Customer Review

470 of 482 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those with limited-minutes mobile plans. Has great support. (updated 3 May 2012), August 16, 2011
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This review is from: OBi100 VoIP Telephone Adapter and Voice Service Bridge (Electronics)
***Update: 15 Sep 14***
GOOGLE VOICE IS BACK!
After some issues with Google's support for Google Voice/OBI integration...OBI now apparently has GOOGLE VOICE support once again! I moved over to another SIP provider (which was still dirt-cheap) during the past few months when GV wasn't "officially" supported...but I will look at going back to GV now that it's apparently supported again. 3+ years later...and my OBI100 is still going strong.
*Original reviews below*

Background/usage:
Approximately 2 months ago, I finally made the jump to buy both my wife and I smart phones. The price for the devices themselves has never really been an issue, but I could never justify such pricey monthly subscriptions. $80+/month? Each?? No way!! When I heard that Virgin Mobile had the LG Optimus with unlimited data/text available for just $25/month, the barrier had been broken. I could have one for myself and another for my wife, and we would actually be cutting our monthly cost. Buttt...300 minutes only? Ouch. Not really an issue for me, as I'm not a big talker...but the wife can go through 300 minutes in a week, never mind a month. What to do?

Enter the Obi100.

Using Google Voice and the Obi100, we're able to use a single number that rings our home phone and her cellphone. When she's home, she picks up the home phone. Using the home phone doesn't use any of her plan's minutes. When she out of the house, she uses the cellphone. As a stay at home mom, she's typically at home to use the obi-connected phone...so she has not come anywhere close to her 300 minutes (so far). So...that is why this was a great investment for us.

Setup:
Setting the Obi up can be a bit of a headscratcher. The documentation included is a bit on the nebulous side. I'm fairly competent on home electronics and networking, so my first instinct was to log directly into the Obi and try to set it up. So I pulled the IP of the obi using the connected phone (picking up the phone and dialing ***1 get the IP) and logged in. Wrong move. As far as I can tell, most installs shouldn't even require you to log directly into the obi. All of the setup can(should?)be done through the "obitalk" website. Once I realized this, the setup went smoothly.

Problems:
2 months went by without any real problems. There were a couple of call drops...but I can't say it was attributed to the obi itself.

Then one day upon my return home from work, my wife told me that the "house phone" wasn't working. I immediately began troubleshooting. Eventually I was able to realize that the obi wasn't pulling a IP via DHCP from my router. The Obi had no IP address. Many various resets of the obi/router later...still no luck. So, I tried a static IP address. Still nada. My obi was hosed, unfortunately. So, I emailed Obi Support on a Friday night. They emailed me back on Saturday morning and eventually called me directly to take me through some trouble-shooting steps. Still nothing. After consulting with their engineering department, they decided to mail me a replacement, which arrived on Monday afternoon (quick!). The replacement was up and running within minutes.

Bottom line:
I'm a happy customer. The Obi is impressive technology at a great price, with great potential as a money-saver provided you integrate it into your overall communications plan. It can be more than a house-phone landline replacement. It can also supplement your cellphone-plan in certain situations. If you can cut your landline phone altogether, AND reduce your cellphone plan to a cheaper plan by utilizing Google Voice's call-forwarding abilities and an Obi...this device will pay for itself many times over in a short period of time.

*****update: 3 May 2012*****
It's been quite some time since my original review...so I figure it's time for an update. The replacement Obi100 I received from Obihai has performed flawlessly, with no dropped calls and no missed calls that weren't caused by internet outages. Obi has come out with several software updates during this timeframe. Software updates are downloaded/installed by picking up the phone and dialing "***6". If there is an update, the automated voice says so...and then you simply hang up the phone to have the Obi download/install the firmware and then restart itself. It takes only a minute or two, and I have never had any problems during the process.

Also since my original review, and perhaps more notably, I moved to a new state and purchased a new home out in a rather rural area. The only internet service I could get was DSL with a max download speed of 6 megs/sec...and an upload of 768k. Painfully slow by my standards. I was actually concerned about what effect it would have on my Obi. But, get this...it seems to actually perform BETTER than it did on my ~20meg Cable Modem at my previous house.

