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Ooma Telo review: Ooma Telo will make you love your landline again

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The Good The Ooma Telo is affordable hardware that delivers basic landline-like service without monthly fees, with few compromises.

The Bad Calls and basic service is toll-free, but you still need to pay a few bucks a month in local taxes. Wi-Fi support requires you to buy an additional dongle.

The Bottom Line Ooma one-ups cable company internet phone plans with better call quality and a basic calling plan that starts at free (before taxes).

8.3 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8

Landlines aren't dead -- they're just the freebies that come with your cable TV and broadband internet now. (Yes, many so-called "triple play" services are actually cheaper than if you pass on the included phone service.) But going with a third-party provider instead of your cable company's default VoIP (voice over internet protocol) box can get you better hardware, better service and better options. That, essentially, is the pitch for the Ooma Telo.

Like other VoIP services, the Telo plugs into your broadband router and routes your calls over the internet, which allows for updated features like HD Calling (better sound quality for voice calls). You can either port your existing phone number over to Ooma or get a new number from the company.

The first investment is in the box itself, which costs $100. (It's not supported outside the US and Canada, but if you plug it into a network anywhere in the world, it'll probably work -- albeit with a US number.) Then you'll have to choose between basic or premium service. The basic service is free, but you'll be stuck paying some state-imposed monthly fees. (It was $4 per month in New Jersey.) That gets you toll-free nationwide calling, call waiting, caller ID, 911 service, a call log history and voicemail. These last two can be accessed from Ooma's online dashboard.

Ooma also offers a premium service for $9.99 per month, which includes several additional features, including voicemail via email, call screening, do not disturb and call forwarding. You can forward calls to an Android phone or iPhone. Ooma's app is quite good and much more reliable than some other VoIP companions apps I've tried, such as the Invoxia Voice Bridge and MagicJack.

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