Most people try out an Internet telephone service and are immediately turned off because they experience choppy connection, where they cannot clearly hear a single sentence that the other party is saying.
While technology has advanced such that this becomes less of a problem, voice over Internet protocol services are still seen as unreliable. Such services are still seen as something you cannot entirely trust to handle a very important call smoothly and without problems.
This is where Ooma Telo comes in.
Ooma Telo is a landline device that you connect to your Internet connection. However, unlike other existing VoIP services, you do not pay a monthly service fee. You do have to pay monthly taxes and fees, but that amount is still significantly much lower.
For instance, if you live in Baltimore MD, your monthly cost would be $5.29; in Portland OR, that goes down to $4.23; and if you live in New York City, you pay $5.23.
Your savings do not stop there. If you often call abroad, you might want to check out their World Plan, which gives you unlimited minutes to more than 60 countries for around $18 per month.
They also have the World Plus package that gives you unlimited minutes to landlines in more than 70 countries and mobile phones in more than 40 countries for only $25.99 per month.
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How does it work?
These are the various technologies that make it possible for you to save while still having a reliable phone service that provides crystal clear voice calls:
- Advanced voice compression reduces the required bandwidth by 60% compared to run-of-the-mill VoIP services.
- Ooma prioritizes voice packets through your network, and because it uses up very little bandwidth, you can continue to use your Internet connection for other stuff without noticing a slowdown. What this means is that you can enjoy crystal clear and crisp calls while enjoying a YouTube video or updating your photos on social media.
- Ooma makes use of encryption technology that various governments use to encrypt classified information.
- Flexible Redundancy. To correct packet loss, Ooma employs algorithms that detect packet loss and then deploy similar packets that correspond to these losses. What happens is that even if your Internet connection is choppy, your voice call comes across very clearly.
Setting up your Ooma Telo
When you get your Ooma Telo device, you would need to register it at http://www.ooma.com by entering the activation code you find at the bottom of the device. Then you choose your telephone number or, for an extra $39.99 charge and a premium account subscription, you can use your current phone number.
Registration will also take you to a form where you have to give your full name, e-mail address, password, phone number, and answers to your chosen security question. You will also need to provide an address for 911 calls. After activating your device, you can now plug it in to customize your Telo.
Your device should come with a setup sheet that explains what you need to do next, which is connecting the device to your router using Ethernet and then connecting it to a landline phone and power source.
After you plug all of these in, you go online and continue your setup, then direct notifications and alerts to your mobile device or e-mail, and set up your privacy settings.
The Ooma Telo device
Unlike other existing VoIP devices, the Telo adapter does not come free with your plan. You can check it out here.
However, compared to similar devices, Telo has a speaker and an eye-catching design. The floral logo you see on top of it changes colors and you can use a wifi Bluetooth adapter to get rid of the Ethernet cable.
Mobile apps for iOs and Android
If you have an iOS or Android device, you can download the free Ooma Mobile App to make calls using your smartphone. This helps the fact that Ooma does not offer a softphone that you could use on your laptop or desktop computer.
Just enable the mobile client on your account and choose to allow the app to make or receive calls. If you have a premium account, you can also take calls on your smartphone using the app.
The app is quite well-designed and takes a small amount of space (12.8 MB for the iOS version and 17 MB for the Android version.)
Basic Service vs. Premier Service
You can get the Basic Service and get several features for free. For one, you can make outgoing calls using the Ooma Mobile app, enjoy free calls to anywhere in the U.S., enjoy lesser dropped calls, and get clear quality connections.
You can even pair it with Amazon Echo (link to full review) and have a voice-enabled virtual assistant place calls for you.
Other features under the Basic Plan Service include:
- Emergency assistance. Emergency 911 personnel will have your address and you get notified every time a call to 911 is made.
- Caller ID and call waiting.
- Affordable international calling. Even without paying $17.99 for the World Plan, you can call abroad for as low as 1.4c a minute.
- Access voicemail from anywhere using a browser or phone.
- Free in-network calling. You can call anybody using Ooma Telo for free no matter where they are.
- Answering machine and online call log.
The Premier Service, on the other hand, gives you a lot more features, including free calls to anywhere in the U.S., as well as Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.
You can also get a free second line, a backup number, voice mail monitoring, and three-way conferencing, blocking incoming call for unknown numbers, a do-not-disturb feature, forwarding, and others. You can enjoy the 60-day free trial for the Premier Service, but after that, you would need to pay $9.99 per month.
To help you make up your mind, the features included in each plan are
|Features||Ooma Basic||Ooma Premier|
|Online call logs||X||X|
|Online account management||X||X|
|One-touch voicemail access||X||X|
|Remote voicemail retrieval||X||X|
|Send to Voicemail||X|
|Do not Disturb||X|
|Voicemail forwarding using e-mail||X|
|Anonymous Call Blocking||X|
|Ooma Mobile calling||X||X|
|Ooma Mobile HD app||X||X|
|Ooma HD Voice calling||X|
|Instant Second Line||X|
|Custom Ring Patterns||X|
|Three-way conference calling||X|
|Enhanced Call Waiting||X|
|Google Voice Extensions||X|
Comparing Ooma Telo vs magicJack vs Basic Talk vs Vonage
Ooma Telo is the most expensive out of all the devices. Nevertheless, it is the only one offering a free service if you do not factor in the fees and taxes.
Also, even with the more expensive Premier plan, you only pay $9.99 per month. This is cheaper than Vonage’s $25.99 and equal to Basic Talk’s monthly fee. Only magicJack is cheaper, at only $5.
Comparing the features available, however, it is clear that you get more features with the Premier Service than any of its competitors. Check out the head-to-head comparison of these four services:
|Suggested retail price for hardware||$99.99 For the latest prices and discounts, check here||$29.99(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$59.99(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)||$79.99(For the latest prices and discounts, check here)|
|Monthly service charge (excl. taxes and fees)||FREE||$9.99||$5.00||$25.99|
|Premier service cost||$9.99||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Unlimited domestic calling||X||X||X||X|
|Account management via Web browser||X||X||X||X|
|Unlimited calls using mobile app||X||X||X|
|HD Voice Compatible||X|
|Do Not Disturb||X||X||X|
|Call forwarding / Multi-ring||X||X||X|
|MP3 Voicemail Forwarding||X||X||X|
|Instant Second Line||X|
|Blacklists to block unwanted callers||X|
|Compatible with Nest||X|
|Basic Service Cost after two years||$99.99||$269.95||$119.99||$703.60|
Ultimately, you get to save more with Ooma Telo while enjoying all the features that competitors do not offer.
What could be better
A softphone application that works with Ooma Telo is a must if it is going to compete with ViaTalk or Phone Power and other VoIP services, in addition to providing users with another way to take or place calls.
Moreover, a lot of basic features such as voice mail and call forwarding are offered only when you get the Premier plan. For a product that positions itself as a cost-saving device, the need to pay $10 per month for basic features seems contradictory.
The final analysis
If you are looking for ways to save on your phone bills, then there is no better product than Ooma Telo. The Basic plan it offers allows you to drastically cut down costs while the Premier Service allows you to get all the bells and whistles that power users want out of their landline.
It may not have a softphone available now, but the value for money, its extended range of features, and the ability to make calls on your smartphone more than makes up for it, guaranteeing that the Ooma Telo is a solid buy. Be sure to (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
Further read, What are the Best Ooma Telo Alternatives? Read here!
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!