If address bar shows sites.google.com, then please click here for the preferred www.bricecenter.com address for this page.Ooma Telo, will save you $60+ each month by eliminating your current land line monthly service fees. All you need is the piece of hardware shown above, and high speed internet, which you probably already have. With the money you save by dumping your regular phone service, the $209 Ooma will pay for itself in under 4 months (at $60/mo).
© 2011 Brice Center (updated 3/16/11)
I love my VoIP. Ooma is the name.
I have used Ooma for almost 3 years now, and it is wonderful.
You can port over your existing phone number, and it will work with all your existing phones and phone wiring. Also, compared to some other hardware based VoIP services, you do NOT have to leave your computer on to use it.
It gives you free landline service via VoIP. However, the quality is much higher than other VoIP services, and truly rivals a traditional landline. Buy the hardware for a one-time charge of ~$209, plug it in between your modem and router, activate it online, and you're all set. Of course, porting your number will take a couple weeks, but you can set it up and try it out with a number you choose in any area code first. I ported over my old Verizon phone number that I had for 7 years prior to Ooma. Porting is a one-time $40 charge unless you sign up for a year of Premier service (described below).
I am a Premier customer. The Premier features I like and use are Multi-Ring, Voicemail notifications to email with .mp3s attached, and I think I'm going to like the Google Voice extension (haven't tried it yet). If I ever get a compatible cell phone, I think I'll also like the Bluetooth connection to cell phones (see Compatibility Chart here).
As a Premier customer, I also got a second phone number, which I set up to forward to my cell phone, so I can answer it from anywhere. I use that line for Craigslist sales, etc...if I ever had a problem, it's a disposable number...of course you could also now use Google Voice for that same purpose instead. When it forwards, it announces that it is an Ooma forwarded call, and allows you the option of answering, or sending to voicemail.
You can also get additional numbers beyond that for $5 ea., and you can map all of the additional numbers to specific Telo handsets (purchase separately). For instance, you could have a separate number for each person in the house, and it would ring on just their handset.
The older Ooma device is the Hub/Scout product line. Don't bother. Just get the newer device, which is the Telo product line. I started with a Hub/Scout combo, and recently upgraded to the Telo system, and the voice quality seems a bit better, even though the Hub/Scout voice quality was pretty darn good. Honestly, I liked the cosmetic and user interface design of the Hub better than the Telo, but again, I would still recommend you buy the newer Telo design for the voice quality. See my comments here about the design.
Buying Guide. If you have the Premier service, you can also buy the Ooma Bluetooth adapter, and answer your cell calls on your home phones (Bluetooth connection from cell to Telo; still uses cell minutes, but you don't have to run for it, and you can use your nicer handsets). You can also opt for the Telo handset, which lets you take advantage of other Ooma Premier features like instant second line.
At the bottom of this article is the Ooma calling features list. You'll notice toward the bottom of that list are the Ooma Premier features. The Basic "normal" free features at the top are free (voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, etc), but the Ooma Premier features cost $10/month, only if you want to add them. Some of the Premier features I use are the multi-ring, and instant second line, which, as I mentioned above, I combine and use by giving out the secondary number on Craigslist and such, so I don't have to give out my cell #, but it still rings through to the cell, so I can answer it during the work day.
The base unit, acts like an answering machine in that you can listen to your voicemails directly through the speaker on the unit. You can also access your voicemails remotely on the web, and can get an email notification with or without an .mp3 of the message attached when you get a new message. They also have a cell phone text message notification option. I love the email notification with .mp3 attachments of the actual voicemails. I have it sent to my work email, and I can easily listen to my new voicemails right from my inbox without even going to the Ooma web interface. Efficiency. Love it.
Telo base. They tell you that you have to buy the additional Telo handsets, which you do if you want to use the Premier features like the second line. However, if you aren't using the Premier features, then you don't need their handset...just use your current phones on your current wiring.
I just plugged my Telo base unit directly into one of my wall phone jacks with a splitter, and it distributes to all the phones around my house with no problem. Ends up distributing around the house just like a regular landline.
I did go into the phone company's outside hookup box attached to my house and unplugged the line coming in from the street (even though it is technically already "disconnected"). That will be certain to avoid any potential issues with any stray signals or voltage coming in from the street. It took 2 mins to unplug it. Just find the box on the outside of your house, open it, and unplug the connector(s) inside. In mine, the connectors were just regular phone line connectors like you use to plug your phone in the wall inside your house. Easy.
