Friday, December 4, 2009

Ooma Review

In August, I bought a phone gadget called Ooma. You can go to their website to get a full exposure of what it is etc here. For me, I am using it for money saving cost for international calls between my parents and my family in US. We talk pretty frequently and I have been paying around $20-ish per month for long-distance international calls on my land line. So in a year, I amp paying around $300 for international calls and that's just me. If my mom calls me from Indonesia, I don't pay anything but she pays her international charge from her phone carrier.

Prior to this, I was considering other options such as Skype, Vonage (or any other VoIP solutions), MSN/YM web-cam chats, etc - but nothing seems to work as good as Ooma as a whole experience.

So, if you are calling internationally a lot and want to save some money, you may want to consider Ooma. Read my experience with it and why is it my solution of choice after the jump.

You will need a broadband connection for Ooma to be able to works as expected. The connection speed where I hooked up my Ooma with is pretty modest (768dl and 256ul), but so far it works pretty well as soon as the internet is not used up for heavy downloading.

Ooma will cost you around $200 up-front. Unlike Vonage or other VoIP solutions, which are using subscription model, Ooma actually sells you a device AND you do NOT need to pay anything else. You have the option to add more advance options stuff if you want (and you do have to pay for them) - but I don't need them - so I only pay $200 for the device and that's it. So right of the bat, Ooma is a CHEAPER solution in the long run compared to Vonage ($15 / mo).

But Ooma's website says it will charge you if you are calling internationally? Yes, that is right. What I did:

  1. Registered my Ooma under my name
  2. Gave it a local number (so area code is the same as my home phone, my cell, my wife's cell, and my office number)
  3. Setup the device at my home (very easy) and test it for several hours (or days if you want)
  4. Send the device to my parents and tell them how to hook it up with their broadband internet router
  5. Plug a cordless phone to the device.
This setup enables me to call my parents anytime without incurring international calling cost. If I call them from my home phone, it is FREE. If I call from my cell phone, I only lose my cell-minutes. If I call from the office phone, it's FREE. And ... they also can call me anytime for FREE.

    My experience with Ooma as a far as audio quality has been great. Only a few times that my mom would call me and the sound quality were like broken up - those were caused by my dad/brother downloading MS updates/photos/music from the internet. Once they stopped the download and recalled, quality back to clear and no delay. It is basically as good as calling from a land-line to another land-line locally; clear, no delay, and full duplex quality.

    Webcam/Skype kind of requires you to sit in front of a computer. To hook it up to a regular phone, you have to buy an extra device to connect and then maintaining the software, etc. I am ok with all that, but I don't think my parents is quite a tech-savvy to able to handle all that. Ooma is a stand-alone hardware, plug and play. No software, no computer, just plug into the router, connect your own phone, and voila!

    All in all, after 4 months of usage - I am very satisfied with Ooma and recommend you to use it if you have the need for frequent long distance calling like me.

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