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Home » Budgeting, Lifehack & GTD, Reviews

My Review of the Budget Slimming Ooma VOIP System

Last updated by on 62 Comments

A Review of the Ooma VOIP System

It’s been a while since I made the switch from Verizon Wireless and no land-line to using a combination of the Ooma and Tracfone’s Net10 cell phone service. Making the switch has effectively cut my monthly phone bills in half, from $60 to $30 and has actually resulted in more flexibility and services. But how do these services measure up? In this post, I’ll give you my Ooma review (update: here is a new Ooma review), based on first-hand experience with the user-friendly device.

What is an Ooma?

Ooma is basically a VOIP hardware system with no monthly service fees. Essentially:

  1. You buy the Ooma system.
  2. You hook it up to a high-speed internet connection.
  3. You plug Ooma into your regular land-line phone and use it without paying any service fees.

The Price of Ooma

Ooma ReviewOoma started out at around $400, but has steadily dropped in price since. I purchased an Ooma Core for $299 from Amazon. Update: The Ooma Core has since been upgraded to the newer generation Ooma Telo and now only costs around $127. It also has an optional Ooma Telo handset). The basic Ooma service, includes:

  • free calling to anywhere in the U.S.
  • call waiting
  • voicemail (which you can also check online)
  • caller ID
  • a new number (you can also port old numbers if you choose, but it costs $39.99)
  • no PC required (Ooma runs from an internet connection, not a powered PC like Magic Jack)
  • one-year warranty

Check out my money saving products page to see if I have any current referral coupon codes for Ooma.

Ooma Premier Service Option

Additionally, you can purchase enhanced services for your Ooma unit. I haven’t done this and I’m really happy with the basic bundle, but should I need a second line (perhaps for a home business,) it seems to be a great deal. Ooma Premier costs $9.99/mo. or $119.99/year, which gets you:

  • A second phone line
  • Free phone number port (normally $39.99) – if you sign up for a year
  • A number of higher end personal and business features, including: 3 way conferencing, send to voicemail, voicemail forwarding, privacy, and personalization features.

Installing your Ooma Device

When the Ooma first arrived, I was a little intimidated. There was a 50+ page (mostly text) instruction manual. Luckily, there was also a little picture tutorial. When it comes down to it, there can be different set-ups based on how your phone and internet lines are wired. For most people, the set-up is going to be very easy:

  1. Run a wire from your modem to your Ooma.
  2. Run a phone wire from your Ooma to your landline phone.
  3. Go online, choose a number, and activate your Ooma unit.

It’s really that simple.

How Does it Perform?

I haven’t run into any problems with the service. All calls are crystal clear – as good or better than a land line. Inbound and outbound calls have always worked. The voicemail service is great. This is one of those rare times when you purchase something that you have high hopes for and it actually exceeds your expectations.

Final Thoughts on the Ooma Telo VOIP:

I think the Ooma is great for anyone in one of the following three situations:

  1. Those who want any sort of VOIP/landline phone. You won’t be able to beat the price (it basically pays for itself in under a year).
  2. Those looking to cut their cell phone bills by cutting their minutes.
  3. Those starting a home business who may need the flexibility of multiple lines.

I’ve recommended the Ooma to all of my friends and have no hesitations in recommending the product. It’s worth the price and pays for itself in months.

Check out Amazon’s Ooma listing here.

Ooma Discussion:

  • Do you have Ooma? Let’s see your review!
  • What would your hesitations be to buying the Ooma?
  • Any questions on the Ooma?

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


62 Comments »
  • Steve says:

    I don’t have an Ooma, but a friend of mine does, and it works great. Better than Vonage. I like having one primary cell phone, but if I ever decided to go back to a landline to cut my cell minutes, I’d probably make the jump.

  • Shaun says:

    I’ve always planned on going that route or just going exclusively with the cell phone. It’ll be interesting to watch the future of “main” phones. I know a ton of people (my sister and her fiance) who don’t even have a “main” phone anymore. If someone wants to contact them, then one would just call one of their cells.

