292 of 310 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ooma - VOIP with some surprises!
ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills
Ooma's new internet phone system offers a new twist on a market filled with alternatives for voice-over-IP (VOIP) calling. With the choice of either keeping your existing landline or using your broadband connection for a pure internet calling system, it will fill a niche for a lot of people. The...
Published on January 27, 2008 by Mark
97 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Customer Service disaster
Having the OOMA system in my home for business, I thought - let me save my elderly parents some money and install a system in their home. Well my good intentions backfired due to the incompetence of the customer service team (offshore - English second language - not necessary to spell it out) and the horrendous porting process problems.
We started in February,...
Published on May 19, 2010 by Kathleen M. Fontaine
Most Helpful First | Newest First
292 of 310 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ooma - VOIP with some surprises!,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills
Ooma's new internet phone system offers a new twist on a market filled with alternatives for voice-over-IP (VOIP) calling. With the choice of either keeping your existing landline or using your broadband connection for a pure internet calling system, it will fill a niche for a lot of people. The simple design and quality calls are sure to get noticed.
+ No residual monthly service charges! Free domestic long distance!
+ Nice design - sleek unit with big simple buttons and lighted indicators (blue=good, red=bad! :-) )
+ Offers landline integration or pure internet phone options to meet different consumer needs
+ Landline integrated service offers real 911, not internet call center - HUGE PLUS!!!
+ Landline integrated service lets you to use it from multiple phone jacks with Ooma Scouts!!! ooma Scout - Accessory to VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills
+ You can keep your same number with existing landline service or get a new number with internet service
+ Included voicemail system can be accessed over the internet via the OOMA lounge!!!
+ GREAT international calling rates!!!
+ Great startup manual with very simple instructions for almost every possible setup
+ Works with any phone, corded or cordless
+ Instant second line allows you to put people on hold, answer another call, or conference in 2 calls
+ Call screening, do not disturb, or send to voicemail when you are not able to answer a call!
+ Voice quality is very good
+ Service includes many premium features, including caller ID, call waiting, 3-way calling, etc.
+ One year warranty on the hub or scouts
- Initial cost may seem high and keep some people away, though I personally think it's worth it
- Still not able to transfer numbers to Ooma system; internet only system gives you new number; should be coming soon
- Requires an existing broadband connection; dial-up users will need to upgrade before using Ooma
- Perhaps less flexible for those who want to call from their PCs when travelling away from home
- For the internet only version, less ways to have multiple phone lines indoors
- Design doesn't include integrated caller ID screen
- No color options yet - just the basic silver / white
- Ooma system must be prioritized over your home router
- Won't work in a home or business with a home phone routing system (HPNA) already installed
Installation of the Ooma system varies based upon your current home phone and internet setups. As a minimum you must have broadband internet at home (DSL, Fiber Optic, or Cable Modem). It may take time, but the process is made VERY SIMPLE by a well designed "getting started" manual.
The first thing you have to do is go to the Ooma website to activate your hub. Enter your hub MAC address included on the device or box. If you will use your existing landline you can keep your phone number. If you want the pure internet service, you will have to choose a new number. Soon they will allow people to "port" their existing numbers to Ooma, but for now you have to get a new number as with most VOIP services.
The landline integrated version requires you to have basic phone service and the CFB (call forward busy) service locally installed. They will work with the phone company to install the CFB service, though I recommend doing that yourself if possible. However, they won't cancel any home regional, long distance or voicemail services you currently have on your line, so you will have to do that.
Once you finish your activation and billing information, you can start the physical setup. Plug it in directly from the broadband modem and then install the phone and home routers off of the system. Prioritizing your Ooma first in your home network will give techies pause. So far I can't tell any difference in my overall internet usage, but I will be checking this frequently.
Once you have your unit plugged in, it doesn't take long before your system starts blinking blue, which means the basic functionality is working. Once the color turns solid, all advanced features are working. If the ooma tab is red, then you have to do some troubleshooting. I didn't need to, but there are troubleshooting steps in the manual.
