Ooma Telo & Handset
The Ooma Telo (right) will work with your existing cordless phone or the Telo Handset (left - sold separately)
We wrote about the Ooma Core home phone system back in April 2009 and explained how it made it possible to use mobile broadband and VOIP service as a replacement for your landline home phone service. Since then, Ooma has released updated hardware called the Ooma Telo and Ooma Telo Handset (an optional add-on that lets you make the most of Ooma's features and also supports Google Voice!) and recently announced additional improvements at the CES Show this month.
For those not familiar with what Ooma provides, here's a recap. Ooma's VoIP service allows you to make and receive phone calls using your high-speed internet connection, including 3G technology like EVDO or 4G WiMAX! There are plenty of providers that offer VoIP phone service, but the Ooma is the ONLY one we've found that offers this service without a monthly phone bill. All you need is any standard phone, high-speed internet, and the Ooma device.
How Much is it?
After the initial $249.99 cost of the Ooma Telo device itself, there is NO monthly fee to make calls to anyone anywhere in the US! For more advanced features, Ooma does offer a subscription service called Ooma Premier, which provides features like an instant second line, the ability to use that second line for one touch conference calling, advanced privacy features, and more for $9.99/mo or $119.99/year. International calling also incurs an additional cost, but Ooma makes international calling affordable - calls to Canada are just 1.4 cents per minute, and other countries are comparatively cheap. Alternatively, your overseas buddies could simply use an Ooma registered with a USA phone number themselves and avoid the international charges altogether!
The Ooma Telo Handset is optional and sells for $49.99. You can use any standard phone with the Ooma Telo, but the Telo Handset is specifically designed to work perfectly with all of Ooma's features and is particularly beneficial if you plan to sign up for Ooma Premier.
The only other charge associated with the Ooma (other than your high-speed internet connection, of course) occurs if you want to keep your existing phone number. Ooma will give you a new phone number for free, but if you want to transfer your existing landline phone number over to Ooma there is a one-time fee of $39.99 (and Ooma will waive that fee if you sign up for one year of Ooma Premier service)*.
What do I Need to Use ooma?
Using Ooma is simple. You'll need:
How Does it Work?
Using the Ooma Telo is easy - simply connect it via ethernet cable to your router and connect your phone (any standard phone or the Ooma Telo Handset) to the Telo, follow the included instructions, and you'll be making free calls in no time!
What NEW features does the Ooma Telo support that weren't available on the older Ooma?
The new Ooma Telo supports their Ooma PureVoice™, High Definition Voice, mobile phone calling with the iPhone or iPod touch, Bluetooth support, Google Voice Extensions and voicemail transcription, and the unit features a USB port that should allow for future expansion.
Ooma Pure Voice™
Ooma raises the bar on voice quality again with the introduction of Ooma Pure Voice. Ooma now brings to the home the data redundancy sophistication normally found in industrial-grade Internet telephony products. With the explosion of bandwidth usage in the home for video streaming, photo uploads and real-time gaming, Ooma Pure Voice ensures crystal clear conversations over congested networks while maintaining low-bandwidth requirements.
High Definition Voice (HD Voice)
Ooma is the first residential phone service to support high-definition voice technology. Compared to conventional telephones, Ooma HD Voice doubles the audio frequencies transmitted to deliver richer, more natural sounding conversation to calls between Ooma customers. Compatible corded telephone or Ooma Telo Handset is required to support Ooma HD Voice.
iPhone and iPod Touch Calling Application
Ooma customers will be able to download an Ooma iPhone or iPod Touch application to make phone calls over any Wi-Fi network using an iPhone or iPod touch. Ooma’s app allows customers to take their Ooma service on the road with them to make or receive calls from around the world at Ooma’s low-cost international rates.
The addition of Bluetooth support on the Ooma Telo allows users to integrate their mobile phone with their home phone systems, delivering superior flexibility and convenience. Bluetooth support on the Ooma Telo allows customers to pair compatible, Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones enabling inbound calls from the mobile phone to be answered on any home phone connected to the Ooma Telo. Users may also pair compatible Bluetooth headsets to the Ooma Telo to enable hands-free talking from anywhere in the home. Additionally, Bluetooth support will allow users to download their phone book from their mobile devices for use on the Ooma Telo Handset and online at My Ooma.
Google Voice Extensions
Ooma simplifies the Google Voice user experience, enabling consumers to take advantage of the complementary capabilities found in both offerings, for a truly integrated and seamless phone experience. Google Voice users can integrate the Call Presentation, Listen In, and caller-ID features with their Ooma system as well as access Google Voice voicemail at a touch of a button.
Ooma customers can have inbound voicemail transcribed into text and sent as an email or text message. Users can now enjoy the convenience of reading their voicemail quickly and silently whether they are at home or on the road. Ooma voicemail transcription is human-aided to ensure the delivery of accurate and reliable messages.
What we love about Ooma:
- Easy to use and set up
- Call quality was excellent with cable internet and very good with EVDO
- No special phone needed - use your existing landline phone (although the Telo Handset will allow you to get the most out of Ooma's features)
- Can be used with any high-speed Internet connection (DSL, Cable, 3G)
- Keep your existing phone number (Ooma charges a one-time fee of $39.99 to port in your existing phone number)
- Very low bandwidth use - Ooma uses 1/3 the bandwidth of Vonage, so the 5GB Sprint/Verizon/AT&T cap should not be an issue.
- Use it anywhere you have high-speed internet (and take your number with you if you move)
- Call anyone anywhere in the US for FREE!
What we're not as fond of:
- Extra features like advanced privacy settings and conference calling require a subscription to ooma Premier ($9.99/month or $119.99/year)
- 3G signal strength must be very strong (a minimum of -85dmb) for quality performance over EVDO/HSPA
The bottom line: Overall the Ooma is a great product and is very enjoyable to set up and use. Anyone with high-speed Internet can eliminate their landline phone bill and even keep their phone number in most cases! 3G users should take care to make sure they have adequate signal strength before investing in the Ooma, however.
*Pay only applicable taxes and fees. Unlimited calls are subject to normal residential usage limitations. Visit ooma.com/termsandconditions for details.