A few months ago, when I asked if it was time to pull 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., cheap overseas rates--and no monthly bill.
Since then, I've had the chance to review the Ooma Telo for myself. After just a few days using the service, I was sold on its better-than-Vonage sound quality and huge potential savings. So I dumped Vonage and have been using Ooma for the last couple months. Regrets? None.
The hardware normally costs $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 recoup your investment in just seven months--and enjoy free phone service forever after.
Let me rephrase that: free basic phone service. The only included calling features are caller ID, call waiting, and voice mail. If you want goodies like privacy features, network-outage forwarding, and a second line, you'll have to sign up for Ooma Premier ($9.99/month).
I did, and I'm still saving nearly $25 monthly over Vonage (and its ever-increasing taxes and fees). I also sprang for a couple Telo Handsets ($50 each), though these are definitely optional: the Telo works very nicely with my old Uniden cordless phone system.
Bottom line: I recommend the Ooma Telo wholeheartedly, especially if you're looking to free yourself from yet another monthly bill. (Alas, you're still stuck paying for cable Internet.) The initial outlay may be a little painful, but at least it's a one-time expense.
Bonus deal: TigerDirect has the refurbished 5-inch TomTom XXL540S GPS for $89.99 (with coupon code MFJ8539), plus about $5 for shipping. That's the lowest price I've seen on a navigator with a 5-inch screen.