When you pick up the phone, you will hear a "new" ooma dialtone. That's how you know that all your domestic calls are now free!
The unit looks great! The buttons are big and simple, and the unit is sleek and modern. Even without the manual, you can basically figure out how to use them. Some features require more experience, like pressing both lines 1 and 2 to conference the calls together.
The only things you might want in the design would be colors other than the silver, like black. I personally would have liked a little screen for caller ID on the unit, since I use several older phones. Instead you need a newer phone with caller ID on it, or a little add-on caller ID unit.
The features both on the device and in the system are clutch! You can hear your voicemails as they are being recorded, or put the do-not-disturb on and have it record silently. You can access your voicemail at home or when you are away from home with the Ooma lounge. Easy conferencing is also nice.
One feature I definitely wanted to use was the Ooma scout. The problem is, the ooma scout is designed to work with landline integrated service. As far as I can tell, for those of us that want to use internet only service you have to use a cordless phone system with multiple handsets to access the ooma across your house.
Still, most people will be using the landline / internet combo setup, because having real 911 with VOIP is a really important feature. Not to mention, when the power goes out or the internet goes down, your old landline service is a backup that stays up. You won't have free calls when the net is down, but at least you will still be able to get calls and make local calls. This is something most services don't offer.
The international calling rates were also a good surprise. I didn't know what to expect from Ooma's "low rates," but they were than I expected. You can click on the website to see sample rates. They vary based upon which local area code you are dialing in some countries. Regardless, the rates are all lower than when I have been getting through different calling services or calling cards. I can't compare to the rates charged by other VOIP companies, but I will definitely look into that. For my part, I'm satisfied.
The only thing that the competition offers that I don't see from Ooma yet is the ability to "take the service with you." Meaning, with some other services you can make calls when you're away from home. However, you also have additional monthly charges and add-on hardware charges with those services. Ooma really seems geared towards the home. Hopefully they will integrate a way to use the service away from home. They already seem pretty good and that would put them over the top.
Voice quality when making local or long distance calls sound just like any phone. That's the best compliment you can give VOIP.
As for durability, only time will tell how these things hold up. The service is free as long as you have your device. You get a one year warranty from the time you buy it. So I guess than means if your device breaks after your warranty expires, you would have to buy a new one at full price? I guess it all depends on how successful Ooma is.
I only recently got my hands on one of these, so I will have to revisit this product once I've gotten miles on mine. So far my experience has been positive.
Overall this device offers some great features. The savings should add up over time. With continued improvements this product will only become more attractive. Give it a try!
97 of 108 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Customer Service disaster,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)Having the OOMA system in my home for business, I thought - let me save my elderly parents some money and install a system in their home. Well my good intentions backfired due to the incompetence of the customer service team (offshore - English second language - not necessary to spell it out) and the horrendous porting process problems.
We started in February, waited, and waited for an email that the porting of the phone number from Cox Cable to OOMA was completed - never received one email from OOMA over the 3+-month period, with the exception of the Welcome email.
I called in late March and was told all was good. Tried again in mid April - was told that there was a 'discrepancy issue' - the Zip Code and that an email had been sent out. Checked - no email, meaning weeks had gone by with no activity to rectify the issue. Faxed a copy of the phone bill showing the correct zip code. (found it odd that OOMA didn't think it was important to make outgoing calls to their customers on issues like this - or even use snail mail)
Called again on May 4, (still no email) was told there was another discrepancy, but the customer service agent had no idea what that discrepancy was nor did she know where to find out... in frustration I canceled the account and was told the number would not be ported and a refund would be sent out for the porting fee. I removed the equipment.
Late last night, received a call from my elderly Dad who is dealing with health issues and my mom's Alzheimer's that his phone was not working.
Guess what - OOMA's third party vendor ported my parent's phone number and Cox Cable canceled their phone service.
Called Cox and was told my parents would be without a phone for one-week period.
Called OOMA, was told my account was NEVER canceled and there was nothing they could do.
Called again later in the day hoping to get a more intelligent customer service agent and after several attempts and repeating myself 6 times, she finally put me through to speak with a manager - who told me the account was canceled on May 4 but that the porting of the number was my fault because I didn't cancel that too.
