Technology Tool – Ooma

I’m on vacation this week and so we are having the worst weather of the summer! Oh well, gives me more time to write this blog. I like to write about tools I am actually using because I feel confident in my recommendations of them. This week I want to introduce you to VoIP tool Ooma.

I came across this almost by accident, one of those emails from Amazon recommending new electronics. I was initially about to delete it, but since I had never heard of Ooma I decided to investigate.

What Is Ooma?
Ooma uses your Internet connection to make phone calls. This means you can get rid of that nasty expensive land line that you don’t use much!

How Does It Work?
The really great thing about Ooma over alternatives you might have heard about, like MagicJack or Vonage, is that it let’s you use the current phones. The actual Ooma box sits between your Internet line and your router. Then you can plug in your current phone and you can use it just like you had plugged the phone into your land line jack. If you have a wireless setup with multiple handsets connected they will work just the same.

How Is Call Quality?
I have been using Ooma at home for over a year now and can say the call quality is great. Since the Ooma box sits between the Internet and router, it is able to monitor line activity and maintain call quality even if there are movies being streamed on your Internet line. When you pick up the phone there is a little jingle noise that let’s you know you are using Ooma.

How Much Does It Cost?
All US and Canada calls are free! The actual Ooma box varies in cost, currently about $200 – $250 depending on where you purchase it and coupons available. Since I bought the package last year, I pay no monthly fee. Now there is a monthly fee to cover the taxes and federal fee – think it is $3.50 a month. For international calls you can purchase a plan which is a good deal if you are making lots of calls. I, however, just use the prepaid option which still gives me calls to UK for 3.2c per minute – on par with calling cards I used to use.

Can I Keep My Current Number?
When you sign up for service you can also purchase the number porting service which allows you to port your current number to you Ooma phone service. Otherwise, you will be assigned a new number. What would be smart to do would be port your number to your Google Voice account and then have it forward your calls to your Ooma and cell numbers!

What Services Do I Get?
Ooma has a Premier monthly package you can subscribe to for $9.99. This gives you the ability to forward calls to another number, add more lines, etc. The basic service I have gives me caller ID and the Ooma answer machine. This does me fine and I have had no reason to upgrade to the other package.

When you buy Ooma in the box you get the main box and what they call a scout box. The scout let’s you use Ooma from any other room. As I have wireless handsets around the house I didn’t need it for this. I do have satellite TV service though which requires a constant phone line connection. I hooked up Ooma main set in my electronics cabinet (where I hide the modem, router, wireless router and big bulky electrical strip) and then put the scout box in the TV room and also use it as the answer machine. Honest, it wasn’t that complicated, but I like to have everything gadgetized in my house!

Answer Machine?
Yes, you get the answer machine, but even better it the Ooma Lounge which is the online account management piece. Here you can set up your email address and when someone leaves you a message on the answering machine you will get an email! You can either dial your phone number and prompt through to listen to the message of go to the Lounge online and listen to it there. Nothing worse than getting home and hearing a message to call someone, but now it’s too late. This way you can get immediate notification to check your messages.

Where Can I Buy Ooma?
Best Buy locations now carry Ooma packages, or you can get them from Amazon. Current Ooma users usually have refer a friend coupons that you can use to get a discount too.

I would highly recommend Ooma to anyone and can’t believe it is not more popular – probably because they don’t invest in advertising quite like Vonage and MagicJack. Well I am quite happy to give them a free plug here: http://www.ooma.com

Oh, I almost forgot, they have an Ipad add that let’s you make calls anywhere using your Ooma account from your Ipad – with the built in speakers and microphone!

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3 responses to “Technology Tool – Ooma

  1. Interesting product this Ooma. Good work on reviewing it.
    I’m wondering if the biggest competitor here is not MagicJack, but more applications like Skype. Sure, nothing beats being able to use a real phone without a computer. However, Skype gives me a video phone.
    I guess it comes down to how technical your friends and family are. If they can handle running an application like Skype, the cost and quality are very competitive.

    • Yes, I use Skype too, but as an option for replacing the landline it works great. I have Skype and tried it out a bit, but found the quality could be patchy. I also use Yahoo IM which let’s you do the same thing and again it is fine when I am in the office and have a PC right there, but for sheer convience Ooma just fits! No need to check if the other person is online, just call ’em! Google Voice is an option I have used too, but same drawbacks.

  2. I’ve had this for 3 weeks now and it works flawlessly with our FiOS. We now save a little over $30/month on our cable bill.

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