Update after 2 years: We’ve been very happy with Ooma overall. The service has only gone down once in that time period and that may have just been our internet — I don’t remember exactly.
We would have spent ~$600 with our old home phone service over that period vs paying a little under $200 up front for Ooma, so we’ve saved ~$400. Now, we do actually pay $3/month in order to be able to dial 911 from our phones (worth it), so our savings is more like $350. Plus, the voice quality is faaaar better than our old traditional land line, so I think we came out ahead.
Traditional home phones are far too expensive nowadays. That is where Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) comes into play. You can get phone service for a big discount through your internet. In my case, it is even more reliable and higher quality than the home phone service I used to have.
- Ooma is much cheaper in the long-run for most people. Ooma does have a significant upfront cost of about
$200now ~$150, but the monthly bills are little to nothing.
- The call quality is perfect. I’ve never experienced clearer calls.
- Basically unlimited minutes. Its really 5,000 minutes to make sure you’re not using the low cost service for a call center. To go over this amount you would have to talk for over 166 minutes a day on your home phone. However, I bet they wouldn’t stop you.
- From their FAQ: “we do have a limit of 5000 minutes per month (for outbound calling) that we can enforce on a case by case basis in the event that a subscriber is clearly abusing the service (i.e. call centers, commercial purposes, etc.). We have never terminated a customer that has used the service for residential purposes.”
- Good customer service. I was surprised how quickly they responded to and solved the only issue I’ve ever had. It took them less than 48 hours.
- Nice website where you can view your missed calls and listen to voice mail from anywhere.
- No setup costs
- More cost effective if you are calling internationally frequently.
What Vonage and Ooma both have:
- You can make 911 calls. This is rarely used, if ever hopefully, but is nice to know that you can pick up the nearest phone and dial for an emergency.
- No contracts for either service. You used to need to do a contract with Vonage, but not anymore.
- Both require a fast and reliable internet connection. This is a must. Fortunately, most people already have this. I prefer cable over DSL — it seems more reliable and is capable of faster speeds.
- Neither require a computer to work.
- Neither require special phones to work. You can use any old normal phone you have.
- Significant upfront cost. Again, you will probably need about $200 to get started. However, you make this money back over Vonage pretty quickly.
- Cheapest plans limit your minutes like a cell phone. $9.99/month for 200 minutes. To get unlimited minutes, you are looking at $25.99/month.
- Worse call quality than Ooma.
- Their unlimited plans don’t save you much over traditional phone service.
- If you get the older version of Ooma (with no 911 and slightly less features), it can be $200 upfront and $0 from here to infinity.
- I recommend, if you decide on Ooma, to get the newer version with 911 and some additional features. This is about $200 upfront and $3/month for 911 taxes and fees.
- If you compare the new Ooma to the cheapest Vonage, you will break even and start saving $84/year with Ooma after about 2 years.
- If you compare the new Ooma to the most common Vonage plan — $26/month for unlimited calls — you will break even after about 10 months and start saving $275/year with Ooma.
The Other Guy:
Skype is the 3rd competitor here. They don’t offer a service that is quite like Vonage and Ooma. It requires a computer to work. You can’t connect old school phones to it. You will need a headset or a special phone to use Skype. It is difficult to receive phone calls. It drops calls sometimes. It is difficult and annoying to check voice mails.
Why would anyone get Skype? It is very cheap if you’re looking to make some outgoing calls on your computer. For $30/year you can make unlimited outgoing calls. However, a phone number does not show up on the person’s caller ID when you call unless you pay the additional $30/year for an incoming phone number. This is about $5/month and eventually is more expensive than Ooma.
Ooma is a better deal for 90% of people that live in the U.S. In the long-run you will save money over Vonage and Skype. However, I believe about 5% of people who make a ton of international calls and Vonage would be a more cost effective option. There are another 5% of people out there who don’t need to receive calls and aren’t phased by the multiple inconveniences of Skype.
Ultimately, it comes down to saving money with Ooma. However, the call quality and dependability is better with Ooma as well. So, I think it is a win-win.
It should be noted that Ooma is also the only phone service my wife has ever liked. She hated Skype becuase of the inconveniences. Its good to make the wife happy and save money =) Again, a win-win.
Are you considering buying Ooma for your house? You’ve found the right place to get a real Ooma review from a real person.
I’ve tried many different home phone systems an carriers. My wife has not liked the process. I’ve tried Skype in many different forms, used a traditional phone line again, used Ooma, and dismissed Vonage because it doesn’t cost that much less than a traditional phone line.
At first, I was just looking at a way to buy the lowest minute, cheapest cell phone plan and try to talk at home or at work as much as possible. I saved money by lowering my cell phone plan to a pre-paid plan that cost me about $10/month and then switching over all my home calls to Skype at about $60/year or $5/month. Then my wife and I moved into a house that turned out to be a cell phone vortex where we got almost no reception inside the house. She was now forced to use Skype just to be able to make and take calls when inside the house.