When I asked, how would I go about doing that and why would I want the phone number ported if the OOMA account was canceled? He actually argued for a few minutes, but then his light bulb finally came on and he admitted there was a flaw in their process, but that my parents were basically screwed and OOMA could not expedite the porting of the number back to Cox.
So my elderly parents have no phone for 1 week because OOMA who has a great product, looked at their bottom line and thought - gee, lets push our customer service offshore and put our valuable customers needs into the hands people who speak good English but have difficulty comprehending it. Also, let's ship off the porting process to third party vendors who are also incompetent.
48 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UPDATED! - Amazingly clear voice!,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)Review updated - read initial review and see update at the end.
Let me start off by saying that I abandoned traditional telephone service back in 2002 when we switched to Vonage, and though Vonage has not been perfect, it's been more than acceptable (until now) for the low fixed cost of unlimited calling throughout North America. However, I have not called Canada in over a decade (nor Europe or asia) except 800 numbers, so ooma's limitation to free calls only within the US is perfectly fine with me. Even so, the rarity of a call outside the US would still make ooma a better deal than Vonage's $32/month ($24.95 + $7 in taxes).
Now, I've only had the ooma service for a little over 24 hours at the time I write this, but what immediately struck me is the amazingly clear call quality. It's not only MUCH better than Vonage, but MUCH better than any wired telephone I have ever had, and I am not just referring to my end, which with Vonage was almost always nearly perfect, but the other end, who I called or called me, often complained of my vice being cut off at the beginning/end of a sentence and audio drop-outs, occasional garbling, etc. Understand, it was never bad enough for these people to be really annoyed. They typically said I sounded like I was on a cell-phone, but all said they got used to it. When I called my wife when she was home, from a landline somewhere, I could tell what my friends meant.
However, with ooma, I waited until my long distance friends and family were surely up and about (I am in Atlanta, and my family is all in Chicago, Denver and California), and called them each. Aside from some of them wondering where I was due to the different phone number (apparently, the text portion of the Caller ID did not go through, though I did register my name when I activated the service, so it may be a glitch of some sort) they all... ALL... remarked about how close I sounded.
In particular, My Dad, who does a LOT of business with international companies and is used to VoIP issues, though he does not use a VoIP provider himself, was impressed most of all. He said I sounded clearer than most calls made over the plain old telephone service, and remarked at how I sounded like I was "next door." He was so impressed, than when I told him how much ooma costs, he decided he wanted to try it out, especially when I told him about the optional ability to use a traditional landline with basic for 911 and as a backup (he is in his late '70s after all).
My best friend in illinois, who I speak with multile times weekly and is on a cell-phone, too was "blown-away" at how clear I sounded. He said he did not recognize my voice at first as we have not spoken in person in years!).
I called my wife on her office number and her iPhone, and in both cases, she said I sounded clearer than she has ever heard my voice over the phone!
Okay, enough raving about the voice quality... How about set up?
Well, as advertised, I got it up and running in under 20 minutes from the moment I opened the box after FedEx dropped it off at 8:30am. Activation took only a couple minutes and I picked the most memorable number I have ever had in my 43 years).
Connecting it is as simple as a stand-alone answering machine, though with one extra connection to the Internet. It turned out that the extensions in our apartment were not wired, so the ooma hub would not work with them, but next time I hear the phone guy in the utility closet across the hall, I'll ask him to punch them all down to be shared (or I could get a punchdown tool at Home Depot and do it myself, as the punch block is right on the wall in the laundry closet). I doubt most people would encounter this problem though. However, in the meantime, I plugged the ooma scout into the hub directly, and it works perfectly.
I absolutely love the convenience of the buttons on the ooma to let me listen to messages, screen calls, etc, just like the good old fashioned answering machines. I always hated voice mail due to the inconvenience of how to use it. Now, I just press play, listen, skip, delete, save, pause, stop. Can't get any easier!
