Ooma differs from other VoIP services in that it charges only for the initial hardware. You start with the Ooma Telo (*Est. $200) hub, which promises better call quality and works with your regular home phone. If you want more extensions, you have to buy Ooma Telo handsets (*Est. $50). There are no monthly fees for the basic service, except for taxes and fees (about $3.50 per month). Domestic calls are free, so unless you make mostly international calls or need lots of extensions, reviews say this is the most cost-effective VoIP solution. The free service includes basic features such as voice mail and caller ID, plus a virtual second line, so two people can make calls at the same time.
Some fancier options, such as three-way calling and voice mail forwarding, require a Premier subscription (*Est. $10 per month). Most reviews praise the call quality, but technical support gets mixed reviews. If you make lots of international calls, consider Vonage (*Est. $10 to $25 per month), which offers free calls to 60 countries with its $35-per-month plan. Ooma supports enhanced 911 calling, which broadcasts your name and location even if you can't speak. You can take Ooma on the go by downloading the Ooma App (*Est. $9.99) on your smartphone (Ooma account required).
We found the most detailed comparison reviews of Ooma at The New York Times and at SpotCoolStuff.com; both reviewers compare Ooma with three other popular VoIP services. ConsumerReports.org places Ooma in the top three of the telephone services that it reviews. Single-product reviews at ComputerWorld.com and EVDOInfo.com provide more detail. While we found the most user-written reviews at Amazon.com, the reviews and ratings at DSLReports.com are better consolidated, with useful comparisons to many more VoIP services.
An article at FierceVoIP.com examines Ooma's business model to evaluate the company's probable longevity -- a crucial factor, since costs to the user are all up front. More recently, a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle offers a comparison of Ooma and Vonage, while a blogger at CNET tries out the Ooma Telo service.
Ooma is one of the over 20 phone service providers ranked in this ConsumerReports.org chart, based on a survey of 69,000 reader experiences. Each provider gets ratings for reliability, call quality, support and value.Consumer Reports offers this article only to paying members, therefore we cannot display it here. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine through the link above.
Review: Phone Service Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, May 2011
2. The New York Times
This review compares Ooma with Vonage, Skype and magicJack, concluding that Ooma and Vonage have the best call quality plus easy installation and use.
Review: Talk Is Cheap, if You Ask, Eric A. Taub, April 29, 2009
Ooma earns good feedback here, based on about 65 mostly enthusiastic user-written reviews. Users praise it for call quality and ease of use. Recent reviews also report improvements in technical support.
Review: Ooma, Editors of and contributors to DSLReports.com
4. PC World
Calling the Ooma Telo an "affordable and versatile landline replacement," PCWorld's Rick Broida gives it 4 out of 5 stars. He highlights several features that are not matched by Vonage or any other VoIP service -- in particular, the optional Bluetooth adapter that links your cell phone to the Telo, allowing you to take incoming mobile calls on your home phone.
Review: Ooma Telo: The Single Best Landline Replacement You Can Buy, Rick Broida, Sept. 20, 2010
Gordon Mah Ung recommends the Ooma Telo as an alternative to having a landline at home. Like other reviewers, he had problems with the Telo's installation, and he bemoans the lack of a corded headset jack with the Ooma handset. He states that Telo is definitely cheaper than Vonage if you want just the basic features.
Review: Ooma Telo and Handset Review, Gordon Mah Ung, July 21, 2011
More than 2,000 owners review Ooma here, resulting in an overall rating of 4.4 stars (out of 5). Most of the complaints relate to inaccessible or poor technical support.
Review: Ooma Telo Free Home Phone Service, Contributors to Amazon.com
This detailed review of the original Ooma compares it with Vonage, magicJack and Skype -- concluding that for U.S. users who make mostly domestic calls, Ooma is the best choice. Call quality rivals that of Vonage, and Ooma costs the least in the long run -- but international calls are cheaper with Vonage, and Vonage customer service is better.
Review: Is Ooma Worth Your Moola?, Editors of SpotCoolStuff.com, March 19, 2009
This article explaining Ooma's business model reinforces the probability that Ooma will stay in business despite offering free ongoing service, in part because the company plans to refresh its hardware about every two years.
Review: The Ooma Conspiracy -- or Why Vonage Is Ultimately Doomed, Doug Mohney, March 19, 2009
9. San Francisco Chronicle
In this short article, David Einstein compares Ooma and Vonage, ultimately recommending the former. He says that while Vonage offers free international calls, Ooma's rates are very low, plus there's no monthly fee.
Review: After Up-Front Cost, Ooma Has Edge Over Vonage, David Einstein, Jan. 25, 2010
Rick Broida, who writes The Cheapskate blog for CNET, takes a look at Ooma Telo, comparing it to his current VoIP service, Vonage. He's impressed with Telo's call quality and likes the idea of shedding the monthly bill. Nearly 50 users post responses.
Review: Replace Your Landline With $199 Ooma Telo, Rick Broida, July 12, 2010
Unuth awards the Ooma 4 out of 5 stars, citing its cost advantages and clean design as the primary reasons for this rating. Ooma supports 911 calls, something that some VoIP services do not. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Ooma Review- Free Phone Calls, No Monthly Bills, Nadeem Unuth
Review: Ooma Telo Review – So Long, Landlines, Sean P. Aune, Sept. 14, 2011
The editors at CNET highlight the new wireless capability of the Ooma Telo VoIP system. The Wi-Fi adapter is reasonably priced and can act as a wireless bridge.
Review: Ooma Telo Phone System Base, Editors of CNET, Sept. 14, 2011
With over 150 reviews, customers award the Ooma Telo an average of 4.3 out of 5 stars, giving high marks for performance and value for price. However, the lowest scoring reviews complain that the Ooma fails to work after a short time.
Review: Ooma - Telo VoIP Home Phone Service - Black, Contributors to BestBuy.com
This detailed single-product review of Ooma concludes that it can save a lot of money unless you need a lot of extensions or extra options. Call quality is judged adequate but variable -- sometimes hollow, tinny or fuzzy.
Review: Review: Ooma Helps You Save on Your Phone Bills, Preston Gralla, Feb. 25, 2009