I liked Skype enough to think it was worth the slightly extra hassle for the saved money. The main hassles were that it needed a computer (or a $200 special Skype phone that plugs directly into your router) and that computer needed to be on and not asleep for it to work. I did find a $30 Skype phone, so I didn’t need to use a headset, but it didn’t always work and the computer it was plugged into still had to be on and not asleep. Other Skype hassles were that it dropped calls sometimes and it was a pain in the butt to listen to my voice mails.
Also, my wife didn’t like it being on her computer and she got sick of its unreliability. So, she eventually said, “I don’t care how much money its saving us we are switching to a regular land line.” Unfortunately, the land line was even worse! Now, you may not have the same experience because we live in a really old house, but still, it cost more than what was reasonable.
Somehow I stumbled on Ooma. I don’t remember how I found it, but I found it on Amazon and was very intrigued. My wife was very skeptical, but I did it anyway. Thus, opening myself up to a tongue lashing if I was wrong. That was about a year ago and its been great! Here are the reasons we like it:
- It does have big upfront price tag (usually about $200), but it dirt cheap or free after that. I pay about $3/month for 911 calls and that is it. You can find versions out there where you don’t get to make 911 calls and it is 100% free.
- We love the way the voice mail is handled. I can check it from anywhere where I have internet. I can also just as easily check my missed calls.
- I have never experienced a dropped call.
- It has perfect call quality. Seriously, it is better than my cell, my old land line, and Skype.
- You can easily prioritize your call traffic over your regular internet traffic to preserve call quality.
- I had to interact with customer service once and they got back to me and fixed the problem within 24 hours. This is much faster than I expected.
- You get to pick your own number. You can also convert your old number. I did the former, so I’m not sure how difficult using your old number is.
- I was setup in less than 30 minutes after opening the box.
- Ooma does not need a computer to work. It plugs directly into your router/modem.
Ooma review conclusion: I highly recommend Ooma to anyone looking to replace their land line or use less cell phone minutes as long as you have a good internet connection.
What is VOIP – Voice over Internet Protocol? It is a system that uses the internet for phone communication instead of using the traditional phone system (the “public switched telephone network). There are many companies out there that can provide VOIP service to you.
Why are the advantages of VOIP?
- For the most part, they are more cost effective than the traditional phone carriers. This is the primary reason people switch over. You can see a HUGE drop in your phone bill.
- Many carriers provide a sleek way to manage missed calls and voice mail online. This is really nice because you don’t have to call your voice mail and sit through all the lengthy voice menus that waste your time.
- The call quality is more reliable if you have a reliable internet connection. I’ve had a lot of problems with the call quality of traditional phone service in the past. This is the opposite of how it used to be. When VOIP first came out, it had the low quality signal and traditional phones had the good signal
What are the disadvantages of VOIP?
- If your internet goes down, you will not be able to make or receive phone calls. This is obvious, but needs to be stated. This is why it is important to have a fast and reliable internet connection
- Many do not do 911 calls. More and more are integrating this into their services however. The drawback if they do offer it, is that it usually costs you a little extra money.
- You must have a fast and reliable internet connection. If you are on dial-up (Who is really on a dial-up anymore?), then forget about voice over internet protocol.
- Your phone call quality may be interfered with by downloads and other internet activity. Some carriers have ways around this by prioritizing phone call internet traffic over other traffic. However, many carriers are unable to prioritize traffic.
In summary, despite the fact that I’ve listed 3 advantages and 4 disadvantages, I love VOIP. The biggest reason I love it is that it saves me money — lots of it. It is not for everyone, however.
I’m using my standard home phone right now to make a call through Ooma to my wife. What is Ooma? Basically, it replaces the phone company for a very low price. It is a type of phone service called voice over internet protocol (voip). Voip uses your internet connection to call and receive calls from other people. Other voip services that you may have heard of are Skype and Vonage.
Unlike Skype, you can use the same phone hardware you already have. You don’t need to buy special phones to work with Ooma. You don’t even need to own a computer. But, you do need to have an internet connection that is not dial-up. You can call 911 with Ooma. Skype can’t.
Unlike Vonage, the price difference is huge over the traditional phone company. It is not free anymore (it used to be) because they have recently incorporated being able to call 911 with the phones and you have to pay taxes for this. However, it is only about $3/month — much cheaper than Vonage or other home phone services.
You can make (and receive) unlimited US phone calls for free. You get free voice mail. You can check your voice mail and missed calls online easily. It really has everything you’d want in a home phone.
The call quality is excellent. I’ve never had a problem with Ooma call quality. AT&T, my (previous) home phone service, had call quality issues all the time. I don’t get dropped calls and I can always hear the person perfectly except if I’m downloading something huge and haven’t set it up properly. Basically, you plug your Ooma directly into your cable/dsl modem and then plug your computer(s)/router into Ooma and Ooma will fix any issues during downloading by prioritizing your calls. Very easy. You just need to know to do it.
The one downside over other services is that it usually costs a little over $200 upfront for the hardware. However, you can usually make back this $200 in about a year.