  • Shaun says:

    Btw, did you ever get that new dog? I’ve been considering a dog for quite some time, though currently my housing arrangement wouldn’t be ideal. :)

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ Shaun – Yep, I did get a new dog. Posts to come soon. =)

  • Jeff says:

    Comments on ooma telo???

  • Robert says:

    I love Ooma. I have three homes, and have it in each location. Sound is great. and have eliminated three phone bills. Totally free calling all over U.S. Voice mail is great, and the calls to all locations are forwarded to my cell.. I have never missed any calls. Each unit paid for itself in 6 months. And no monthly bills like with vonage or cable VOIP providers.. This one is free after you buy the box, but with a ROI of 6 months, this is a no brainer..
    Buy one, and see… Love, Love, Love Ooma

  • Tony (ooma) says:

    Joe, the limit of 3,000 minutes is for outgoing calls. You may check the Terms of Service of another major traditional VoIP service provider where it also states a limit of number of minutes for “unlimited calling” (they also collect a monthly fee whereas ooma does not have any monthly charges for domestic calls). A major cable VoIP provider even mentions that “they reserve the right to limit or block any usage as deemed necessary to prevent harm to its network, fraud or abuse”, guess how much is considered as abuse? All service providers need to have legal terms to deal with actual abusers and to be clear ooma has never canceled a customer account for such reasons so far.

  • Pat says:

    All,

    I just picked up my Ooma yesterday. Installed easily and sounds great. I contacted customer support to ask about their premier service and was surprised that I was actually speaking to a rep in less than a minute. I had heard stories about bad support but also had seen many great comments at the various big box retailers. I’ve been with Vonage for over two years and they are raising their prices steadily. I was on the low plan at 25 bucks a month.

    An additional reason to buy this is because of the future features Ooma is planning to have. Since it runs a Linux OS, they are going to be adding spam engines, firewalls, and so forth. This device surely is not your typical VoIP. Some of the individuals that started the company came out of companies like Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and so forth.

    The web interface is pretty good and getting better. I like the fact that I can have a text message sent to my phone when a VM comes in. The premier plan gives you more features plus you also get your phone porting included in the price should you desire to go that route.

    I plan on running it as long as I can. If the company folds after a year, I will have recouped my investment in about 10 months. If it doesn’t fold, I’m won’t be getting a monthly bill and I’ll be real happy.

    As far as the 3000 minute limit, I’m not to sure how many people will hit it unless you run a small business. With vonage, I was using 53 minutes a month since most of my calls go to my cell phone. The core reason I have the “landline” is because of my home security alarm, otherwise, it would be out the door. BTW, it works fine with most alarm systems.

    cheers.

  • Deb says:

    Does anyone know if OOma can make 911 emergency calls?
    I initially had looked into Skype until I found out that Skype cannot do so….my elderly parents frequently visit and I need to be able to use 911…

    Thanks

  • Doug says:

    From the ooma faq

    8. Do you support 911 calls?

    Yes. ooma provides E911 service where supported. We will collect your address when you register your ooma device online, and send it to emergency response personnel when you dial 911. Since ooma works over your Internet connection, you will need to call from a mobile phone if your Internet connection is down. If you’re concerned about relying on your Internet for phone service, we’ve built the ooma system to work with a landline back-up. In this case, your 911 calls will always be routed over your landline.

  • Stan Perkins says:

    I’m confused about requirements for OOMA: isn’t it necessary
    to have DSL? If so, then a connection with a server is
    required, right? And so, OOMA cannot stand along, but must
    be hooked up to a service you DO pay for?

  • Jerry says:

    I live in the country where cellphone service is spotty. The OOMA system works great for me. While I am at home I forward my cell to OOMA and never miss a call. It can also ring both the cell and the OOMA.

  • Omar says:

    Hello,

    On 2006, I changed to Vonage and that was a great step, talking about billing, saving a alot. after paying about $60 to AT&T. the bill goes down to $33 average includes taxes and afew internac. calls. 10 min.