The dual line feature is great, I tested it out with my cell phone, and can easily see it getting used often as the cell service only works in our apartment if you stand really still whilst talking, due to a lot of radio interference on our side of the building (according to AT&T Wireless).
In all, I am really impressed. ooma is what VoIP should always have been.
Now, let me be candid on what I perceive to be ooma's only real weakness compared to other VoIP providers such as Vonage. International calls. If you are someone who makes a LOT of international calls, especially to Canada, the UK, France and Italy), you should definitely do your homework and analyze your current call usage and compare Vonage (and other VoIP providers) and ooma's long distance pricing. Vonage includes free calling to those countries I listed, whilst ooma charges as little as about 2 cents/minute to LANDLINES in those countries, but watch out... calling mobiles in those same countries using ooma can cost quite a bit more! But, if you are like me, and the vast majority of your calling is in the US, then ooma is definitely the better deal.
We're keeping Vonage )as a backup) for a couple more months or so, forwarding call to the ooma number to see how ooma works out, and if all goes well, when the free ooma premier service offer ends in 90s days, we will cancel Vonage and keep the ooma premier service, which costs have what Vonage costs (the extras are worth it to us). We won't port he number though since the ooma number is better than the one Vonage gave us when we moved here from out of state last month.
Thanks for reading. I hope this was helpful! I set a reminder in iCal to update this review in a month.
UPDATE: After one month with ooma, all I can say is service has been perfect. Nothing has gone wrong once. The voice quality has remained consistently outstanding. I simply have no other update to provide. 100% happy with ooma! I have iCal'd another reminder to update again in another month.
57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent VOIP system with more flexibility and quality than most.,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Program (What's this?)The Ooma is a new VOIP (voice-over-IP) system designed to either replace, or supplement your existing phone service. I've used a number of other VOIP options and hadn't yet found the one that was right for me, but with Ooma, I've finally got what I've been looking for! Most recently I had been trying MagicJack which is a very low-priced option that plugs into the USB port on your computer and requires your computer to be on in order to receive or make calls. The price couldn't be beat, but the numbers available were very limited and the sound quality not very good at all, with noticeable pauses when people tried to talk at the same time. Their website as well was a nightmare to use, with it very difficult to find any information when you needed help, links going to the wrong pages, etc. So I was ready to try something new.
The Ooma arrives in a sleek black box that brings to mind some of the Apple packaging, very attractive and fun to open up and see what's inside. The device itself was a bit larger than I expected, but it has a sleek and elegant design and has large buttons that are easy to read and use. I'm not particularly fond of the silver color, and it seems strange that it doesn't have a display for things like caller ID or number of messages, but it otherwise is fine. The instruction manuals are a pleasure after so many these days that are poorly written and hard to understand. These are very clear and full of pictures and diagrams to help you get set up, with one manual for "quick-start" setup and a second more detailed manual covering all the features and options. The Ooma web site as well is very professional and easy to use, full of common questions, account access, and you can easily get hold of tech support to help with setup if needed. The device has an indicator light that shows blue when it is ready to make calls and flashes red when it is booting up or having problems, and the various buttons light up to show which line is in use, if you have voicemail, etc. The initial bootup did take several minutes so you do need to be patient when starting it up the first time.
So, is it worth the price? I would say definitely yes! Let's look at some of the features you get:
1. Can integrate with your normal landline phone. This is nice if you want to have true 911 service, and the security of a phone line in the event of a power or internet outage. If you don't own a cell phone, it really is an important feature. I personally am willing to deal with the E911 service if an emergency arises so have dropped my landline service for now. If you decide to drop your landline, you can now transfer your phone number to Ooma, but there is a charge for it.
