Free phone calls with Ooma Telo..good quality too.
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Free phone calls with Ooma Telo..good quality too.

I have tried a couple of..”As seen on TV”..gadgets that promised to free me from the clutches of the phone company and have been disappointed every time. So, it was with low expectations that I agreed to try out the Ooma Telo that a promised a home phone line with no service charges..all I have to do is pay the local taxes and fees..about 4 bucks a month.

The device looks impressive..about the size of a telephone answering machine. The Telo is Ooma’s second generation VOIP device..the company has been operating in the US since 2007..It is a small computer that manages your Internet phone service and includes unlimited Canadawide calling, caller-ID, call-waiting, voicemail and 911 service

All I had to do was go online to activate my Telo which involved selecting a local phone number..I can also port my existing number if I wish. Once activated I plugged the Telo into my home router, plugged in the power supply and plugged in a standard home phone, I used a wireless handset..all the necessary cables come in the box. I used a wireless handset..and I had a dial tone. It couldn’t have been much simpler.

Now for the moment of truth..what does the Ooma Telo sound like..I must say I was blown away..the quality was excellent..clear and crisp but with presence..that is it didn’t sound too digital. I tried it out on a high end wired phone and a $20 wireless bargain phone and in both cases the quality was top notch. I downloaded a movie without QOS activated on my router and did not see any reduction in voice quality. Very impressive.

My Telo came with the optional ($9.99/month) Ooma Premier service which adds features such as free US Calling, blacklists, multi-ring which can ring both your home phone and mobile phones simultanously so you don’t miss calls. I especially liked the Instant second line which enables you to make a call even if someone else is on the phone. You can also select a second phone number and direct it to a particular phone..or fax machine in the house.

The Premier service has most of the bells and whistles you could want on a phone service.  All the features can be controlled from a handy web portal where you can also listen to voice mail messages.

There are also Android and iPhone apps that allow you to make calls from anywhere on a 3G or WiFi connection. Great for those vacation trips when you want to keep in touch with home. I tried it out on my Android smartphone and it worked fine on a WiFi connection but was pretty much useless on a 3G connection. Also available is a Bluetooth adapter that allows you to add your mobile phone to the home phone system as well as a USB Wireless adapter to connect to your home network if that is more convenient. A DECT wireless handset will also be available soon..the Lelo is also a DECT base station.

This is an interesting product that actually works as advertised and offers a lot of interesting features. The Ooma Telo is available in Canada for $229.99 as of today November 2 online from Amazon and  London Drugs. Now that price may seem steep in comparison to some of the “As Seen on TV” gadgets but this one works and based on the average Canadian phone bill payback is less than 6 months, after that it is all gravy. The Ooma Telo also comes with a one year limited warranty and a 30 money back guarantee.



Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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