More and more people in today’s changing mobile landscape are making the choice to eliminate their landline phones. The additional cost and lack of use make it feel redundant and pointless. However, there are many people who live on the fringe of reliable cellular service, and if you’re one of them, NetTalk Duo or Ooma Telo might be right for you.
NetTalk Duo and Ooma Telo are companies that provide phone services through Voice Over IP, or VoIP (think Skype). VoIP technology allows you to use your internet connection to make and receive phone calls, and more often than not this type of phone option is cheaper than a landline option. To use either of these options you will need a reliable broadband connection, but unlike the previously mentioned Skype, you don’t need a computer to use them.
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Before we compare and review the two options for Voice Over IP, let’s take a quick look at how the technology works. The first thing you’ll have to have is a VoIP enabled piece of hardware specific to the company that offers the service. More often than not, these are called VoIP telephone adapters.
Once you have the adapter, all you have to do is connect it to your phone and current broadband modem or router. As previously mentioned, you don’t need to use your computer to make and receive calls. You’re going to use your phone the same way you always have, except now your calls will arrive via VoIP as opposed to through the landline.
With VoIP, you won’t lose functionality many landline companies provide, like voicemail, three-way calling, and call waiting, and while you do not need your computer to make and receive calls, you will need to access the provider’s website to register your account and provide your billing information.
That’s pretty much it. Now let’s take a look at how two of the most well-known VoIP providers, NetTalk Duo and Ooma Telo, compare to one another.
Both the NetTalk Duo and the Ooma Telo are simple and straightforward to set up. Each work by connecting to your router/modem, and then connect to your home phone. If you decide you want to make your VoIP service mobile, you can always connect directly to your laptop via a USB port and place calls with through a headset.
The suggested connected method for the Duo is through either a computer or router, and it can switch back and forth between the two easily. If convenience is a factor, the size of the Duo allows it to fit into your pocket easily. The Ooma Telo also can connect through a laptop, however, due to its size isn’t as portable as the Duo. It could, however, fit easily into a backpack or laptop bag.
The Ooma Telo connects to your router or modem via an ethernet port and your phone. If you decide to go the computer route, Ooma does offer a jack for that specific purpose. Its buttons and speaker might remind you of an old-school answering machine when playing back your voicemail. This feature lets you check your voicemail by playing it through the speaker, on the provider website portal, or on your phone.
If you are the type of person who likes to take advantage of upgrades, you might consider Ooma, which has a few available to its subscribers. One option is a Bluetooth connector which allows you to take phone calls coming into your mobile phone and send them to your home phone. Another upgrade is a Bluetooth/wifi adapter that lets you connect your phone wirelessly to your broadband network instead of being connected to your router.
A few other options include an HD2 Handset, a device that offers a full-color screen along with HD voice, and the Linx which allows subscribers to connect via wireless to another landline phone.
NetTalk’s hardware consists of its wifi equipment, which is a device that resembles a flash drive, but in reality is your phone adapter. Just like its counterpart, the NetTalk adapter connects to your landline phone and the other to your modem or router. Additionally, the Duo adapter has the ability to link to a PC or work via wifi. If you’d rather bypass the wifi capable devices, NetTalk does offer a different, non-wifi model.
The Ooma Telo has a few different monthly options provided to their customers. Each option contains various features commonly found in VoIP packages.
Basic subscribers get the following from Ooma:
- Caller ID
- Caller ID Customization
- Online portal access with voicemail
- Call logs in online portal
- Call Waiting
For Premier package subscribers, these features are included:
- Three-way Calling
- Call Forwarding
- 411 (includes usage fee)
- Google Voice/Hangouts Integration
- Alternate Numbers
- Enhanced Caller ID
In addition to these features, Ooma also provides a mobile application which is available on both the iOS and Android marketplaces. Subscribers using the Basic package will be charged on a per minute basis, while those subscribed to the Premier package are granted unlimited inbound and outbound calls as long as the call is domestic. This is a free application, but will not work without a subscription to a VoIP provider.
NetTalk offers a free year of service and then asks for a minimal commitment from there. From a subscription level, NetTalk only provides its users one tier, which provides the features listed here to its subscribers:
- Three-Way Calling
- Call Waiting
- Speed Dial
- Ring to Mobile Phone
- Caller ID
- Call logs in online portal
- Voicemail in online portal
Like Ooma, NetTalk offers its subscribers a mobile application at no cost, available for both iOS and Android. NetTalk takes the extra step and provides a Kindle application for its users as well. Subscribers can make unlimited domestic outbound calls, but will not have the ability to receive calls. Users with PCs will also be able to use NetTalk to make audio or video calls. However, this functionality is not available on Macs.