    7 months ago i canceled Vonage and I got Ooma at Frys Electronic, this is the best change i’ve ever made. The price $233 final price. and it has paid already by it self.

    so what i can let you know, that the service is great. I do not have any landline, The system Ooma works great whitout it.

    The only problem i have got is sending and receiving fax. I don’t know if is because a Multifunction Canon mx300. the machine looks fine but Ooma seems to have missing the compatibilities with analog signal or something like that.

    I will rate the next 3 services by my tech knoledge:

    #1 Vonage – In/Out calls clear (noise 15% sometimes), Fax-ok, Features alot, cust.serv-ok

    #2 Ooma – In/Out calls clear (noise 20% sometimes), Fax-No good, Features just afew 5 or 6 for free(more paid), cust.serv-ok

    #3 MagicJack In/Out calls clear (noise 20% sometimes), Fax-NO, Features less tahn Vonage/More than Ooma , cust.serv-No good. online only

    So i hope some info helpful for anyone..

    thanks…ULIZ

  • George says:

    I have 2 phone numbers at the house. Each one has multiple cordless units. Will ooma work for me? From what I’ve read, ooma offers a 2nd line with the premium service. Sounds more cost effective to purchase a 2nd ooma. Is this the way to go? thx

  • David says:

    In regards to Ooma fax capabilities, Omar needs to read the help section on the Ooma web site. Ooma does not claim that its service is 100% fax compatable, but if you follow their directions i.e. by using the prefix *99 in front of the phone number, it usually works.

  • Tom says:

    I am still confused. I am looking to eliminate my home phone bill but it says that you have to hook up ooma to your home phone line. Do you still have to keep your home phone to use ooma?

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @ George – It seems like using two Ooma’s would work if you had multiple modems or one modem with multiple connections to plug them in to.
    @ Tom – You don’t have to hook it up to a ‘phone line’, but you do need to plug a ‘phone’ into the system – it could be any old phone that you have.

  • George says:

    Thanks for the reply. Sounds like I can connect two oomas to a hub. I’ve heard there’s a cost associated with keeping the old phone numbers. Is that true? thanks again.

  • Tom says:

    I do not know what you mean by any old phone, I would hook up the phone that I would be using but can I cancell my phone service I have now before hooking up ooma?

  • John M. says:

    If I install the Ooma, what happens to the handsets(3)which are plugged into the A.C wall receptacles,will they still work?.
    I presently have “Triple Play”(T.V.,internet & phone)from my cable company. I would like to dump the phone service & save a few bucks.
    Thank You
    P.S. I am a retired senior who does not make many phone calls, is the newer Ooma the way to go, or stick with the older model?. I live in an apartment.

  • Dick says:

    Tom, you are confused. OOMA replaces your current phone carrier (Verizon, etc.)but not your phone lines. You will need a high-speed Internet connection as you do with all VOIP services. If you have the connection, simply buy the OOMA unit and connect your phones that you are using now to the OOMA hub. It’s that simple.

  • Dick says:

    John, yes the handsets will still work. The main handset, which is now plugged into your current service, is simply plugged into the OOMA hub.

  • Dennis says:

    I’m still a little confused about OOMA. I currently have A, T & T for DSL and regular telephone service. If I get OOMA, I understand that I will still need to pay A, T & T for my DSL service but what about my regular telephone line? Will I still need to pay the monthly fee for that line? If not then does OOMA work over a telephone line that I am not paying for any longer? How can that be?

    Thanks,

    Dennis

  • Matt says:

    Dennis:
    You would cancel your telephone line charge/service only and keep your DSL, the OOMA will now be commuicating all your calls over the DSL connection to the Internet, once you plug in your existing phone(s) to it. These systems can even use your existing house or appartment phone wiring if you have Cable Internet, by 1st disconnecting your phone box (usually outside your house), then plugging in your OOMA box to an existing wall jack. There also may be a way to do this with DSL, but never tried or looked into that option.

    Happy Calling…

  • steve says:

    i have an wireless internet modem with charter communication, can i still use ooma with my internet now?

