader in design of senior-friendly products, and also makes the popular Jitterbug phones.

This system made our list for testing, as on paper it looks very promising. You can see our detailed review below.

 

UPDATE: Mid 2016:

This product has now been replaced by a newer product called the Lively (also sold by GreatCall) (as of mid-2016). We have not yet reviewed this new Lively product but it looks quite similar to the Splash and we suspect it will perform similarly. The links to the manufacturer's page go the the GreatCall Lively product.

For those wondering about the similarity between the name "Lively" and the company of that name that also made an emergency alert product as well as sensors in the home, there are two clarifications.

  1. The GreatCall Lively Medical Alert is not the same product as the one previously made by the company called Lively.
  2. GreatCall acquired the assets of the company Lively, and is using the brand name for its new products.

There is a second GreatCall new product called the Lively Wearable which is different again. 

 

Day 1. Acquiring it.

Update: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 14:41. By: Richard Caro. 

 

It seems as though for this product you first buy the hardware, which in this case is the small wireless pendant only. You can buy this on the GreatCall website. We found it for $10-20 cheaper on Amazon (depending on whether you want blue or silver). We ordered the blue model for about $42 on Amazon.

Now this will need to be activated after we get it (there is a fee for this) and then it will need to have a monthly service plan added to make it useful. You do this through GreatCall. There is a choice of plans.

So far, this is remarkably painless and differs notably from the other alert systems we are trying to test. We did not yet find any others on our "testing" list that are on Amazon.

Day 2. Unboxing

Update: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 14:41. By: Richard Caro. 

 

The Splash arrived via Amazon in the usual way, and getting it was timely and painless.

In appearance it comes in a relatively small box with attractive packaging and basically looks like a typical piece of consumer electronics packaging. Attractive and enticing. And quite unlike many other medical alert systems we have tested thus far, which do not seem to have focused on making the packaging attractive.

What you get

When unboxed it contains the pendant, and a charging cradle and the power adapter. Simple and uncomplex.

Splash

Look and feel

It looks nice. Not like a medical appliance but more like a cell phone or other modern electronic gadget. But it is a bit larger than expected.

Splash pendant

Activation

Update: Tue, 12/29/2015 - 14:41. By: Richard Caro. 

 

Activation of this unit was very straightforward.

First, since I bought the pendant on Amazon, I needed to create an account on the Great Call website, purchase a service package ($20 per month plus a $25 activation fee), fill in various details about the person being monitored etc, and provide my credit card details. At that point my account was active, and I just needed to activate the pendant itself.

I plugged in the charger, placed the pendant in the charger, followed some simple instructions, and within a few minutes I had talked to a responder, tested the system, and was ready to go.

I especially liked being able to provide all my information online at my convenience. Most of the other systems require you to complete a paper form and mail it back.

I played around with the pendant a bit. It seems rather nicely designed. You can turn it off and on if need be. The battery needs regular charging (they suggest nightly).

In operation you can press once and you are connected with the Great Call responder (they call it the 5 star responder). In a real emergency you press and hold the button and it will dial 911 directly, although I am sure the Great Call responder could also call 911 for you. I liked this two level approach, although I wonder if you would remember how to do that in an emergency.

The material that comes with the pendant makes it clear that 5 star is to be thought of as a sort of concierge service and not just for "emergencies". They suggest calling if your car breaks down or if you are in a scary, poorly lighted part of town.

I feel this is a modern version of the emergency response. More like a "hand-holding concierge on demand" service. I like the idea a lot.

Testing completed

Update: Sat, 01/02/2016 - 15:53. By: Richard Caro. 

 

After a couple of months of wearing or carrying around the Splash, and testing it alongside several other "go anywhere" emergency response systems, we have summarized the results in a comparative discussion of these different products.
You can see the full analysis here. (this will go live in early Jan. 2016)

Positives and negatives

Overall the Splash was one of our favorites. As an "out and about system" we thought it had the best balance between price, features, and wearability (it looks like a piece of consumer electronics rather than a medical product).

The area where it was weakest was in its perfection of being able to summon help under any conceivable circumstance. For example, lacking a home base station it would not work in areas of the home where cell coverage is poor. However, this concern may be overrated. In my house for example, it worked well in every room, since I have good cell signal in every room.

We think it debatable that one would really wear the Splash at all times, including while showering and when jumping out of bed in the middle of the night. So, for a very frail person, mostly staying at home, unconcerned by the stigma of wearing a pendant, and focused mainly on making absolutely sure that help comes when needed (while at home), other products would be better.

Location capability

One aspect of the Splash that seems particularly noteworthy is the way it handles location via its built in GPS. The system periodically sends a location to the response center computer, so that system contains a breadcrumb trail of where you have been. The response center computer also has an intelligent learning algorithm that means over time it can become more familiar with your activity patterns and perhaps more able to locate you in certain circumstances. Great Call believe this translates to being able to pop up your location faster and more accurately after you press the emergency button than can competitors.

It is true that the Splash performed well in our tests of location capability. It failed to deliver a location within a block of actual location on only 1 out of 17 tests. This is better than most of the other products we tested, with only the Philips Lifeline GoSafe being comparable. 

Response time

An area where the Splash really excels is speed of response. In our tests, the average time from pressing the button to hearing a responder was 16 seconds, and only thrice was it over 30 seconds in 19 trials spread out over a month (faster than 30 seconds in 84% of events). The maximum was 53 seconds. The second longest time was only 40 seconds.

See the article linked to above to see how that compares with other products, but it was clearly the fastest. 

One final point about speed. GreatCall believes that the GPS breadcrumbing (see above) allows it to receive a location faster than do competing products. We did not specifically test how long it took after the responder answered our call before they had a location in front of them. But it may well have been faster than the other products.

If you care about saving seconds then this is the right product.

Other comments

According to my kitchen scale the pendant weighs 2.1 oz.

The GreatCall Splash is waterproof to a specific standard called  IP67: ("highly water resistant: submerged in water for up to 3 feet and up to 30 minutes"). As are the competitors Philips Lifeline GoSafe and Numera Libris.

 

 

Note: If you want to support our work, please use these links when you buy any of the products we write about, as we sometimes get a small percentage of the sale from the manufacturer, which we use to support our research. (This does not effect the price you pay). See How we Fund our Work.

 

 

Product Line & Company: GreatCall

GreatCall is a well regarded leader in design of senior-friendly products, and makes the popular Jitterbug phones, as well as the Splash mobile emergency alert pendant.

The company's medical alert products include three different approaches to summoning help. The Splash is a stand alone, go-anywhere pendant. The Jitterbug is a smartphone with a red "call help now" button. And the 5 star App is an App that runs on an iPhone or Android smartphone.

The 5 star response services that work on each of the emergency devices above can optionally include some very interesting services that go far beyond the traditional emergency responder service. These extra... .........Read more

Selection Tool

Return to Selection Tool: Medical Alert Systems

Return to the selection tool to refine your search and see other suitable products.