I Love Ooma

ooma-logo.jpgIf you haven’t heard of Ooma, you will soon. I discovered it because I was sick and tired of paying ATT&T for a landline we rarely ever used that cost us over $40 a month with no extras. We didn’t even have call waiting, which was nice for us, but the busy signal always freaked our friends out. At least they knew we were home even if they couldn’t reach us.

One day last fall I came across a message on one of my geek boards about a box that uses your current phone number and phones over the Internet. More research showed that everyone was talking about Ooma, a system that seemed to be as popular as Uma Thurman among the nerd community.  I was a bit skeptical until I saw over 75 positive reviews on Amazon. It seemed this system was exactly what I was looking for. Unlike Vonage a similar service that has a monthly fee, once you purchase the Ooma system (about $200), you never have to pay another phone bill again. That’s right I said NEVER.  Plus, getting to keep our existing home phone number (for a small fee) was essential. We’ve had it for 12 years and it’s the one number my wife can actually remember.

ooma_machine.jpgI was worried about the line quality and the set-up – I didn’t want to replace my current phone system – but it was super simple to install and so far we haven’t had many problems. All I did is plug the Ooma VoIP box (which has an answering machine built in) into my Internet connection and then directly into the base of my Panasonic phone system. Two wires and I was good to go. Sure, it took awhile to figure out how to change the outgoing message, which confused many of our callers (their messages were funny to us) and we hate the fact that we now have call waiting again (we still refuse to click over, only now the callers are transferred to voicemail), but considering the service is FREE it’s hard to complain.  The only drawback is if your Internet connection goes down, so does your phone. Of course, since we own three cellphones that's not really a major issue. Being without the Internet, that's a nightmare.

One of the best features is that you can control the system settings from the Internet and it even emails my Blackberry every time someone calls and even includes the message.  I also love the fact that it immediately sends any unknown/blocked/private callers directly to voicemail.  No more telemarketers ringing the house. As they say “Silence is Golden.” Unfortunately, that means my wife’s boss has to type in *82 every time she calls the house to unblock her number, which makes her very cranky. I’m also blocked while driving in my car because I can’t figure out how to pass the phone number from my blue tooth phone through the car’s system. So, when I’m driving home and trying to tell my wife when to expect me, she may not see the message (the box is in another room), but it sends me an e-mail from myself letting me know I’m stuck in traffic.

We’re three months in and after getting our last bit of mail from AT&T, a credit check for once, we’re happy with this choice, even though its taken some getting used to.  Sometimes being the gadget guinea pig isn’t a bed of roses, but so far our love affair with Ooma is going strong.

Dave Dinsmore, otherwise known as The Man, is a computer guy who lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lisa, dog Emily and cat Jasper.