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OBi202 Review: Turn Google Voice Number or Cell Phone into Home Phone

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The OBi202 turns a Google Voice number and/or a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone into a home line letting users talk on their regular home phone.

With a few simple configuration steps, it’s easy to use a free Google account instead of paying the phone company.

Plug the OBi202 box into a network router via a regular Ethernet cable. Setup an account at www.obitalk.com and let it find the device after entering the device details. Attach Google Voice to ObiTalk and the OBi202 is ready to make and receive calls via the Google Voice number. Plug in a regular home phone and make calls over Google Voice with a standard phone.

OBi202

OBi202 Wireless Functions

Take the OBi202 a step further with one of two optional USB adapters. The company sells a USB Wi-Fi adapter. This lets users connect the box to their Wi-Fi network and frees up an Ethernet port. Put it near any power outlet in the house without needing a phone jack. The phone works in any room with a decent Wi-Fi signal.

The other USB adapter adds Bluetooth to the OBi202 box. Connect a cell phone and make calls using a regular phone over the cell phone’s wireless account. It behaves like a Bluetooth headset. Switch back to the cell phone by tapping the phone’s headset button to turn it off.

OBi202 diagram

Responsive Customer Service

At first, the hardware didn’t work properly with the new iPhone 5, but a quick firmware update from OBihai fixed that. The Samsung Galaxy S3 connected without any issues. OBihai impressed me with their quick response after I reported the iPhone 5 incompatibility. Get all the details at OBihai and read the technical details in this informational PDF.

Why Buy OBi202?

Why would someone want such a setup? First, it cuts down on costs. The device costs $72 from Amazon. The Wi-Fi adapter or the Bluetooth adapter each adds $25 at Amazon. Dumping Vonage, which only costs $20/month, saves the user nearly $170 without either adapter or $120 with both. After two years the device pays for itself multiple times over.

Second, the device adds the option to use a Google Voice number for a second line thanks to two phone ports on the OBi202. Add a free fax line or second phone line. Many people own a multifunction printer with fax built-in that goes unused. Sure fax feels like a relic from the last century, but sometimes a person needs one for legal or business purposes.

Finally, we dumped our home line through the cable company and bought the iPhone 5. My wife didn’t like that the phone didn’t ring throughout the house anymore, since I often leave the phone on my nightstand. Thanks to the OBi202 and a cheap wireless home phone, the problem’s gone.

OBiON Mobile and PC Apps

OBihai offers OBiON, an iOS and Android app that lets users log into their ObiTalk account and call other OBiTalk users via the app saving precious cell phone minutes. Get one for a family member you talk to a lot. It could save both parties some money or free up some minutes. There’s also a PC version of OBiON.

Other VOIP Services

OBiTalk works with more than just Google Voice and a Bluetooth cell phone. Here’s a list of the VOIP services supported.

  • Anveo
  • Broadvoice
  • Callcentric
  • CallWithUs
  • Engin
  • Google Voice
  • InPhonex
  • RingCentral
  • Sipgate
  • Vitelity
  • VoicePulse
  • voip.ms
  • VOIPo

Recommendation

I’m pretty pleased with the OBiTalk service. There’s just one little glitch. When answering a call it takes a second or two to connect the home phone to either Google Voice or the cell phone. Other than this minor annoyance OBiTalk works great.

OBihai fixed the iPhone 5 incompatibility just days after I reported the issue. That’s pretty responsive.

The OBi202 is definitely worth the cost for users that want a home phone without a monthly bill.

Kevin loves notebooks, tablets, gadgets and photography. He grew up with computers starting out on a Vic 20 and Commodore 64. The first computer he owned himself was an 8086 Compaq Deskpro. His foray into tablet computing began when he bought a Samsung Q1 Ultra. The smartphone market opened up for him with his Palm Treo 600.

4 Comments

  1. Thor

    10/30/2012 at 4:03 pm

    I have used the obi110 for about 9 months and it works great. No problems. My Nettalk keeps needing to be rebooted every couple of weeks. Though the problem could be my old wrt54g router.

    I plan on getting the obi202 and Bluetooth adapter soon. What I need to find out is if it offers distinctive rings for both cell lines. The Panasonic link to cell handsets do.

    Also worth mentioning is GV does not offer 911. But I have read there are VoIP providers that offer it for around $1.50 per month.

  2. Rajeesh Patel

    10/30/2012 at 6:28 pm

    I just use the $12.95 GVJack program with a $10 expired magicJack dongle. Let’s me also make Skype calls using any phone in the house.

  3. David Irwin

    10/31/2012 at 9:42 pm

    If you unplug the phone line from the jack entering your home, you can connect the OBi phone port to any inside jack, and all your phones will ring. To be safe, put electrical tape on the outside line and a little note to not reconnect, as the line voltage would damage the OBi.

    • donald ostertag

      03/28/2013 at 3:39 pm

      “If you unplug the phone line from the jack entering your home, you can connect the OBi phone port to any inside jack, and all your phones will ring.”

      I did the same with my obi 1xx. Can’t tell the difference between Verizon and Obi/GV. The line MUST BE disconnected from phone co. or you will get bad reception and a delay between picking up phone and dial tone. Ask me how I know. I now have access to all the phones all over the house just like before, but w/o the bill.

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