About six months ago I saw an advertisement for the ooma phone system. It was on sale, looked interesting and I jumped to purchase it. I wasn’t all that familiar with the system but thought it was worth a look. I was immediately impressed by it. The unit connected directly into my router and I connected my home phone system into the unit. After a quick sign-up process I had voice over IP phone service for free for the life of the system. ooma offers a premier level of service at a competitive price but for those who aren’t interested in the extra features of that service the hardware is the only expense incurred. The Premier features are extensive and worth considering if you go to the expense of purchasing the system. They include…
- Enhanced Voicemail: Listen to voicemail through the speaker of the Ooma Telo device or forward voicemail and listen to messages on a mobile phone or computer.
- Call Screening and Intercept: Listen through the speaker as callers leave their voicemail. Pick-up at anytime to answer or tap a key to send the call away.
- Personal and Community Blacklists: Tap into Ooma’s extensive database of telemarketers and phone spammers and have the option of blocking unwanted callers or sending them straight to voicemail.
- Multi-Ring: Never miss a phone call again by configuring your Ooma system to simultaneously ring or forward a call to a mobile phone.
- Three-way Conferencing: Easily talk to two parties at once with easy three-way conference calling.
- Personal Number: Choose a second number anywhere in the U.S. and have it ring distinctively so you know who the call is for.
- Instant Second Line: Always have an available dial-tone even if someone else is using the phone; users can also make or take a second call without missing a beat.
I’ve been using my ooma for months now and am completely sold on the product. It offers terrific value, works incredibly well and keeps getting better and better. I had the opportunity to visit with a number of representatives from the company yesterday and am impressed by all of the new innovations are bringing to the system.
It was only a few short weeks ago that ooma rolled out their second-generation device, the Telo. It has a far sleeker appearance than the original unit but that’s only the beginning. It is, on many levels, a far more powerful device and the number of value-added features that the company is bringing to it over the next few months will make an attractive device one of the must-have gadgets of 2010. Here’s a quick look at some of the new features.
I Can Hear Clearly Now– The first thing that was demonstrated was the increase in voice quality that will be added to the device in the coming months. My system sounds good. There’s no question about that. It doesn’t sound great however. It should be more than happy with it and have no complaints but the company is rolling out some innovations with regard to sound that are truly impressive. The first is what they’re calling “Ooma Pure Voice”. This new system improves the quality of the call by collecting the data packets and adding in a degree of redundancy that provides a huge increase in the sound quality. The demonstration let me to hear the same phone call over one of their direct competitors and their new system. Ooma’s sound quality blew away the competition. Seriously, it was no contest and even with 50% packet loss the call sounded fine. The new “pure voice technology” is a Telo-only feature so first-generation users like me are going to have to upgrade if something were interested in having available to us.
HD Voice– The next thing that was demonstrated with what the company is referring to as “HD Voice” HD voice offers two times the sound quality as “standard definition” voice calls. The system is only Ooma to Ooma but the difference is one that you have to hear to believe.
iPod/iPod touch integration. Of course a company has to have some integration with the iPhone and the iPod touch and what they have to offer is really quite exciting. Apple just approved the company’s first app — it allows sip calls to be made over WiFi using a current Ooma account. Calls made using the iPhone and iPod touch application will show up as if they’re being made from the same phone system at home, a nice feature if you only want to have one phone number showing when you make calls using the Ooma system. (The other option is to use Google Voice… more on that in a bit.) The application will cost $9.99 when it’s released sometime in the next few weeks. Premier customers will get 250 minutes of included calls per month. After that calls will be only 1.9 cents per minute. Individuals who have not signed up for the premiere service (I knew I should’ve taken advantage of the promotion are offering last month!) Will be able to use the system as well at a cost of just 1.9 cents per minute.
Everything goes better with Bluetooth– The company demonstrated their new Bluetooth support. Through a dongle that is connected to the back of the base station (free for Premier customers in under $50 for non-Premier customers) users of the system will be able to route phone calls to Bluetooth headsets, answer calls from their headset and update contacts in the Telo handsets by simply placing a Bluetooth connected cell phone next to it. Support for Bluetooth will make the integration of a cell phone and the Ooma system seemless.
The company shared some information about their upcoming Google Voice extensions. This will be a premium feature and the pricing is not yet clear but it will allow for a host of different services including using Google Voice’s answering service in place of Ooma’s, using your Google Voice number as your caller ID display number, one touch access to voice messages from the base station and much much more.
Finally the company will be rolling out voicemail transcription. Perosnally I have not listened to voicemail in two years. At the same time Google Voice doesn’t do a particularly good job with transcription. Ooma’s system will use real live people so, so long as you can get over privacy issues, the text will be far more accurate.
In short, the company isn’t satisfied with rolling out new hardware. They’re looking for new and innovative ways to make calls easy, cost-effective and simple. If the demonstrations are so today are any indication they’ve done just that. Were hoping to have the opportunity to review the new Telo system and all of these new features as the rolled out over the coming months.
Ooma Telo retails for $249.99. Optional Ooma Premier costs $9.99 per month. Sign up for one year of Ooma Premier and receive a free Ooma Telo Handset (a $49.99 value) or free number porting (a $39.99 value). After the first year of ownership, Ooma Telo users will be charged an annual regulatory recovery fee of $11.75 to cover taxes, regulatory recovery fees and other costs.