Again, If you are only going for the basic service (not Ooma Premier), then you DON'T need the Ooma Telo Handset. You only need those if you are paying for the Ooma Premier features because they are required to properly use the second line features.
Ooma Telo and the overall Ooma service, I'm not too thrilled with the Ooma Telo Handset. The display is dim, and small, there's no headset jack (see here why I love headset jacks). Additonally, there's no belt clip, and it feels slow to navigate through the menus. Honestly, I don't use it much since I prefer to use a phone with a headset. One of these days I'll get around to testing it in more detail, and post my full review. For now, I don't really recommend it unless you are getting the Premier service and want to fully use the second line feature.
A tip, though. When you do call Ooma Customer Service, call from your cell phone, or some other phone. They sometimes ask you to reboot the device, and/or your modem and router, and obviously you can't be talking on the Ooma while rebooting it.
I've only had a couple types quality issues in my 2 years of ownership. The most common is where your outgoing voice seems choppy to the person on the other end. It really doesn't happen very often. Maybe once every few months. And it is usually very quickly solved by simply hanging up and calling back. Usually, just a poor connection, which also sometimes happens with traditional landlines. If that doesn't solve it, and it happens when calling a specific phone number, then it might be how Ooma's servers are routing your call to that specific number. Or they might have you configure your QoS (Quality of Service). Basically, that sets how much bandwidth your Ooma is allowed to reserve for itself to maintain voice quality. A quick call to Ooma Service will solve your issue.
If you notice the outgoing choppiness issue with ALL calls, then it's likely your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you need to call. I use Comcast. A couple months after I got the Ooma, I started having all my calls with outbound choppiness. I called Ooma, and they very kindly went through some troubleshooting, but then suggested I call Comcast, and call them back if I couldn't get resolution. I called Comcast, and sure enough it was their issue. There are amplifiers out on the street that help to amplify the cable signals. Those amplifiers have an auto-gain function that adjusts the amplifier based on the varying temperature outside. My problem started on a warm day in late April. The Comcast amplifier didn't have it's auto-gain switch set properly, so it affected my upstream signals (i.e. outgoing voice). When I told them I was having trouble with my VoIP, they told me that they were also having the same trouble with their Comcast Voice (VoIP) service customers on my street. After their technician came out and fixed the amplifier, the issue was solved. I never had that issue again. Apparently Comcast got their act together.
Some things to note about this issue, though. While I was having that Comcast issue, my internet service for the computer seemed normal, so at first I didn't suspect my internet service as the culprit. Also, the incoming voice of my callers sounded just fine. It was just my outgoing voice being choppy to the person on the other end that was the issue. Why? Well, because your outgoing voice is really an upload of data. Apparently, the amplifer gain being out of adjustment affects your upload speed because it introduces noise in the line, and especially affects the sensitive VoIP signals by introducing jitter and delay.
Another thing to note is that this happened with my older Ooma Hub device, not my current Telo. Ooma has improved the way the audio streams are handled with the Telo, making them less susceptible to internet service issues.
If you do have any issues, you'll likely notice it first with your outgoing voice. This is because it is essentially an upload, as I mentioned above. You see, your ISP limits your download speeds and upload speeds, but they put a much lower limit on your upload speeds. I think the basic Comcast plan has 12 Mbps download speed, and 2 Mbps upload speed. Those are artificially limited speeds that you can increase by paying Comcast for a higher plan. Anyway, the point is that your upload speed is one-sixth of your download, so your outgoing (upload) voice will likely suffer first. Also, the upstream signals are in a frequency that is more susceptible to noise on the Comcast line. So, while your trialing the Ooma for your first month, ask your callers to tell you how your voice sounds to them...obviously, though only ask people on landlines since cell phones often sound cruddy no matter what you do, and it's almost always the cell phone's fault.
The other issue I've had is a self-echo, where I hear my own voice in my ear. Again, a call to Ooma Service will usually get you fixed up.
Ooma Hub (don't buy the Hub, though...the Telo is better for the voice quality which is what really matters).
The Hub was just the right weight. It felt solid, and didn't get pulled around by the cables attached to it. The Telo is much lighter, and feels "cheap."