2. Virtual second line. This is something that most VOIP services will charge you extra for, if they even offer it. This allows a second call on the same line when someone is using the first. I've had a chance to use this a few times and it really is nice. The Ooma hub has "1" and "2" buttons for the two lines and it's very easy to both select a line to accept incoming calls, or if you have an Ooma scout, you can use as second phone to place an outgoing call while one line is already in use. A great feature for homes with lots of people! I did try a 3-way conference call using the 2-line feature as well, and did find that the call quality dropped noticeably, so not sure how much I would tend to use this. As with any VOIP service, a lot depends on how much other traffic is currently going through your broadband connection, so your mileage may vary on using both lines at once, may work beautifully for some people and just may be too much for it to handle for others. I'd definitely suggest you not have someone on the computer playing online games or doing massive downloads at the same time! I did find that in order to use the Scout and a second line with the non-landline install, since the scout uses your existing phone lines you will need to wire the Ooma hub to the wall jack, which normally is not needed with this method.
3. No monthly fees. So this is kind of where things get a little questionable. The company says they guarantee they will offer the service for at least 3 years. My understanding is that your service is free as long as they are in business and the box still working. So sort of like getting a lifetime membership on a Tivo. But being that they are pretty new, it will remain to be seen how successful they are and if the business model is successful. At least now you can extend the warranty on the box out to 3 years for an additional fee, but considering the price, it would be better if it was included, since the cost of device becomes questionable if you don't get at least 3 years of use out of it. I've already had to send my box back for replacement when it stopped working, so I have to question the reliability of it. Suffice to say, buy the extra warranty!
4. Great sound quality. The first call I made on the Ooma really scared me as I could not hear the party on the other line properly at all, the sound almost sounded like it was bouncing, it was going in and out so fast. Luckily that seemed to be a one-time problem as all the calls I've made since then have been really excellent, far better than the other VOIP services I have used and better than my cell phone even. If you get fairly poor cell reception in your house, this is a great alternative! I am using it with a wirelesss system, with a base unit plugged into the Ooma and satellite phones through the house and it works beautifully.
5. Integrated voice mail and caller ID features. This has some really nice voice mail services, you can screen calls when they come in, automatically send to voice mail, you can configure your account to send an email when voice mail comes in and tell it how long to wait before picking up. You can call in remotely to check messages, or even check your voice mail on the Ooma website. They give you a pretty good amount of storage for voicemail and individual messages can be up to 5 minutes which should be long enough for all but the most talkative of people!
So those are the major pluses for me. I have also tried faxing over Ooma, using *99 before the number and it went through without a hitch. They do say they are working on even more reliable faxing, so I'll have to see how future longer fax sessions go. It does require a broadband connection, but unlike the MagicJack, does not need your computer to be on to work. It connects between my cable modem and my wireless router, however, it doesn't currently have a good option to go with you when you travel, so for someone that needs that, MagicJack would be a perfect addon to use along with this service due to its really low cost (although of course, mainly for outgoing calls as the phone number would be different. You could also use a service like GrandCentral which allows you to use one phone number that routes calls to all your different phone numbers, if you want to get your incoming calls as well.)
One other issue I did run into is that it is very particular about how you dial numbers. If you are dialing long distance in the US, you *must* include the "1" in front of the number. I didn't do this at first, being used to using a cell phone, and it ended up ringing some other number as a result. On the flip side, for local numbers, you have to leave the area code off, at least in my area, or again, it rings the wrong number or gives you an error message. Again, on a normal landline I just use the area code for everything, since some numbers in the same one as me are local and others are long distance. So it's a bit of a hassle getting used to having to dial differently according to what the area code is. I'm sure over time it will just be second nature to me, but would be nice if it just worked like a cell phone where you just dial area code - then the number for everything. There have also been a couple times where I simply could not get through to the correct number (generally 800 numbers) and had to use my cell phone instead, not sure what the problem is, but it's quite annoying when it happens. It also blocks caller ID when you are dialing long distance, unless you put a *82 first. Kind of a pain, it would be nice if you could have it turned on, unless you disable it with a code, not the other way around. Fairly minor nit though.
So overall, a very positive experience with this device. The initial cost of entry is a bit high, but it's definitely got the potential to be a real winner and could be a real cost-saver fairly quickly for many people.
UPDATE: It's almost two years since I got my Ooma, and it's going strong! Very happy with the service and it's been rock-solid and totally reliable for me. Highly recommended.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Like on the verge of Love,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)We've had this service for 3+ months and we're very pleased. We've been able to pare down our local phone bill by $60+ a month, so we'll recoup our investment by June.