  • dave says:

    Couple points:

    If you are not technically savvy, you should not be investing in this because you need to be able to depend on your phone service. If you have to ask the difference between this and a land-line, you shouldn’t get it. Also, please be aware that they have the option to start charging you at anytime to use the service; and actually from a business standpoint, once they are established there is no good reason for them not to do this. You are paying for the hardware up front, so they make a profit on that, but beyond that you as a customer actually COST them money to maintain. Also if your hardware breaks, you have to buy new equipment again, which minimizes your savings in the long run.

  • Rich says:

    My question is what does the ooma do to your down/up load speeds.
    Vongage digs into as well as packet8 because they are pluged in inline with the cable modem/router. When I was using my magicjack at my other house the was no change in down/up speed because it plugs in the USB port od your puter.

    Try running speakeasy while the ooma phone is idle, then on-hook and they try it with out the ooma hookup at all. It has to impact these speeds…..Thanks

  • marz says:

    I have two landlines, each has an answering machine in a remote room. I also have remote phones that answer both lines (2 line cordless phones). My main phone is a 2 line phone plugged into a wall jack in the kitchen. If I purchase the two line Ooma, where do I plug it in? Will all of the other phones still work as before?

  • Marilyn says:

    If I understand all this correctly- I buy the Ooma unit @ whatever price and I will NEVER have a bill a monthly bill again. How can that be? I have DSL & a regular landline, I get rid of the landline and keep the DSL. Thats(DSL)the ONLY BILL I will EVER have right And still have the regular phone. I also understand that if I keep the current phone company # I pay a onetime fee of $39.99. I am I getting this all correct?

  • Steve says:

    Just go to ooma.com, they explain nicely for you:) Looking to get one, my buddy had one for 10 months now and works perfectly. For those who don’t seem to understand, no you don’t need a “phone line”, you just simply plug the phone into ooma, which would be the “wall jack”

  • Gaurav says:

    With Vonage the biggest advantage for many customers who have families outside of US (Africa, Asia or Europe) or happen to do business in those countries is that calls to many countries is free. This is hard to beat. Again this may not be of concern who don’t need to call outside of US, but for those who do, International calls can be expensive, especially if calling to Asia. This is the single biggest reason why I am with Vonage.

  • Chad says:

    I looked into those and then realized that it depends how much you use it. I had Vonage for about 4 years when I cancelled it because I only used about 100 minutes a month. Therefore, Ooma didn’t make much sense for me considering the cost (over a year its still $.33/minute). So … I did a lot of research and found Callcentric.com. They offer a landline number for $1.95 per month and charges only 1.9 cents per minute. So I spend about $46.20 per year using my 100 minutes a month. It would take almost 9 years to pay for the Ooma if I had bought that.

  • Lance says:

    No comment just a question. I’ve read that the (voicemail forwarding) cost’s an additional fee. What about just straight forwarding from the Ooma # to a cell phone? So is call forwarding from Ooma # to a cell phone free?

    Thanks

  • Rao Pemmaraju says:

    My biggest concern of OOMA is the company stability. I am not sure how the company can survive financially with just selling hardware only. Without any additional continuous flow of revenue, unless majority of the customers sign up for premier services, it is difficult to continue business. Personally, I am happy without premier service. I do not know how many need premier service because it is not a “must to have service” for all. It is not that I have a problem with their business model of NO phone bills monthly. Of course there are are about $12 annual taxes. That is OK. For those who do not care about transfering their existing phone numbers it is not a problem, if the company folds up for any reason. It is just some consolation for those who think if the company survies at least 10 months after they buy OOMA they can get their investment back. Ofcourse it gives some comfort. But please believe me that my gretest concern is if the company closes like SUN ROCKET VOIP without informing customers, then I will loose my existing phone number which I have been using since 30 years. May be it is not a killing issue for some to loose existing phone number. But, for me it is only just a concern. If OOMA promisses to customers, that it will inform customers atleast 2 months ahead if it has financial problems, then I feel comfortble about OOMA. But, normally that it is not a business practice.

  • bill says:

    How do you get a phone # ?, i see i can keep my own for $39.00 but don’t see info on getting a number. Are there multiple area codes? anyone on the east coast using, Thank you.

