Ooma’s refreshed home VoIP hardware has started trickling into Best Buy brick & mortar outlets nationwide. And it’s safe to say that their full complement of retail partners will shortly have Telo ($250) inventory. I first caught sight of the product update last November and, like it’s predecessor (the Hub), Telo effectively offers unlimited US calling. (Currently capped at 5,000 minutes, presumably to prevent abuse by small businesses on tight budgets.) Unlike a Skype or magicJack, you can use Ooma products with your existing phone(s). Or pair Telo with new Ooma-centric handsets due next month ($50?). Additionally and optionally, Ooma offers a Premiere tier of service ($120/yr) and/or allows you to port a number ($40).
In the Spring of 2008, I worked out a trade (at the San Mateo Mogolian Hot Pot) with a former colleague who had relocated to Ooma – a Dash Express for a VoIP Hub. Having previously dumped Vonage due to poor, unreliable service, I was somewhat skeptical. But as a telecommuter and given the nature of my job at the time, I found myself in need of many minutes from a dependable service. And Ooma delivered. Up to several hours per weekday over many months, not once did I experience any sort of interference, a dropped call, or down time. Something I can’t say of Skype or magicJack (or Vonage, obviously).
Given my current work and living situation, I no longer find myself in need of a home phone. Yet, as you can see from the pics, I managed to get my hands on the new gear anyway. Telo hardware is sleeker than the original Hub, with beveled edges and a touchable surface versus physical buttons. However, there’s something about the original Hub’s industrial silver metal look that I prefer. I wanted to run a Kill A Watt test on the refreshed device, versus my Hub results, but seemed to have misplaced the meter. I’ll just assume it’s more energy efficient. And will continue wondering what that USB port foreshadows. In addition to new hardware, Ooma has also refreshed their web portal – home to call logs, voicemail, and customizable blacklists.