On the positive side:
*Voice quality has been great. Wouldn't know we switched to Ooma for long distance if it weren't for the special dial tone they have.
*Customer Service has been really, really great. When I ordered the phone and during setup I have numerous questions, and they were easy to reach and answered all of them.
*Forgotten how I like being able to press a button on the the Hub and get my messages as well as screen calls.
On the negative side:
*Can't retain your same phone number. Mitigating this is how easy Ooma integrates with you retaining your local phone service. They've said they will have porting in Feb.
*Not a big inventory of phone numbers. We live outside of Austin and they do not have local phone numbers for our city. Don't want to hand out a 10-digit phone number to the neighbors.
*Have to add "*82" to outgoing calls for caller ID to work. Mitigated this by editing the phone numbers in the speed dial directory of our cordless phones.
*Have to depend on ISP for connectivity. You have to tip your hat to Ma Bell that there is usually a dial tone - except where I live and it seems our service goes on the fritz if we have a heavy rain (not making this up).
If you are comfortable with your ISP then you will like this service. When I can port my number over from my local phone company so that I can cut them out of the picture, then I will add a 5th star to the rating and sing their praises from the mountain top.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Product,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)I've been using Ooma for about a month and we love it. It is very easy to setup. We opted for to keep our local line as a backup for when the Internet goes down. We forwarded the local number to the number provided by Ooma. This allows us to have the best of both worlds...all of Ooma's great services such as voicemail access from the Internet, free national calling, second line and local 911 services if needed.
I am actually a VoIP engineer for a large multi-national company and have tried many VoIp products designed for "home" use. In my opinion, this one is hands down the best. The biggest problem associated with VoIP across the Internet is voice quality. In a corporate network, we can control the VoIP traffic giving it priority over data traffic...this ensures Voice quality doesn't suffer from jitter or latency. You cannot do this across the Internet, so most home VoIP solutions suffer at times due to these two factors.
Ooma provides me crystal clear voice quality 99% of the time. The only time I have experience poor quality has been when two people in my household were downloading large files from the Internet and completely saturating my Internet line. If someone is using the Intenet for browsing...we have experience not degredation in voice quality.
This is an excellent product!!!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fee-Free Phone That Works Great,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)After a few weeks using the Ooma I have to say I'm very impressed. Anyone who regularly talks on the phone should seriously consider this as an alternative to regular landline or Vonage-type services. Yes, it's an expensive investment, but the long-term value is great. Pay once up front and talk away without ever paying another cent unless you need to call overseas. That's a much better deal than the $50/month plans the cable companies are rolling out.
Ooma is worth it because it works great. Super easy setup and the call quality is top-notch, even better than Skype, which we also have in the house. The fit and finish of the hub is also a plus. This is a high quality product. All you need to add is a phone or phones.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that phone number selection is not possible and it's not yet possible to port your existing phone number when you want to shut off whatever service you were using before you got the Ooma. That's supposedly coming soon, but as of this review it's not yet available.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best VOIP Product out there,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)This is truly a transformational VOIP product. Unlike Vonage or Skype, once you buy the hub and hook it up to your broadband connection, you get free calls in the US, as many as you want, forever--or at least for for as long as you have the device. The voice quality is great, there is a whole list of cool features that come with it (online answering machine, spam blocking, call waiting, three-way calling, caller-ID, one touch do not disturb, etc.), as well an the potential for a second line (also with free calls), when you get the ooma scout.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make sure you buy ooma Hub/Scout combo or Telo, not this solo Hub!,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)Was not going to review ooma because in several hundred previous reviews, it would appear that it's all been said, no?
However, ooma has now come out with newer hardware, and as of October 1 2009 has changed their Terms of Service, causing much confusion among current and prospective owners.
