Last month, when I asked about pulling the plug on home phone service, many commenters spoke highly of Ooma, a voice-over-IP service with a twist: buy the hardware and you're done. You get unlimited long-distance calling in the U.S. and cheap overseas rates, but no monthly bill.
It's like MagicJack in that respect, except it doesn't require you to leave a computer running 24-7: the hardware plugs directly into your router, no PC required.
It's normally $249.99, but right now Buy.com has the Ooma Telo for $199.99 shipped. Even if your current monthly phone bill is just $30, you'll recap your investment in just seven months--and enjoy free phone service forever after.
Well, almost free: you're still on the hook for 911 and other fees, which total around $3.50 per month. Also, if you want Ooma Premier, which adds a number of worthwhile features to the service, that adds another $9.99 per month. Oh, and porting your existing number costs $39.99--unless you prepay for a year of Ooma Premier, in which case it's free.
So, yeah, Ooma does nickel-and-dime you a bit, but most of the extras are optional. And even without them, you can use the Telo with your existing wiring or phone system, no additional hardware required.
But how's the quality? I started test-driving a Telo recently, and the initial results were very encouraging: even with the Telo installed behind my router (rather than in between it and my cable modem, the recommended setup), call quality seemed much better than with Vonage--even when the latter was installed ahead of the router.
If you've had more long-term experience with Ooma, hit the comments and share your thoughts. Personally, I'm this close to pulling the plug on Vonage in favor of the Ooma Telo system--and saving 50 bucks in the process.
Bonus deal: Get a refurbished Amazon Kindle 2 for $109.99 shipped. That's an insanely good deal, one that will sell out lightning-quick.