I love my Obi110, but had a couple of issues that made me want to check out the Ooma Telo. Here’s my comparison so you can decide for yourself which would be best for you.
The first device I tried was the Obi110, available from Amazon (affiliate link). Great little gadget, and it does give you absolutely FREE home phone service. Getting 911 service is optional, and at $1.50/month form CallCentric, it’s very cheap. Integration with Google Voice is a snap, and call clarity is very good, most of the time.
Here’s why I decded to switch:
- When someone invited me to a conference call with a free conference call provider, Google Voice simply would not make the call. It was a 1-800 number, so I really couldn’t understand why, but for whatever reason, Google Voice would not allow the call to go through. This left me with having to use CallCentric to make the calls. CallCentric does have low calling rates, but at the rate I was using them, it would cost me about $15/month, hardly FREE.
- My XBox kept kicking me out of Netflix. I tried calling Netflix, Microsoft (XBox), and Time Warner, but no one could fix the problem. I hard wired the XBox into the modem, but still had the same problem. I even had Time Warner replace the modem. Seemed to help for awhile, but then the issue started again. Someone suggested that it might be my Obi110. I figured any device might cause this trouble, but no way to tell unless I tried for myself.
The Ooma Telo had great reviews, and was already high on my list, so I thought I would try it out. When I saw a refurbished model on Woot for $60 below retail price, I figured I should give it a shot.
What I like about the Ooma:
- The Ooma allows me to make those conference calls that I couldn’t make with the Obi110. They do make you listen to a message that says something like, “The number you are calling may try to get you to spend more money” and they direct you to a page on their website with more info. A little annoying, but they do connect the call.
- If you decide to use the Ooma to receive calls, you can listen to messages from the box or on http://www.my.ooma.com. You can download an MP3 of your messages.
What I don’t like about the Ooma:
- Ooma makes having e911 service mandatory, so there is a monthly charge even for the FREE version. Ooma bills you government charges according to your area. For me, it’s $3.75/month.
- Ooma doesn’t allow you to set up alternate phone services like CallCentric. There are Google extensions available with Ooma Premium, but not with basic service.
- The Ooma didn’t eliminate my Xbox/Netflix issue. I’ve given up on that issue for now. Some days seem worse than others. I think it may be a cable issue, but no one wants to claim it as their own.
- Ooma assigns a phone number to you (which you can choose from ones available). That’s OK if you need one, but I’d like to use my Google Voice number for everything. Although I can forward my Google Voice calls to my Ooma number, I can’t make outgoing calls from my Google Voice number without paying for Ooma Premium. This means that sometimes people call me back on my Ooma number and leave messages for me, which I don’t check nearly as often as Google Voice.
Having said that, Ooma Premium does have lots of cool features, including an instant second line where you can make two calls at once from different handsets on the same line. Additional features include: Three-way Conferencing, Multi-Ring, Back-up Number, Google Voice, Extensions (Telo customers only), Free calling to the provinces of Canada, Enhanced Voicemail, Do Not Disturb, Send to Voicemail, Call Screening, Voicemail Forwarding, Voicemail-to-Text, Community Blacklist, Anonymous Call Reject, 911 Alerts, Personal Number, Private Voicemail, Transfer Your Number, Call Forwarding, Free number transfer, Extended Warranty, Wireless Adapter or Bluetooth Adapter (Telo customers only).
TIP: You can get a cheaper annual Ooma Premium rate by calling customer service rather than ordering online.
With both devices, I have periodically noticed echo on the phone, or dropped calls. I experienced similar issues with Time Warner, so it may be with any VOIP service.
Bottom line: Both the Obi110 and Ooma Telo are great gadgets! If you don’t need premium features or if you don’t need to make calls that Google Voice won’t connect then the Obi110 is your best bet. If you decide to go with Ooma, you won’t regret that either!
TIP: To check if the Obi110 will make a call or not with Google Voice, first try it out through your computer using Google Voice. If the call won’t go through on Google Voice, it won’t go through with an Obi110 using Google Voice.