Sunday, April 6, 2008

Ooma update



I blogged a while back about the Ooma that I picked up (for free!) at an entrepreneurial event that I attended. Having moved into the new house, I finally got around to setting it all up, so here's the mini-review:

Ooma is a VOIP device that offers free long distance in the US (unlimited) along with call-waiting, voice-mail, and a bunch of other services, with no monthly service fee. The cost absorbed in buying the device. Long-distance outside the US is extra, but relatively cheap (to call Canada is a little over a penny a minute).

OK, so first, the good:

  • It's a sexy device. Definitely designed by (and for?) mac-lover types.
  • Setup was a snap. I'll caveat this below, but for the most part, plug in and go, and it guides you through the process relatively problem free. Considering that it plugs into your broadband, your phone line, requires a credit card for long-distance billing, and your phone number & service provider to switch off other services (like call waiting) with your land-line, it's surprising it all worked at all, let alone problem free.
  • Customer service (I had to email about my change of account info from Seattle to Portland), responded in minutes, even on a sunday morning.
  • Nifty features. Things like SMS'ing you or emailing you with info about new voicemail messages, are pretty cool.

The bad (the only downside I can think of):

  • I'd wager that the thing was designed by a group of people that live in the bay area, or another similarly congested place. It's definitely designed with a compressed living area in mind. They suggest placing the device between your cable modem and your router (if you have one), they require that it be plugged into your land-line, and the 'hub' device (in the photo above) is designed to be in an accessible location (having the main buttons and indicator lights on it). This might be fine in most San Francisco appartments, but for those of us in suburbia, it's less than ideal. Right now I have it in the living room, but I plan on re-working things so that the modem and router are in the garage, so my sexy device will live in there, I guess, and I'll have to route a phone cable over to where it's going to be located. ANyhow, I'd like to see an option where the main 'guts' are available in a small unit to put in my network closet, and the 'UI' portion is then available anywhere else in the house. Would also like to see support for a wireless version of the scout (maybe one exists?)

I've only used it for a few local calls and one long distance call so far (20 minutes to mom -> 29c!), but so far, so good!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This might be what you're looking for:
http://www.amazon.com/ooma-Scout-Accessory-Monthly-Service/dp/B0010W84A0/ref=pd_bxgy_e_text_b

Steve said...

I bought mine a week ago after reading the Amazon reviews (which in hindsight I think are phoney, they all seem oddly familiar to each other). It pretty much does what it says. Customer service, though, sucks. I called twice and left messages and a week later have not heard back. I think this company has cut back on its staff and is in real trouble.