This review mostly concerns the time period of October through December 31 2009, though parts of it may still be helpful in 2010 and beyond :)
To provide you with a quick background, I have had my ooma Core system for three months now. I was kind of surprised when I saw my purchase date, because I feel like I've used it for much, much longer. I have NO hardware experience, having always left it to someone else to set up computers, televisions, etc. However, I installed ooma myself, with a DSL modem and a router that are each maybe 10 years old, connecting it to my laptop network. When I replaced my laptop with a desktop, using a new combo modem/router, I again had no trouble installing ooma and connecting my other computers to my new network. For reference, I have Verizon DSL with 3 Mbps download speed, and I have always had perfectly clear phone reception without any discernable difference in my web surfing speeds. I never even had to take the extra Quality of Service steps in ooma's instructions. Prior to my ooma purchase, I had been a very satisfied Vonage customer since November 2006. I still recommend Vonage to those who are unwilling to pay for ooma hardware, as they only recently raised their rate in all that time, by only $2/month, and it's still a fantastic deal compared to traditional landlines. However, ooma is even cheaper, or even free, depending upon how many features you want/need, so I made the jump and hope to never look back. Porting our number from Verizon to Vonage was a nightmare in 2006, and I have seen many people still have issues, although the phone companies seem to be slowly coming out of their self-induced fog.
I recommend that if you already have DSL attached to the phone number that you wish to port to VOIP, that you either ask for "dry loop" DSL, or if they don't seem to understand that, that you cancel your DSL while keeping your voice number active (or you won't be able to port it), then re-sign up for DSL or whatever high speed internet is competitive in your area, without attaching it to your phone number. Make sure your phone number is voice-only, completely unrelated to your internet service, and THEN you can activate ooma and begin the porting process. Porting to ooma costs $39.99, or is included free with a Premier subscription. I'm not sure if there will be issues by beginning the porting process before December 31st and completing it after, so you may wish to do this soon or ask questions of your current provider and ooma relevant to your particular situation.
Now, on to the subject of my review. There are many reasons why some people should purchase the new ooma Telo VoIP Phone System, and others should purchase the ooma Core VoIP Phone System. What I want to stress, right now, is that you choose to go with the Core, DO NOT buy the ooma Hub all by itself! You MUST buy the Core, which includes the Hub AND a Scout, even if you don't need the Scout, in order to retain ooma's original benefits.
Unlimited minutes with ooma is 5000 minutes per month. This is well over 2.5 hours of talking every single day, which the vast majority of regular users will never come close to. If you're trying to use it for business purposes, that's a whole other story. So if you'd like "unlimited" phone service, with free benefit-packed voice mail and no fees of any sort (other than original hardware purchase), then you should buy the ooma Core system while you still can. In ooma's online forums, ooma representatives have confirmed that people with the Core system who activate before December 31st 2009 will still receive the free voice mail, 60 day Premier trial, and will not be charged the new annual regulatory recovery fee of $11.75 that Telo users will now be paying. A person who activates or who has already activated their ooma Core system can purchase a year of ooma Premier before December 31st 2009 at the $99.99 rate, but the following years will be at the new annual rate of $119.99, still with no annual regulatory recovery fee. You can also, for an unspecified amount of time, purchase a "Lifetime" Premier subscription, for $349.99. This can be purchased on either the Core or the Telo, and covers that original equipment. If the equipment fails, you can extend your Lifetime subscription another ooma device, but it has to be the same type as originally covered, either Hub or Telo.
So if you are considering buying Lifetime Premier, then I recommend Telo, because it's more likely that equipment will still be around to replace your original equipment should it fail. While the optional Telo handset does optimize ooma's features, it is not necessary and you do not have to have the Telo handset for your ooma system to work. You can still use your original corded or cordless phone(s). This applies to ooma Core/Hub as well. If you are NOT going to buy Lifetime Premier, and ESPECIALLY if you do not wish to pay for phone service at all, then I suggest you buy the ooma Core. In contrast, if you buy just the ooma Hub, without the Scout, or if you buy the Telo, then voicemail will not be included for free. You will still get it with a Premier subscription, or it can now be purchased as a standalone feature for $49.99/year. This includes call screening (like an old-fashioned answering machine), notifications sent to your mobile phone if you desire, voicemail attachments sent to your email if you choose, a quick Do Not Disturb option, and a Send-to-Voicemail button.
