Top critical review
44 people found this helpful
Newer version is better; firmware upgrade boosts function
on August 14, 2010
Update: Ooma has released a new handset, which it claims has smartphone features, for about %60. I'm planning on purchasing after I see how it goes for others. It's my understanding it has a different battery technology, so hopefully the battery problem will no longer be an issue. The price is about 1/3 of what I have noticed here for the old one. I'm holding out for the new handset and wouldn't buy this one again.
I've had this handset about two years now, and I've been having serious battery problems for the last two months. It often discharges while in the charging cradle, so I have to disconnect the battery for a minute or two in order to get it to begin charging again, about once every week or two. In addition, outside of the cradle I am getting less than 15 minutes of talk time directly out of an overnight charge.
I was hesitant to purchase this product because of some of the prior reviews, but the people who had trouble seem to have the first handset version and also purchased before the firmware upgrades, which have significantly improved user experience. Upgrades have been frequent, and they are very easy to access from the menu on the handset. Simply select "handset setup" then "HS SW update" and you are directed to place the handset into the cradle while the update downloads. Simple, and achieves all the promised features some have said they couldn't access.
What we like best about this is that it has the feel of a quality handset. It is just the right weight and size in your hand, neither flimsy nor too bulky and is very pleasant to hold. I like the streamlined look and feel. It fits in the hand and next to the face perfectly. The velvety keys are soft against the face and you don't feel as though you are being jabbed by buttons, nor is there heat emitted like some handsets. The so-called "sharp" edges are not sharp at all, but merely angular and don't come into contact with the face. There is no danger of cutting your face or hands with them. Instead, they serve as a grip for the phone, so that it does not slide out of your hand despite having so many smooth, curved surfaces.
It syncs well with the Ooma Telo system, (which you need to purchase so it will function,) so that you can enter your phonebook items online, then easy download them to the handset with one click. You can screen your calls, as you can set it to function like an answering machine, to broadcast the caller's message in order to decide whether to answer or not - the advantage being that it is portable. You can use the unit to retrieve your voice mail from anywhere in your home. If you purchase the Premier Service for $9.95 a month, you can customize ringtones and assign virtual numbers so that each person in the household will get a personalized ring from his/her callers. The first virtual number is free; after that there is a charge for additional numbers.
The light up keypad is easy to read and mostly easy to use. The most difficult part about it is one needs to get used to where to push the navigation ring in order to access different features. It's also a bit difficult to compress the menu key because of its position and size. It has a "recall" feature which will bring up many previously dialed numbers - rather like the "redial" key but you can see each of the numbers before you dial, and storage goes far beyond just one number or even one day's worth of calls. If the number you've called is in your Telo phonebook, the label you've used will also appear on the recall list, such as "Mom cell."
It took me a little while to "get" how to search the phonebook, as it seemed to come up with unrelated numbers, but you can enter more than just the first letter of the name, and the more letters you enter, the narrower and more on target the search becomes.
The worst part of the set is the screen. It is not too bright and not that easy to read. It's not impossible for these older eyes, either. Just a bit more dated than one would expect. Also it is not white on black as pictured, which would have been great. That's the only inaccuracy in the picture and I can't figure out why they did that. The only other difference in appearance is there is no Ooma symbol on the headset, and it just says, "Ooma."
With features like "instant second line" which, if you purchase the Premier service, allows you to pick up the phone and get a dial tone even if your resident phone hog is already on the line, the conveniences far outweigh the drawbacks. The handset also will display the name and number of the person that phone hog is talking to, and gives you an option to join the conversation or use the virtual second line.
If you purchase Premier service, you can assign an actual number to the virtual second line. It can be in any area code in the country, so if most of your family lives in a different area code, you can choose one local to them to give them a break on fees to call you! Hard to beat!
There is also a log list of calls made to or from the handset, and when you select a call to display, it will also display whether the call was missed or not, and if not, the length of the call.
What is neat about "MyOoma" online system for setting up and using your handset, is there is a complete log of all your calls to and from the headset, and the "Dashboard" keeps a running total of the top five callees or callers to your phone, with the number of minutes displayed beside their names, and a complete running total for the month's usage - a lot easier to access and use than say, our T-Mobile online log, which is a nightmare compared to this. You will know at a glance who is talking the most to whom, and whether their usage is out of hand.
Call clarity is great. The only time I've had a problem hearing someone is if there is something going on at their end.There is a walkie-talkie like lag at times if both are trying to talk at once, you won't hear anything while you are both trying to talk, which can be pretty annoying.
All in all, the phone gives you the best of the Ooma service at your fingertips, and that's a good thing.