Also, the buttons on the Hub were nice, real buttons that clicked softly. The Telo has a touch-sensitive surface for the buttons. Just not as nice to use. The Hub also had real dials for the volume for the speaker (for listening to voicemails), as opposed to the Telo's touch-sensitive "buttons" that only have 5 volume settings including "OFF." Same goes for the brightness adjustment for the lights on the unit. The Hub had a dial, the Telo has the touch-sensitive junk. Even if they want to keep the touch-sensitive controls for everthing else, Ooma should bring back the dials for volume and brightness!
The touch-sensitive "buttons" are vauge, and for the brightness and volume you have to cycle through the 5 settings in order. The problem is, you have to count as you repeatedly press the buttons so you know when you are at the highest volume or brightness. If you don't count, then you end up pressing it again, and then you are a the OFF setting. Then you growl, and start pressing it 4 more times. Irritating!!!!! I like the dials of the Hub better. You rotate it up until it stops, and that's it.
The volume on the Telo speaker also seems a bit quieter when listening to voicemails than my old Hub. And the lights indicating that you have a voicemail were MUCH bigger and brighter on the old Hub than on the Telo. Sometimes I hardly notice the little orange ► symbol blinking at me.
Finally, the top surface is concave, meaning it dips down from it's outer edges. You know what that means? It collects dust! It would have been better to design it with a convex surface, that bows up instead. Easier to wipe the dust off, and I think it would have looked a little nicer, too.
Hopefully, Ooma will read this review, and improve the user design of their next model. Don't get me wrong, though, I would still buy the Telo over the Hub for the voice quality improvements, and I love the Ooma service all in all.
A note, though: I looked at Google Voice's international rates a couple months back, and they were cheaper to almost every country compared to Ooma. So get your Ooma 'cause it's awesome, but shop around for international calling rates (Google Voice...hint, hint).
Bluetooth connection on the Ooma, you need three things:
Here's an alternative to the Ooma Bluetooth: If you also don't have a cell phone compatible with the Ooma, but really want Bluetooth connection to your home phone so you can answer cell calls on your home handsets, consider the Panasonic KX-TG6582T or KX-TG6583T. You can see more info about them in my Panasonic Cordless Phone Buying Guide. Just look at the "658" family of phones when you get to my guide.
Amazon has them cheaper than everyone else at around $209 with free shipping. Click here for the Telo. Buying through my links helps support this site at no additional cost to you, so when you're ready to buy, please use my links.
Call anyone, anywhere in the U.S. Pay only applicable taxes and fees.
Enjoy the convenience of caller-ID and call-waiting— at no extra charge.
Access your voicemail remotely from any phone or web browser.
Check messages from anywhere in your house.
Get crisp acoustic performance with advanced features like voice compression, adaptive redundancy,
Pick out some new digits for the area code of your choosing. So if you feel like going with a 415 instead of a 510, we’ve got your number.
Just pay a one-time porting fee of $39.99, or enjoy complimentary number porting with an annual subscription to Ooma Premier (only $9.99 per month). Look up your number.
Ooma is a highly intuitive set-up. Most customers are up and making free calls in less than 15 minutes.
When you dial 911, emergency personnel will automatically have your registered address.
You can choose to keep a landline connected to your Ooma as a back up option so that during Internet outages placing 911 calls are always possible.
Make international calls starting at 1.4 cents per minute.
Hear messages, check call logs and control your preferences online.
Check your calling history from any Internet-connected computer or mobile device.
Call another Ooma customer anywhere in the world for free.
Get superb sound quality, security and range without interfering with your Wi-Fi network or other home electronics.
Ooma is a high-performance firewall router, with QoS support, that allows you to setup home-based servers and other network devices.
Every Ooma system comes with a free 60-day trial of Ooma Premier. Ooma Premier is $9.99/month or $119.99/year. Sign-up for a year and we'll transfer your number for free ($39.99 value).
Add Ooma Premier and you’ll get all the bells and whistles, including a full range of advanced features.
Every new Ooma system comes with a 60-day free trial of Ooma Premier. Premier costs $9.99/month, or $119.99 per year (+ taxes. Sign up for a year of Premier and Ooma will transfer (port) your phone number for free ($39.99 value).
Compatibility Chart to ensure your device is compatible)
Telo base here. Remember, buying through my links helps keep my site ad free, and helps me keep adding articles like this to help everyone, and it doesn't cost you anything extra.