Ooma's next-gen 'free' phone system, the Telo, is finally available

Ooma's much-anticipated Telo VoIP phone system, which allows you to make free calls, is finally hitting stores 10 months after it was announced with a list price of $249.99.

The Ooma Telo costs $249.99 for the hub (right) and $49.99 for the handset, which will be available in November. Ooma

You probably don't remember it, but way back in January, at CES, a little company called Ooma unveiled its next-generation phone system, the Telo, which combines DECT 6.0 cordless-phone technology with Internet-based (VoIP) calling. Well, after nearly 10 months of waiting, the Telo is finally landing in stores and is available for $249.99.

Ooma's claim to fame is that it sells VoIP phone systems that let you make free domestic U.S. calls and low-priced international calls. To help drive home the point that you don't have to pay for phone service, Amazon labeled Ooma's first product, which remains on sale, the Ooma Core VoIP Phone System with No Monthly Phone Service Bills.

Once you shell out the $250 for the Telo, you can make unlimited domestic calls for free, and such features as caller ID and access to online call logs are included at no additional charge. If you want to port your existing number, that will cost you $39.99, but if you want a brand-new number, you don't have to pay anything.

From a design standpoint, the Telo is sexier-looking than its predecessor and more importantly, improves on the feature set, as well as on the call quality. While you can connect a standard cordless phone to the Telo, in November Ooma will also begin offering its own handsets for the system at $49.99 a pop (up to six Ooma handsets can be added to the system). Oooma reps are also highlighting how you can have calls from your cell phone redirected to the Telo.

Now, if you're wondering how Telo makes money, the company does offer a premium service plan. (You're looking at a freemium/premium business model.) Ooma's optional Premier costs $9.99 per month and includes the following features:

  • Enhanced Voicemail: Listen to voice mail through the speaker of the Ooma Telo device or forward voice mail and listen to messages on a mobile phone or a computer.
  • Call Screening and Intercept: Listen through the speaker as callers leave their voice mail. Pick up at anytime to answer or tap a key to send the call away.
  • Personal and Community Blacklists: Tap into Ooma's extensive database of telemarketers and phone spammers and have the option of blocking unwanted callers or sending them straight to voice mail.
  • Multi-Ring: Configure your Ooma system to simultaneously ring or forward a call to a mobile phone.
  • Three-way Conferencing: Easily talk to two parties at once with easy three-way conference calling.
  • Personal Number: Choose a second number anywhere in the U.S. and have it ring distinctively so you know who the call is for.
  • Instant Second Line: Always have an available dial tone even if someone else is using the phone; users can also make or take a second call without missing a beat. (This feature requires an Ooma Telo Handset, which will be available in November.)
Naturally, Ooma encourages you to opt in to the Premium package, and is currently offering a free Ooma Telo Handset or free number porting (a $39.99 value) if you sign up for a year. The company also notes that after the first year of ownership, all Ooma Telo users will be charged an annual regulatory recovery fee of $11.75 to "cover taxes, regulatory recovery fees, and other costs." So eventually going free is going to cost you about a buck a month, but that's pretty reasonable.

We'll be getting a Telo in for review and we'll let you know how it performs as soon as we put it through its paces. If it's as good as it seems, it might be time for this blogger to ditch Vonage, which currently charges a base fee of $24.95 a month for unlimited domestic and international calls to 60 countries, so long as you lock into a one-year contract.

Anybody excited by the Telo? Let us know what you think.

Featured Video