ooma : Free home phone service
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.