  • Edward says:

    I am curious if incoming callers to your Oama number have to pay toll charges like MagicJack? I currently have MagicJack, and my incoming callers have to pay toll charges even if their in my area code.

    Thank you.

  • Rich says:

    I have had Ooma’s basic service for 5 months as my primary service. I have the older Ooma, not Telo. It has been flawless since I started it up.

    I have a broadband connection to the Internet provided by our local cable company. Ooma has a Quick Start guide that works quite well. Their tech support gets on the line quickly if you need them. The Ooma phone box just connects to the cable modem, and after a few supplied cables are plugged in you are good to go.

    I use Ooma in the following way. I plug a set of three cordless phones into Ooma’s box. The first phone in the living room has an answering machine and the other two are located in the main bedroom and kitchen. I don’t use my house wiring because a set of cordless phones is only $50 and they last a long time. The set that I have now can use six phones. I don’t have need for any more than three.

    I went online to Ooma’s My Ooma’s website and changed the amount of rings to 10 before Ooma’s machine will pick up. My answering machine picks up in six rings so no calls go to Ooma’s voicemail. Everything goes to my machine’s voicemail.

    Using Ooma is like having your own telephone company. All of your incoming and outgoing calls are listed online. You can also do other things while in the control panel, change rings etc.

    I have a winter vacation rental property that I rent out from Nov. to May and I use it at other times. My renters were very pleased with the phone service too.

    One problem, not Ooma related was the first set of phones that I have been using were a poor purchase on my part. They were an inexpensive set of Unidens. If one battery died while on the phone with someone the answering machine would die. I had to unplug it and plug it in again. Also if you were on the phone with someone and someone else picked up a phone in the house they could not join the conversation. I checked the manual and it stated that only one phone could be used at a time.

    I switched to Panasonics and the problem disappeared.

    I have to mention that I also have Magic Jack. There is no comparison to my Ooma experience and Magic Jack. Magic Jack is fun and cheap. It has its problems with complete reliability. I love it for travel and a second line. However, I could not use it as a primary phone service because of some sporadic reliablilty issues from time to time.

  • Ted Mosby says:

    Ooma is now charging monthly fees.

    Ooma have removed all references to “no monthly charges” from their website and replaced with “You pay only applicable taxes and fees”. Which are the following:

    1) Regulatory Compliance Fee
    2) 911 Service Fee
    3) Federal Universal Service Charge
    4) State and local taxes, fees and surcharges

  • Tom Durham says:

    I guess that I can thank Verizon for not replacing my DSL modem. When my modem went bad, they wouldn’t replace it. So, I went elsewhere. First I went to Time Warner cable for internet and phone. When I went looking for phone service again, I found ooma. When I gave up my phone from Time Warner, they upped my internet by ten dollars a month. The next day, I saw an ad on TV for the same internet access for the same price that I had been paying before. When I tried to get that package, they said I was already a customer! When I threatened to quit, they even gave me a better deal on my internet! It took me only 5 months to pay for my ooma and now I bill-free and couldn’t be happier. It’s one of the best investments I have ever made.

  • Gail says:

    I have HughesNet satellite for my internet service. Will Ooma work on it?

  • Dan says:

    I use Vonage and after they hooked me in buying their stock via IPO and I lost $$, I have been looking for another VIOP service. Should I change to ooma from Vonage? Will I save in the long run? What are the advantages? Thanks.

  • Craig says:

    Ooma worked great. Out of the box and 15min later a temporary phone number until my main number was ported over. Cost $40 to port my number from AT&T and now no more phone bills. Wish I would have done this 6 months ago when I first looked at Ooma. At $38/month for my old phone bill, I would now be ahead.

  • Milly says:

    I have had Ooma for the past six months. Its a wonderful product, the call clarity is fantastic. It is better than the land line I used to have without the added cost. I recommend the product… I do not have the premier that costs 10.00 a month b/c I did not want the extra bells and whistles… I highly recommend this product… My internet is a tiny bit slower though, but I think its worth it.