NetTalk also provides the ability to use SMS testing for its subscribers, a feature unavailable on the Ooma Telo. However, Ooma Premier customers have the capability to sign-up for voicemail transcription for a monthly fee, a feature which the NetTalk Duo cannot natively support.
Portability is one of the few categories where there is a clear winner. While both the NetTalk Duo and the Ooma Telo are portable devices and function with any broadband connection, only the Duo provides wifi capabilities built-in. This capability requires an upgrade fee for service with the Ooma Telo.
The NetTalk Duo is a small and condensed device, which will slide easily into a variety of places, including your suitcase, backpack, purse, or your pants pocket. Even though the Ooma Telo is a small device, its shape does not lend itself to storing as easily as the Duo.
NetTalk offers its subscribers two options for international calling. The first tier lets users make and receive unlimited calling to Puerto Rico and Mexico, while moving up to the second level provides access to sixty countries. You also have the option to pay on a minute-by-minute basis if you’d rather not sign up for a yearly subscription. Calling Canada is part of your basic plan, and of course calls within the same network are free.
For international calling, the Ooma Telo offers the ability to dial sixty-one countries to both its Basic package and Premium package subscribers. If you choose not to enroll in a package, you still can make international calls but will incur a connection fee for each call. Just like the NetTalk Duo, there are no charges for calls within the Ooma Telo network.
Fees and Contracts
To port your landline number over to Ooma, you’ll incur a fee unless you subscribe to their Premium plan, which results in Ooma waiving the fee. NetTalk also requires a fee to port your number over, although the pricing is different for US and Canadian numbers. Both services require no charge if you decide to merely receive a brand-new number as opposed to keeping your current one.
NetTalk provides its subscribers with fifteen hundred minutes each month as part of its reasonable use policy, while Ooma’s policy limits its users to five thousand minutes. Many complaints surrounding NetTalk suggest that the VoIP provider does not provide the appropriate number of minutes each month to truly be “unlimited.”
Each provider offers a thirty-day full refund if you decide their service is not the right fit for you. NetTalk will take back devices between thirty-one and sixty days but will take off a restocking charge for their trouble. Once you cross the sixty-day threshold, NetTalk will not provide a refund and will charge between a 25% and 50% cancellation fee if you cancel between thirty-one and sixty days.
If you choose to cancel your service with Ooma, they will provide a refund if you have had service less than thirty days, and will deduct shipping costs from it. The provider will not refund you for any unused minutes or services upon cancellation.
NetTalk offers its subscribers the ability to log email tickets twenty-four hours a day, and also provides a live chat option on its site, which is available Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm EST. Phone support is also available to subscribers during the same times as the live chat. However, you are forced to dig around the website to find the number.
Unfortunately, NetTalk customer service does not live up to its name. The number displayed on the site states that it is for business purposes, giving the impression that you must be considering a partnership with NetTalk to call. This is not the case. One website which provides ratings for customer service, GetHuman.com, shows most users waited to talk with a NetTalk representative for over forty minutes.
By comparison, contacting customer support for Ooma was much less frustrating. Searching Google provided the customer support number, appearing in the results near the top of the list. Ooma provides live support Monday through Friday, 5 am to 5 pm PST and 8 am to 5 pm PST on the weekend. You also have the ability to chat with a representative twenty-four hours a day.
We’ve talked about many of the features and benefits, as well as some of the drawbacks of each VoIP provider. Let’s take a look at how they compare to one another side-by-side:
If you’re the type of person who wants to maximize their money and look for the best bang for your buck, the initial investment and monthly charges with the Ooma Telo are the better options. However, if you’re looking at choosing a provider from a long-term perspective, the NetTalk Duo is probably your best bet.
In regards to features, the NetTalk Duo is the better option, as it provides more benefits at no-cost to you than the Ooma Telo. That said, the addition of a second line with the Premier package is a great point in Ooma’s corner. One last factor, which could be the difference you’re looking for, is that the NetTalk application is available on Kindle, while Ooma does not provide this functionality.
Both the NetTalk Duo and the Ooma Telooffer similar sound quality, and each will successfully provide your home with VoIP service. Based on these similarities, you’ll have to decide as to which features are more important to you.
The primary differences between the two providers are cost and customer service. You’ll need to decide which is more important: Being treated well by your VoIP provider and having support whenever you need it or sacrificing support in favor of saving a few dollars each month.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!