Ooma Review: A Home Phone Service for the Smartphone Age
If you want a home phone that meshes with a smartphone and is smart enough to block telemarketers and unwanted robocalls Ooma is an affordable solution that can replace more expensive landline options.
While many users are cutting landlines and home phones in favor of smartphones, there is still a place for a home phone in many families. While I don’t use our landline very much, my wife still wants a home phone which she uses significantly more than me.
Enter Ooma, a small box that connects your home phone to the Internet to make phone calls for a few dollars a month or for $9.99 a month for a premium service that blocks telemarketers and more. The Ooma box is $149 new or $129 refurbished and the monthly fees for the basic service are only taxes and fees.
Time Warner was charging us about $35 for in state only calls which is an astounding amount considering they often offer nationwide long distance for less. Even if we could negotiate a lower rate, it wouldn’t solve my biggest complaint about our home phone — telemarketers, debt collectors and robo dial political calls.
I work at home and would get three to four phone calls on a bad day for political candidates, from Rachel from cardholder services, senior citizen alerts and debt collection calls for someone who had our number at least a decade ago. Some days it got so bad that I would unplug the phone altogether, but that’s not a good long-term solution as I would easily forget to plug it in at the end of the day.
After porting our home phone number to Ooma a week and a half ago I have not received a single phone call from the dozens of organizations that regularly interrupted my day. I didn’t need to block the calls because the Ooma premium service includes an option to use a community blacklist to block known bad callers. There is also a personal blacklist for individuals you don’t want to call you. So far there are no blocking mistakes from people who I want to reach us. You can also block any anonymous calls.
The low price and ability to block unwanted callers are my favorite Ooma features, but there’s more.
Ooma supports Google Voice, and it shouldn’t lose access like ObiHai and other services will early next year. Through a Google Voice Extension calls to a Google Voice number will ring the Ooma and any landline connected to it.
The Ooma service also offers 911 alerts to send an email or text alert to specific numbers or addresses when 911 is dialed from home. This can alert a parent or a spouse if there is trouble at home.
Call forwarding is available to send calls to a cell phone if your internet goes out, an option to ring both home and cell phone or an option to forward all calls.
There is an Ooma app that allows users to place a call from the Ooma on their cell phone, listen to voicemail and manage some parts of the service. The app is free.
Some of the features above are part of the Premier service, which in my opinion is worth it if just for the community blacklist.
The Ooma call quality is very good throughout our house with the DECT 6.0 wireless home phones we have connected. Callers could not tell we switched from Time Warner Cable to Ooma.
The Ooma connects to the internet and the home phone plugs into the back. You don’t need a special home phone to make this work. Ooma recommends placing the Ooma Telo between your router and the modem, but after reading about some issues with the Apple Time Machine I placed the Ooma behind the router and it worked fine. Setup was incredibly simple and I was up and running in about 10 minutes with a number assigned by Ooma.
I ported our home phone number to Ooma from Time Warner in a process that took just over a week, though this can last as long as three to four weeks. Ooma sends regular updates about the port progress.
The Ooma Telo and Ooma service are worth the price, and after our switch the savings pay for the Ooma Telo within a few months. If you primarily use a smartphone, but need an affordable home phone that isn’t constantly ringing with telemarketers Ooma is the best solution out there.