ooma : Free home phone service

ooma1ooma_scout

Well what the hell is it and what has it got to do with Automobiles? Well, let’s get the second question out of the way, it has not much to do with cars but I don’t have a gadget blog so it will end up here! The first question is simply answered an internet phone system that seems to be done right. Here are some things that were gleaned off the Ooma site (www.ooma.com) The ooma hub is the larger of the two pictures, the ooma Scout is the smaller.

  • All the features you’ve come to depend on, like caller-ID, call-waiting, and voicemail
  • The reliability and crisp acoustic performance of a landline
  • A new number from any calling area in the US
  • The option to keep your phone number for a one-time fee ($39.99)*
  • Easy setup to get you up and dialing in no time
  • Voicemail notifications to your email and mobile phone
  • The freedom to hear your voicemail and control preferences online in the ooma Lounge
  • Low-cost international rates starting at a penny per minute
  • A 30-day money-back guarantee and an extendable one-year warranty
  • A free trial of ooma Premier
  • No Monthly fees

* If you do sign up for a year, they will waive the transfer fee

So after all that marketing speak I decided to give it a try. The Hardware arrived and was actually very nice. Not cheap crap, but nice style and well made. Followed a bit of start up direction to register the device before using on the website (very simple), and AT NO TIME DID THEY ASK FOR A CREDIT CARD OR MONEY! I selected an option to get a new phone number and I was done. Back to the hardware, I plugged in the ooma hub to the DSL modem, and the router to the ooma hub and powered it up. After some dancing lights, it settled down and the ooma tab had a nice blue glow from it. Looked good. They were also very smart as you get a control for adjusting the brightness of anything that is lit up. Nice feature. It also has a volume control for use when playing back voicemail messages as well as a host of other buttons for voicemail and a few other functions. Some are only available for the Premier service, but you get a free 60 day trial so you can see if it is something you do want to pay for (They hope so I’m sure). That was it for me, I just pulgged in a few things, and up and running it was!

My phone of choice was an old ATT/Bell System Touch Tone phone, yes, with a mechanical bell ringer. Would the ooma work with that old stuff? Yes, seems to work just fine! The first call out dials from the phone with a special ooma dial tone (a bit musical). Sound quality was very good, nothing to indicate I was on an interent phone. No glitches either and good reports of sound quality from the other end. The interesting thing is on the CallerID my number shows up as “ooma  ###-###-####” so you do carry a bit of the advertising, but hey, so far worth it. Receiving a call was as simple as picking up the phone, which my phone rang like Alexander Graham Bell had intended them to ;). Left a voice mail, saw the blinking ooma tab, then played it back from the ooma hub, then from the phone. You can play back the Voicemails on the phone like a normal system, play them back on the ooma hub (or Scout) with the VCR like keys, OR hit the ooma web site, log in, and you have a nice and SIMPLE voice mail interface that you can play your messages on.

That is about all I have got so far, I have to now read a bit more about the features, and how the ooma Scout device works. One of the things you can do is plug the ooma hub into your existing phone wiring (with ma-bell disconnected) and use the Scout device to have similar functionality as the Hub where ever you have a wired telephone. The Scout may be less then useful in some cases since may folks have cordless phones in the house these days, but where you want to separate the hub (which is likely near your internet connection) from the rest of the system. My set up might be just that, a wired cordless phone in another room, but still want the nice ooma hardware for voicemail and other controls so the Scout might just be perfect.

More as I use it, but the Free part is nice, although remember you still need the pay for the hardware, and the cost of the ooma hub and Scout kit was right about $200. I think you can get just the Hub if you don’t need extensions for less. Check the ooma site for more of the pictures and details. Also the setup instruction are a good way to see how easy it was to get it going.

8 Responses to ooma : Free home phone service

  1. Sandy January 9, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    Well, no one but me called on my ooma phone systems. The VOIP market has a lot of players it seems, as many of my friends seems to have Vonage, or other providers. The interesting thing is that they still seem expensive. The do have some cool hardware, but I like the ooma idea, very nice. I am going to have to get a 2 line wireless phone so I can have it on a second line so it will get more used then on the corded old phone that it is connected to. More as I use it. Also seems they are adding new features to the site, so always best to check for the most current info. One thing I will pass along was the best price I got on the Hub and Scout was from Tiger Direct. Also I don’t know if you can get the system with just a HUB only, which might make it for some people on the fence to get the unit. The Scout lists for about 70 bucks, so if the HUB only was available might move more sales.

  2. Sandy January 15, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Well, ran into a problem. Couldn’t send a fax, just didn’t seem to connect the the receiving end of things. Well after a minute on the online manual (I guess I could have actually read the one they gave) I found an option for sending faxes that increases the clarity or resolution so the fax will work. And work it did. The simple code that should be used prior to sending the fax is *99 and it is in the manual. On another ‘Blog’ I found similar findings and it also mentioned that you can go to one of the internal set up pages and jack up the bandwidth if your internet connection can support it. My was set already at the max and so not sure what the *99 did, but it worked. So all is well and so far so good.

  3. Sandy February 24, 2009 at 4:42 pm #

    I saw some photos of the new OOMA base and phone. It seems they are working a cordless system as the next generation. Will see how that goes. For now still very happy with the existing hardware. I have yet to switch over to the Premier service but will do so for a couple of reasons, one I would like to support the service, two, I can save money by canceling my ATT hard line and get the number moved over for free. So I will do it for sure…

  4. Sandy February 26, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    Well the email went to customer service 2 days ago and no response, will see how long it takes… I did call up and the call time was stated at 10 minutes but I decided since it was not such a big deal I would just fire off an email.

  5. Sandy March 31, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    Got one that said my line number change has been sent to in process. Target date was April 2nd I think. Will see how that goes.

  6. Sandy April 2, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Got an email on April 1 that said April 2 is the target date for the phone number change over, but they would let me know once it really happend. Seemed optimistic, and more like a automatic generated email with nothing really substantiating it other then it takes a few weeks to do a change. So will see if my account reflects it. I’ll wait until the end of the day before I send an email asking.

  7. Sandy April 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    Well as they said, April 2nd was the day, and it actually happened. I got an email from OOMA at the end of the day saying that the phone number had been transfered and that it was now active on my Ooma phone! I checked my account and found out that my selected new number had been removed. Hey, I get 2 lines, why kill that number? Tech support call. Get this they answered immediately! I asked the fellow if that was normal and he said yes, but he could get it back for me no problem! He did, was off the phone in 2 minutes. I did ask about support and he said they have just added a number of new people to help and it seems that it is working. Home phone working great, and I’ll again very much recommend OOMA!

  8. Sandy October 13, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    I think the long wait is over, OOMA has release their new phone system. http://www.ooma.com looks pretty good. I think they are still pending release of the the wireless headset part.

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