Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, allows users to place a telephone call over the Internet by transmitting telephone voice signals as digital signals. Ooma and MagicJack offer VoIP services with significantly different equipment and prices. As of 2011, Ooma's systems that connect to the Internet range in price from $220.00 U.S. for a basic hub to $300.00 for a system with a high-definition voice handset. MagicJack charges $40.00 for a small Universal Serial Bus (USB) device that connects to a computer and includes the first year's service subscription; telephone service costs $20 per year thereafter.
Ooma offers VoIP systems that, once purchased, eliminate the need for service from your telephone company. Basic equipment is either an Ooma Telo or Hub device, which connects to a high-speed Internet modem or router. A cordless telephone connects to the Ooma Telo or Hub, which then offers full telephone service including 911 calls, voice mail, call forwarding, call logging, faxing, free in-network calls and low-price international call plans.
Additional Ooma Features
For a fee, you can port your current telephone number to the Ooma service; otherwise, you get a new number. Ooma recently introduced HD Voice technology, which requires its Telo Handset. The Ooma Scout, another optional device, expands service to phones on extension lines. Ooma Premier Service offers a second line and three-way conference calls, among a long list of features. Ooma also offers an adapter that forwards calls via Bluetooth wireless, and Mobile HD apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod and Android devices for calls over Wi-Fi or 3G cell phone services.
MagicJack is a small device with a USB plug on one end that plugs into Windows and Intel-based Mac computers. A telephone jack on the other end receives an auxiliary cable from your corded or cordless phone. You can also opt to dial from the computer using an onscreen dial pad and a headset. MagicJack provides standard call forwarding, caller ID, call waiting, voice mail and 911 telephone services. MagicJack assigns new telephone numbers but, as of early 2011, is still beta testing porting existing telephone numbers. MagicJack also offers a free conference room feature that anyone can set up for group calls.
Some online reviews complain of lower sound quality during MagicJack calls, while Ooma touts the clarity of its HD Voice technology and Telo Handset. Ooma offers both bundled and pay-as-you-go plans when calling out of the Ooma network; otherwise calls are free. MagicJack to MagicJack calls anywhere are free, as are calls between phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and international calls from MagicJack back to the U.S. Using MagicJack to place international calls from the U.S. requires purchase of prepaid calling minutes. MagicJack needs a running computer with an Internet connection; Ooma works independently of your computer, requiring only connection to a high-speed router or modem.
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