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

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The setup for Ooma Telo was simple enough and took only 10 minutes. The only problem was Telo's wired-only configuration: you need to plug it directly into your router with an ethernet cable. (The Telo has two ports, so you can pass through to a second networked device if needed.) If you want Wi-Fi compatibility, you'll need to pay $50 extra for the Ooma Air, which includes a wireless USB dongle. Alternately, you can but the Telo bundled with Ooma's Bluetooth adapter to take calls directly on your mobile phone or hands-free wireless headset.

Once the Telo is on your network, you can either plug in any standard home telephone (including cordless models), or you can buy Ooma's own HD2 wireless handset, which runs about $60. Ooma also offers two other accessories of note:

  • Ooma Linx ($50): A bridge device that lets the Ooma system interface with fax machines or cordless phones using the DECT 6.0 standard.
  • Ooma Safety Phone ($50): A pendant-style wireless speakerphone intended to make easy call pickups or emergency calls for seniors.

Telo can also integrate with smart-home devices. It can pair with WeMo or Phillips Hue to have lights provide a visual alert when phone calls come in. Amazon Echo integration is here as well, allowing you dial out with your voice.

Ooma calls its transmission technology "PureVoice," and it delivered on its promise of combining better-than-traditional-landline sound quality with a mostly clean signal. (As with any network device, you need a solid broadband connection for Ooma to work effectively, of course.) Better yet, I didn't experience any dropped calls and forwarding calls to my mobile phone worked like a charm.

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A superior internet phone system

All in all, I found Ooma to be far superior to MagicJack, and a better value than the Invoxia VoiceBridge (which is, admittedly, a more limited product focused simply on remote access to a US landline). If you're unhappy with the default "triple play" VOIP phone option from your cable company, or you're just looking for a standalone service with more flexible features, Ooma should be your go-to choice. The basic plan should be enough for most casual users, but if you're planning on making this your main phone line, the extra-cost premium plan is still less than a traditional landline from the phone company.

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