Ooma Telo mini review, available new for $149.99 (unlimited long distance at about $14.27 USD per month)

Posted by Paul Braren on Apr 10 2012 (updated on Mar 29 2014) in
  • Network
  • Reviews
  • I "deployed" two Ooma Telo VOIP devices in my home late last year, and went into "production" immediately. I left Vonage after 7 years because their prices kept creeping up, and I had some technical issues that recently that pushed me to make the switch. My total costs went from about $70 monthly for 2 Vonage lines, down to about $29 monthly for 2 Ooma lines. Those US prices include all taxes and surcharges.

    Here's the Ooma Telo quick start guide, and here's the full online manual. You can cancel at any time in the first 30 days and get your money for the purchase back, see details on account charges here.

    I try to only write about what I've tried first-hand. With a few months now behind me, and several hundred successful calls placed an received, I can now share my positive first-hand experiences. I realize many families are dropping "land lines" and/or VOIP phones for mobile phones and Skype/Google Chat, etc., but my phone use is heavy, so we're not at that point, not yet anyway. I prefer anything that enhances call quality over cellular, and the Ooma Telo delivers that, reliably.

    I had also briefly looked into Obihai and MagicJack Plus, but I decided to go with something that appeared simpler to set up, with a better likelihood of having a decent REN, and at least some level of support.

    Note that I'm using 2 Ooma Telo devices, with this particular combination of cable modem and router:

    The good:

    • For unlimited long distance, I went with Premier, Annual Subscription (you could go cheaper, read all rates here)
      cost for me for each Ooma Telo subscription was $119.99 per year, plus $4.27 in taxes/surcharges for me, your charges will likely, based on your location
      pre-paying a full year avoided $39.99 number portability transfer fee (from Vonage, in my case)
      after the initial cost of $300 for the 2 Ooma Telo refurbished devices (that appear new), this worked out to $14.27/month (per Ooma Telo device) total
    • Google Voice integration
      (placed calls automatically show my Google Plus phone number)
    • my traditional phone can be programmed with a speed dial key to type "**0" before I place a call
      this way, I can make my Ooma phone# show on CallerID for that call, rather than the Google Voice phone#
    • Personally maintained blacklists (for that telemarketers that won't go away)
      simply type in the phone number you never want to ring your house, ever again
    • Solid firmware (my Vonage V-Portal kept getting firmware updates that'd affect my call quality or internet quality, even if I requested a firmware lock)
      see a bit more about how I use 2 Ooma Telo phone lines, while maintaining excellent internet speeds and call quality:
    • reliable passcode recognition (teleconferences on Vonage V-Portal were problematic for years, often missing keys I'd press on my phone's keypad)
    • I'm ringing over 5 phones (corded) and one cordless base station, so the REN is equivalent to (or stronger than) the Vonage V-Portal it replaced

    The not so good:

    • I do wish they had a two line model (which Vonage V-Portal did have)
      each Ooma Telo uses about 6 watts
      talked to Ooma at CES, and doesn't look like any new hardware expected for all of 2012 (Ooma Telo is their new model)
    • Set up for 2 line households is for intermediate or advanced network administrators:
      but most folks would just buy one Ooma Telo and connect it between their cablemodem and router, which is a much simpler install (novice)
    • there may have been one hand-off hitch (from Vonage to Ooma) that made it so one particular not able to reach my Ooma lines (false number disconnected message)
    • a bit annoying that you can't use phone's "Flash" button to juggle 2 calls (you simply press 1 or 2 button on base station, or both 1&2 together to join the calls)
    • support not available on weekends

    I went with a refurbished Ooma Telo on $149.99 special from Woot late last 2011.

    You can call Ooma to get a refurbished Ooma Telo from Ooma for $129 here, but given a new Ooma Telo goes for $127.00 USD on Amazon here, that'd make more sense.

    You may be able to go lower on price or service, to find out, call Ooma Sales at 866-452-6662 or chat, consider asking for Luis Ryan, stating how you found him, and commenting below to let us know how it goes.


    Feb 10 2014 Update:
    For folks thinking about an Obihai OBi100 as an alternative, it seems bad news has arrived:

    Thursday, October 31, 2013

    Important Message About Google Voice and Your OBi Device

    Latest Update from Obihai on 12/31/13: Click Here Google Sets the Date for the End of XMPP with Google Voice

    Recently Google announced the end of support for XMPP based calling with Google Voice. This will happen on May 15, 2014 – that’s over 6 months from today. Since your OBi device uses XMPP to communicate with Google servers, the end of support will directly impact how your OBi device can be used with your Gmail account and its associated Google Voice phone number. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to use the Google Voice communication service to make calls using the phone connected to your OBi device.  Also, the ability to receive calls to your Google Voice number, directly from Google’s service, will not be possible.

    Mar 29 2014 Update:
    See my new article, Why I gave up on Ooma VOIP, and went back to cable phone service.