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Ooma Telo VOIP System Review

by retirebyforty on March 30, 2012 · 19 comments

in saving tips

ooma telo calling review

Ooma Telo

Are you still paying for a land line? If you are already paying for internet, you should consider one of the many VOIP options to see if you can save some money. The good people at Ooma sent me their latest Ooma Telo to review and I like it quite a bit.

You can win a Telo by entering our April Giveaway! Don’t miss this chance.

The Unit

The Ooma Telo is a sleek modern looking piece of telephony equipment. It looks great next to our LCD TV and will go with pretty much any décor. The controls are operated by touch like a touch pad and feel expensive.

Getting up and running

It took me less than 5 minutes to activate the Telo on Ooma’s website. I just input the activation code found on the bottom of the unit, picked a new phone number, and gave them my contact information. After that, I just plugged in the Telo to the internet connection and the unit took a few minutes to boot up. At this point, the Telo couldn’t connect to the internet so I reset both the Telo and my cable modem. When everything booted up again, it was able to connect and I could make a call from my home phone. All in all, it was very easy and most people can do this.

You also have the option of porting your old phone number if you’d like. It will cost $39.99 to do this or you can sign up for the premier plan ($119.99/year) and get the old number ported for free.

Unit Pricing

You can pick up an Ooma Telo from Amazon for about $199. This is a bit pricey, but if you are paying $45 for a land line, you’ll recapture this cost in only 5-6 months. The thing I like most about Ooma is free long distance calling in the US. I always hated paying for the long distance calls.

Monthly Cost

Ooma Core – Ooma charges a nominal price to cover taxes and fees. Enter your zip code here to see how much it would cost. The 408 area code in Northern California will cost $3.78/month. That’s not bad for a phone line with free U.S. long distance calling, call waiting, caller ID, and voicemail.

Ooma Premier –  The $9.99/month or $119.99/year premier plan offers features like three way calling, call forwarding, and voice-to-text messaging. See the full list of additional features here. When you first sign up with Ooma, you will have 60 days free on the premier plan. After that, you will need to pick which plan you want to stay with.

Voice Quality

I called a few people through the Ooma Telo and the voice quality is very good. This really depends on the quality of your internet connection, though. Check Ooma’s Test Your Speed page (#2 tab) to see if your internet connection will work.

International calling

You can call another Ooma device for free. So if my parents have an Ooma Telo in their home in Thailand, I wouldn’t have to pay for international long distance calls anymore. They don’t have good internet connection though so it still wouldn’t work. Perhaps in the future when fast internet connection is more affordable, it will be something to try. Anyway, I can still use Ooma for international calls and a call to any numbers in Thailand will cost 3.3 cents/minute. That’s actually pretty good. I usually pay around 5-8 cents/minute for a calling card.

Summary

I really like the Telo. It looks great and it works well. There are other options out there, but I like the Ooma Telo because it is a standalone unit and you don’t need to turn the computer on for it to work. Once I finished setting it up, it is just like a small answering machine. I tried SKYPE and it didn’t work for me for some reason. The video kept dropping out and the voice quality wasn’t good.

I think if you are paying anywhere near $30/month on your phone line, you should consider Ooma. The Telo costs more upfront, but it will save you quite a bit in the long run. Check back next week and enter our April giveaway to win an Ooma Telo for your own use.

Disclaimer: I have been using the old Ooma Hub for over 2 years now and I’m very happy with it.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Kurt @ Money Counselor March 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

Sounds intriguing. Can someone compare and contrast this with using Skype for phone calling?

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retirebyforty March 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

The Ooma Telo is a standalone unit and you can plug your regular phone right into it then make a call at anytime. With Skype, you need to have the computer on 24/7 to make and receive calls. You also needs to use a mic and speakers.
You can use Skype for free and buy more service (not sure?). The Telo is more expensive and has a monthly cost. Is there anything specific that you would like me to find out?

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J Bell April 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Skype sells several devices that plug into the router eliminating the need for a computer to be on 24/7.
I have a phone # with Skype in the 214 area code ($6/mo) and calls to it ring in my apartment overseas :-) – even if my computer is not booted up (no additional charge to me if they place the call).
Very happy with it!