  • Ed says:

    I just bought my ooma at Costco today. I haven’t read the manual yet, but I have only two questions. 1. Do I have to hook up the uma from my cable modem lead then hoom the ooma internet lead to my router, or can I hook the ooma to a space on the router? 2. I have four phones on one line at my house. Can I simply run an R45 cable from the ooma and junction it to the master line that runs into the phone company box? Can I try the thing on a different number and then change to my old number?

  • Rose says:

    I have had ooma sice May 2009, I love it, can’t say enough kind words. People think I work for the company. Saved me $1185. in phone bills, in 15 months,r service and great overall quality.
    Easy to install, I have the basic plan I have zero phone bills.
    Thanks Clark Howard for telling ma about this, the best purchase in years.

  • Ray says:

    I currently use Verizon for my landline and DSL. Does anyone know, can I cerizon charge more for DSL when you drop the landline?

  • Ray says:

    Sorry for the typo. Does anyone know, does verizon charge more if you drop the land line side and go with just DSL?

  • That Guy says:

    @Ray: We had to establish phone service with Verizon before we could get DSL (long story). Once it was hooked up, we added DSL and then dropped the phone line. Dry loop DSL ended up being the same cost. Could be we had a nice CSR…but anyway, it is doable.

  • Gini says:

    I have Ooma in my second home operating on Clear Wireless Internet and it is perfect. It was plug and play simple and I can’t understand why some people are complaining. These must be the same people who are unhappy at picnics!

  • Alex says:

    I have Ooma VOIP System in my home is awesome, recommended Ooma to lots of people it is perfect!

  • jscottu says:

    Well over a year, now, and going strong. Once I bought the OOMA device and paid to port my phone number…that was it. Not ONE MORE DIME (I don’t know what the current price structure is). Great phone service. Once every few months I’ll pick up my phone and no dial tone. I unplug my uverse router…plug it back in…and I’m back in business. It has already paid for itself compared to my last VOIP service (and it has better sound quality). It’s alittle scary to pay 2 or 3 hundred dollars to get started…but if you have the guts…you will save alot.

  • Gini Grace says:

    We have Ooma systems in our primary residence and our second home. In the primary residence we have the full-service plan and in our second home we have the basic service. We ported our main home phone number from ATT and they were jerks about it, but it worked. The Ooma full-service plan is several steps up from what we got with ATT. Both systems have work flawlessly for close to a year!

  • Eric says:

    Ooma is a very good voip service provider. I used it for more than three months. However, I think their prices are quite high. If you have a look at its competitor’s prices, you would realize the difference. You can get unlimited calls in just a few bucks per month from providers like axvoice, Call Central etc.

  • YAMILE says:

    I currently use magicjack, honestly I barely make phone calls from my home, but is always good to keep a landline, just in case, so for $20 a year it’s an unbeatable price!

  • Bruce McCombs says:

    Hello,

    I have a question regarding Ooma’s porting process. I currently have a small business that I’m converting from a bricks and mortar operation to an internet-based business. Is it possible to port two of the telephone numbers from our business to an Ooma system which would be located in my home?

    Porting residential telephone numbers seems easy enough, but I can’t seem to find any information on whether or not porting business telephone numbers through Ooma is possible.

    Any information you might be able to provide me on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks very much for your help.

    Sincerely,
    Bruce McCombs

  • Michael says:

    Ooma will not work with home security sytems.

  • Ed says:

    I have had Ooma for a little over a week and find that it meets my requirements in all but one area. Ooma has NO DIRECTORY ASSISTANCE!!!!! NO OPPERATOR!!!! Can you imagine that? No 411 or 0….. I have been trying to find a phone number for some time now calling Ooma and given bad help! Please, pass this on to as many as you can and maybe Ooma will get the message.

  • Steve says:

    I am buying a unit this Friday, and am going to have my landline phone number ported.
    I have read the instructions here, but don’t really understand
    Do I have my number ported and then cancel my AT&T phone service or contact AT&T first?

  • Diana Robben says:

    Can ooma be used with my dishnet internet? Will it use my data towards the monthly data cao?

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