Attention all owners of the Ooma Telo VoIP phone system or anybody considering buying it: you can now go wireless.
The company has taken the wraps off a new $49.99 Telo Air Wi-Fi adapter that allows you to place the Telo anywhere in your home that's within range of your wireless network. That's a big deal for Ooma, because a lot of folks don't want to have to tether the Telo base station to a wireless router that's hidden away in a closet or situated in a less-than-ideal spot in their home.
For those who don't know what the Ooma Telo is, it's a "free" home phone service that uses the Internet to make calls. We say free with quotation marks around it because, the system itself costs money (it carries a list price of $250 but can be found online for less). But aside from that initial investment in the hardware, domestic calling is free and you get very low, Skype-like rates when calling foreign countries.
In case you're wondering how Ooma makes money, it operates on the freemium business model. It offers Ooma Premier, an optional level of service that includes a bunch of advanced features, including the new 911 Notification feature, and costs $9.99 per month. (New customers signing-up for one-year of Ooma Premier service receive a choice of a free number port, Ooma Telo Handset, Ooma Bluetooth adapter, or extended warranty).
While we haven't tested the new Wi-Fi adapter out yet, Ooma says its PureVoice HD technology with advanced voice compression and adaptive redundancy overcomes "any signal degradation within the wireless network." It's also worth noting that once you plug the Wi-Fi adapter into the Telo, you have the option to use the Telo as a wireless bridge.
At the same time as Ooma is releasing the Telo Air Wi-Fi adapter, it's making its $29.99 Bluetooth adapter available as a wireless accessory to all its customers (previously it was available only to Premier subscribers). Ooma says that by adding the Bluetooth adapter to the Telo, you gain "the convenience of answering mobile phone calls on any home phone without worry of poor reception or dropped calls." It has transmission range of up to 30 feet and supports up to seven Bluetooth devices.
We've been meaning to review the Ooma Telo for a while and now that the Wi-Fi adapter is here (and the system has matured with improved technology and bug fixes), we're ready to put it through its paces. Look out for a full review in the coming weeks.