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Steve March 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

I got a Obi a couple months ago. It only costs $50 instead of $200, and there are no monthly fees (unless you choose to pay a couple dollars a month to a SIP provider for e-911 service). I hooked it up to google voice for incoming calls. However, it hasn’t quite been seamless. There is some kind of misconfiguration or bug with our setup, the symptom of which is: more often than not, when we receive a call, the person on the other side can’t hear us. But if they hang up and call back it works fine the second time. Still, without knowing that the same problem would or wouldn’t happen with the Ooma, it’s hard to justify paying 4x as much for the same type of device.

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retirebyforty March 30, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I haven’t heard of the Obi and just looked it up on Amazon. I like that there are no monthly fee, but you still need the computer to be on right?
The Ooma is completely standalone, that’s what I like most about it.
You can try borrowing the Ooma from someone that has one to see if it works better. They have been around for a while and seems to have most of the bugs worked out.

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Steve March 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm

No, the computer does not need to be on. It plugs directly into your router (as I assume the Ooma does). You do need to jump through a few more hoops to set it up for yourself. It seems to be more of a DIY solution compared to the Ooma, though less so than some previous VoIP devices. (I can only say “seems to be” because I have only tried this one device.)

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retirebyforty March 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm

That’s pretty good then. I’ll read more reviews and see if other people have good luck with it.
My old Ooma Hub doesn’t have any monthly fee so I’m really happy with it for now. If it broke down, I will check the alternatives again.

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Melissa@PersonalFinanceJourney March 30, 2012 at 11:28 am

We have had an Ooma for four months now. For the most part I like it, but it definitely has some quirks. Right now, when I make any calls within our area code, the phone rings once or twice and then nothing. I have to call customer service. . .

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retirebyforty March 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Really? I haven’t had that problem. Perhaps you need to dial 10 digits? Or maybe you should try moving it closer to the modem. Hope you get it resolved.

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Don March 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Hmmm, I never heard of it before, sounds like a great simple, care free solution!!

Nice find!

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Dominique March 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

The Obi is really good! One-time charge for the box. No need to have a computer on as it connects directly to your router and telephone…and it sets up with Google Voice in about 5-10 minutes using the obitalk config portal. There is no 911 with Google Voice, so I use a second service (Anveo) on the alternate service provider settings. It only costs ~$10/year for 911 and it can be a back-up to GV. There are other services that the Obi supports as well. It’s sort-of like the VoIP version of an unlocked GSM phone.

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Thad P @ thadthoughts.com April 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

This is a great review. I have followed the Ooma for several years. I don’t have one, but the price certainly seems worthwhile if you need long distance service via a landline. Stand alone and ease of use are keys to a good voip product.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I’ve been using Ooma for a while now and I’m really happy with them. The voice quality is good and I don’t even notice that it is VOIP.

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Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter April 3, 2012 at 7:17 am

This thing looks pretty cool. The only problem is we require a land line for our alarm system. Makes options like this not possible.

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retirebyforty April 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Why can’t the alarm system use VOIP? I don’t know much about alarm system.

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Keith Flanagan June 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

I had the same problem, I called ADT and told them that I wanted them to set me up with a Cellular modem for my alarm. I threatend to cancel when they wanted to charge me $200 for the upgrade. After that, they installed for free and even lowered my monthly monitoring rate from $37.99 to $29.99 per month.

Now I have a stand alone alarm system, a lower ADT bill and no monthly phone bill. I work from home and OOMA works great. No problems for me.

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retirebyforty June 6, 2012 at 5:22 pm

That’s great! I’ll have to update the post with this info. Thanks.

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Investor Junkie April 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I tried out Ooma and hated it! We currently have a VOIP phone system in our house, but Ooma didn’t work with my firewall, the quality of the phone service sucked, and support is almost non-existant. Went right back to Costco. This is someone who knows tech so it wasn’t user error.

Skype IMHO is a better option.

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retirebyforty April 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Really? I had the opposite experience. Ooma works pretty well for us. I put it right next to the cable modem.

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