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Multimedia & VoIP Reviews

Features

Ooma's features come in two groups. The Basic feature set comes with the price of the Telo base station and incurs no monthly fees (except if you use optional fee-based services). The Premier feature set adds many things that you may wish were bundled into the Basic feature set, so it's important to know which is which. The table below shows some of the difference between the two service levels, with the full list shown here.

Ooma Basic vs. Premier feature comparison
Ooma Basic vs. Premier feature comparison

Some of the features I'll be referring to are part of Premier, which Ooma tries to hook you on with a free 60-day trial that automatically activates when you start service. But after 60 days, Premier costs $9.99/month or $119.88 a year. Those good at math will notice again that you don't get a financial incentive for signing up for Premier, except for the lovely selection of gifts, one of which you can choose if you sign up for an annual Premier subscription.

One of the reasons for the impressive range I noted with the Linx is the DECT 6.0 standard, which operates on the 1.9 GHz spectrum. Rumor has it that Siemens decided on the DECT 6.0 name under the assumption that customers would not want a measly 1.9 GHz phone when 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz seem bigger and better. The truth is that 1.9 GHz has better range and the frequency is uncrowded at the moment, making it perfect for cordless phones.

Ooma is marketing its HD2 handset as a home phone that is like a smartphone. The HD2 does have some nice features that are smartphone-like and make a lot of sense, but it's not quite there yet. A cool feature is the syncing of Yahoo and Google contacts and the syncing of Facebook pictures to the HD2. With the HD2 handset, gone are the days of entering names and phone numbers manually.

It should be noted that sync is not initiated on the phone, it's done within the My Ooma Portal. In some ways this provides more flexibility because manipulation can be done on the web vs. on the phone.

However, "syncing" is a very loose term, especially how Ooma uses it. For those of you used to the Contact sync of a smartphone to Exchange or Google where you simply add a contact to Google and it shows up on your phone at the next sync, Ooma "sync" is more manual than this. It's actually a one-time import via the My Ooma page granting permission to your Google account, much like Facebook authentication for forums.

That said, the Facebook import is a nice option. When synced, the picture of the person calling comes up on the color screen of the phone along with their name, a very nice touch. An example image is below.

An example image of the HD2 with Facebook picture
An example image of the HD2 with Facebook picture

The HD2 is a nice handset for the things that a handset is supposed to do. As mentioned, the screen is color. Redial and speakerphone buttons are on the face of the phone in easy-to-use places vs. having to go hunting for them. Voicemail is easily accessible and very intuitive. Phonebook and Call Logs are also easy to use and self-explanatory.

The phone has an Intercom function as well. I pressed it, not expecting it to work with the Skype phone connected through the Ooma Linx. To my surprise, the Skype handset started paging and we were able to talk between the two. Intercom isn't that important to me, but I know for my parents it would be. My retired father works out in the shed often, while my mom is in the house.

The last notable feature of the handset is the Do Not Disturb function that allows you to put the phone into a mode where it will not accept calls. It's a nice feature and would be even nicer if DND could be scheduled via the My Ooma page.

The Ooma Telo functions like a simple router, base station and answering machine all packed in to one. The image below shows the callouts of the Ooma Telo. One intriguing thing that I did not test was the Send-to-VM button. I also noticed this was available on the HD2 handset. This would be useful for home office use or anyone who doesn't like taking down messages.

The callouts of the Ooma Telo
The callouts of the Ooma Telo

The Ooma Telo also has a USB port that can accept Ooma Bluetooth or Wireless adapters. The Bluetooth adapter lets you use Ooma for Bluetooth earpieces and for making/receiving calls via bluetooth on your cell phone. It supports up to seven Bluetooth devices. The Ooma Wireless adapter enables you to connect the Telo to your LAN via wireless instead of Ethernet.

Unfortunately, there is only one USB port on the Telo, so you can't have your wireless and Bluetooth too. I didn't have either of these accessories, so I can't vouch for their quality.

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