Ooma's upfront costs may make you a little dizzy at first, but do the math over the long term. Once you buy the Telo hardware, all calls in the U.S. are free for as long as you use Ooma. And users report that the service and voice quality are very good.
The cost of the Ooma adapter, a.k.a. Telo, hardly sits in budget territory, but Ooma reviews assert the investment pays off. Users laud the overall quality of calls as well as the super-cheap cost, as in zero for calls within the U.S. with Ooma's basic plan. Of course, you'll still have to pay taxes and associated fees (remember, there is no free lunch). But never mind. Users are thrilled with the monthly savings on phone usage and their reviews at Best Buy say incoming and outgoing audio is on par with landline phones. Ooma also wins points in reviews for being easy to get up and running and for the generous feature set, even in the basic package. Some reviewers, however, including an expert at PC Mag, report a bit of choppiness in voice transmission. We also read a few comments about intermittent annoyances like service outages, misrouted numbers, and equipment failures.
Once you plunk down $150 for the Telo (we've also seen it on sale at Walmart and Best Buy for $120), the basic level of service is free and includes all calls within the U.S., voicemail, online call history, caller ID and call waiting, and voicemail access. International calls start at 1.4 cents a minute. For the $10-a-month premier service, you also get free calls to Canada, a second line, three-way conferencing, call forwarding and call blocking, and several voicemail features, such as voicemail-to-email forwarding. You can make emergency 911 calls with either package (a benefit not available with software-based VoIP, such as Skype), and you can port your landline phone number for a one-time fee of $40. Another $15 a month provides 1,000 minutes of calls to any of 61 countries.
Where to buy
For anyone who can swallow the upfront cost, Ooma delivers good, reliable, and cheap VoIP service. It serves either as a backup phone line or a replacement for a traditional landline. The month-to-month cost is next to nothing if you stick with the basic plan, while the premier service adds several more features for a very competitive price.