I'm not going to list all the features because that's not only been done, but can be easily found on ooma's site. I will tell you what features that I personally enjoy, and why I'm a Premier subscriber instead of free. I love the voicemail screening ability, and the ability for my daughter to tell a caller that she's going to transfer them to my voicemail, push a button, and I don't miss an important message. I also love the Multi-Ring feature... I never have to worry about call-forwarding, because whenever someone calls my house, it rings my cell at the exact same time. One little annoyance here is that when I answer the call on my cell, that was originally placed to my home/ooma number, I have to quickly press "1" to accept the call, or the caller is disconnected. I don't understand the logic... If I have chosen to have it ring my cell, and I ANSWER my cell, then YES, I want the call! Why make me press another button at this point?
I also have it programmed to send people who have their Caller ID blocked to voicemail, without ever ringing my phone. I never liked the idea of completely blocking a call, so this is great! If it's important, then they'll leave a message, right? The Scout is not necessary, but if you wish, it can be used to provide you with your free second line (A Premier feature). If you are planning on getting a new phone number, instead of porting an old one, I recommend getting your free second phone number at the same time as your first, and this way they can possibly be sequential. I did this, and ended up cancelling the porting I had started on my old number, since I liked having sequential numbers, just like my family's cell phones. I used my old discontinued Panasonic KX-TG2622 2.4 GHz Digital Cordless Telephone with ooma, and then I purchased Panasonic DECT 6.0 Expandable Cordless Telephone (KX-TG6413T) (pre-Telo handset, darn it!) and both work wonderfully with ooma. I now have my old phone set hooked up to the second line. So if you get the Telo, maybe you decide on the free handset instead of porting option they're currently offering. It is troublesome changing your phone number with everyone, but I had no attachments to my old number so for me it was worth it. The second line and second phone number would have been much more useful to me in the past, pre-cellular, but it's included with Premier so I take advantage of the feature. One thing you may use that second phone number for is to give it out to all those businesses or people that you never want calling you, and never even hook up a phone to it! Stores, online shopping, creepy guys/gals at bars, etc...
Make sure when you set up your "service" address, that you use your actual home address! This is the address that will show up when you call 9-1-1 from your ooma phone, so this is NOT the place to enter your billing/mailing address. If you are concerned about 9-1-1 services being disrupted, obtain the direct 7-digit numbers for police/fire/medical dispatch in your area, post them wherever it makes sense, and program them into your phones' memory. You should also do this on your cell phone for whatever cities you find yourself in most often, and for the highway patrol dispatch center in your area. You will reach the exact person who can help you instead of being 1 or 2 transfers and retellings away, which can still happen when you dial 9-1-1 from a cellular phone. If it helps to assuage your fear about VOIPs and 9-1-1, I can tell you that I have unfortunately had to dial 9-1-1 for two medical emergencies and one police emergency during the time that I had Vonage, and my call went to the right place every time, because my address was loaded properly.
Hope that helps you in your decision-making process, and feel free to Comment. I do not work for ooma and have only been a customer for three months, so I may not have the answer you're looking for, but I will do the best I can to help you with any questions that you might have.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great product,
This review is from: ooma Hub - VoIP Phone Device with No Monthly Phone Service Bills (Electronics)I have been using ooma for 3 months now and the product has exceeded my expectations. I got it to stop paying monthly phone bills and save some money (which I have), but I was blown away by the Instant Second Line and Broadband Answering Machine features. With the Instant Second Line I have two lines on one number so my roommate and I never compete for the phone line. We can both be on separate calls at the same time. The Broadband Answering Machine gives me complete call control, by allowing me to send a call to voicemail while I'm on the call if I want the person to leave a message or I can activate the Do Not Disturb feature so that all calls go to voicemail without ringing. I didn't pay much attention to these features when I first did research on the product, but they really shine when you actually start using it. Best of all ooma works on every phone in my home, as long as you buy the scouts. This is usually not the case with other VoIP providers.
I highly recommend this product.
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