Don't overestimate the bandwidth this thing requires. The Obi (VOIP in general?) seems more reliant on low-latency connections (low "ping" times) as opposed to overall throughput. My DSL now pings at ~50ms, where my old Cable Modem connection was ~200ms. There is noticably less latency in the voice as a result. That being said, if you have a router that supports QoS, and have the skills to use it, it would certainly be a good idea to prioritize the Obi's traffic to reduce the effects of network congestion on it.

Still, even if you are stuck on a "slow DSL", give this thing a try. It's pure magic, especially from a cost-savings perspective.

One final thought: If you are going to rely on the Obi for critical calls (emergency, business-related, etc)...you may want to invest an Uninteruptable Power Supply (UPS). It's essentially a battery backup in case your power goes out. Attaching your cable/DSL modem, your router, your Obi, and your phone to an UPS will allow you to continue making/receiving calls during power outages (until the battery runs out, of course).

----------
Another update: It's now been 16 months that I've been an Obi user. Still a happy customer...and wanted to display the math of how this is really a no-brainer. Using the Obi enabled my wife's Virgin Mobile plan to use the 300 minute plan instead of the 1200 minute plan. That's a saving of $10/month ($160 in 16 months). Also, we were able to go without the one-and-only land-line phone service when we moved to our new house...and used the Obi instead. That was $50 a month ($50 x 12 = $600).

Doing the math...utilizing a $43 obi has saved my family $760 (and counting) over the past 16 months. $$$
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 30 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 20, 2012 7:56:40 AM PDT
John Smith says:
Thanks for the detailed review. To follow up: Now that you've used it for some time, do you still use it as your primary "house phone" and do you still like it the way you used to when you posted this review? Any updates to your original review, like any service outages that you ran into? Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on May 20, 2012 8:41:55 PM PDT
K. Krueger says:
John: yes, the Obi is still our primary home phone. In fact, it's really our only way of communicating at our new house...since we don't get any cellphone reception there. Also, yes...still like it, and recommend it without reservation to anyone looking to cut their expensive homephone service.

Posted on Feb 25, 2013 8:52:17 AM PST
E says:
Great review! Thanks.

Posted on Mar 26, 2013 9:23:36 AM PDT
upatnite2 says:
When you're out of the house, and google voice forwards the call to your cell phone, is the call using the virgin mobile minutes, or does it ring through an iPhone/Android app that works like the Viber app and strictly uses data, and not minutes?

Posted on Apr 22, 2013 7:03:06 AM PDT
V. Ballinger says:
AWESOME! Thanks for the detailed review. I am joining in and we are getting rid of our cable/phone bundle all together. I am only keeping my high speed internet. I am looking forward to better service and of course, saving money!

Posted on Jun 2, 2013 9:29:28 AM PDT
Nick says:
Hey, I just wanted to say thanks for your detailed review that included crucial information needed to make a purchase decision. I have Clear 4g WiMax internet and was concerned about call quality due to 6-9 MBPS down/1 MBPS up speed caps. However, I too have latency typically in the 30-60ms range, so I'm going to give it a try. Your experience was uniquely similar to mine and after an hour of searching, yours was the only information that was relevant to my situation and provided detailed, insightful input. Thank you very much!!

Posted on Aug 30, 2013 5:22:52 PM PDT
I've been reading about this thing today... if you still have lots of data but limited minutes on your mobile, you might be interested that makes smartphone apps that can make VoIP calls through your existing obi account. Your wife might be able to start using the app to talk and eliminate voice minutes altogether. http://www.obihai.com/obiapps

Posted on Sep 17, 2013 12:43:54 PM PDT
Hi, how much more a month do you need to pay because you don't have a land line? Most ISP's will charge you more for naked dsl if you don't bundle with their services. Thanks

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2013 10:42:57 AM PDT
K. Krueger says:
Brett,
Sorry for the late reply. To answer your question, I don't technically have a "naked" DSL. I do actually have a land line...but it's pay-per-minute (10 cents/min) with no baseline monthly fee. Since it is never used, I have no landline payments.

Posted on Nov 22, 2013 8:54:41 AM PST
Thank you for letting us know about the Obihai Google Voice issue. What a disappointment on Google's part.
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