Obihai ObI1022 phone reviewed

 

First a Chinese learning application

First an app plug. Chinese Skill is a great Android and IOS app for learning Mandarin. It’s similar to the DuoLingo app for other languages (i.e. Russian, Spanish and Porguguese). It works on Android and IOS. Also look for the Perapera Chinese Popup Dictonary extension for Google Chrome and Firefox. You might also try the Zhongwen Firefox and Chrome Chinese plugin

Well, this might be a bit nerdy or geeky. But there is a PC (perhaps Mac also) on File Hippo . It’s called BlueStacks App Player. But I can use it as a pseudo software emulation environment on my PC. Then I can install and work with Chinese Skill app, without having to use an Android or an IOS device. You just need an active Gmail account.

Now to Obi1022

Obi1022

Obi1022 can be found on Amazon. Technically, this is a business phone. But I love using it with a personal Google Voice account. The chief advantage is ht HD sound quality. Compared to Ooma – which boasts about its sound quality – this is much better. Amazon gives me a 30 day return window, so I could test it out.

Obihai does have advantages I really enjoy. They have official relationships with Google Voice and Ring To, which are both free services. I have OBI200 hooked up to Google Voice and Ring To. And Obi2200 hooked up to Google Voice.

What you need to do is have an Obitalk account set up. Then after setting it up, according to the quick start instructions, I highly recommend the next step: Firmware updates. I like to check my Windows 10 and Android devices daily for either operating system or application software updates. I make a weekly check on my Obihai devices for firmware updates. This way, you insure the systems are running as smoothly as possible, with the latest bells and whistles. You can do this one of two ways:

By an inform icon in the Obitalk portal

By dialing ***6 from the phone. I prefer this way, since it is much quicker.

The other element is the hands free, speaker phone mode. I can call or receive calls without the hassle of putting a phone to my ear. This allows me to write, read emails, learn languages, etc. Of course, this is only for formal chit chat. If it is an important call, it will have my full attention. And there is an HD quality that’s much better then the Ooma advised quality. I know, since I’ve been an Ooma user for 3 years. That is, until I’ve finally converted to an Obahi solution, coupled with my cell phone plan.

The phone also has some features I really enjoy.

Redial list: It gives me a list of phone numbers that called me, when I was unavailable. Should I to to call them back, I just click on the number and let it dial. This way, I can call back whenever I wish.

Lines: I have Google Voice set up. But if you have other business lines, you can easily switch to them, by selecting the appropriate phone button. Since I’m not paying for other business phones and just using the free Google Voice account, this should suffice for now.

Call back on another line. This I learned about recently. I was calling my cousin and her husband on line 1. But she called me back while I was dialing and it ending up dialing line 2. This is fascinating to me and a good extra benefit.

Summary

I have OBI022 hooked up to Google Voice and Ring To. And Obi120000 hooked up to Google Voice.

I have this system hooked up to a DECT Vtech phone system, which is set up with Vtech phones over the condo. But I prefer making calls via the Obi1022. The HD sound quality is excellent.

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Obihai 200 revisited

About 6 months ago, I wrote a post entitled. Now I thought I would revisit my research and testing.

OBI200//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.jsMagicJack

MagicJack has been ruled out for these reasons:

  • It does heat up from usage
  • I find you need to activate it via a PC, rather than directly through a router
  • It is a cheaper manufacturing process, when compared to Ooma or Obihai

Now there are only two choices. But Obihai does have advantages I really enjoy. They have official relationships with Google Voice and Ring To, which are both free services. I have OBI200 hooked up to Google Voice and Ring To. And Obi2200 hooked up to Google Voice.

Google Voice is a tab ahead of Ring To. But for my mobile phone and Android devices at WiFi locations, Ring To is the better option. That’s because you really need to work Google Voice via Google Hangouts. For Ring To, I can go through the apps Ring To and GroovIP.

Ooma:

Ooma reminds me of a big answering box. It’s also said to function as a router, between the modem and computer. I don’t recommend it. With services like Ooma or Vonage – both of which I have used – it’s best to use a router between the VOIP device and the modem. Of course, Ooma will try to up-sell you to the Ooma premier, where the box functions both as a call screener and a message box.

But I did run into a couple obstacles:

I used to be on Ooma Premier subscriber. Before porting over to Ring To, I switched to Ooma basic. But I had to work with 2 different techs there, in order to get the switch made. Apparently, the first tech had some kind of misunderstanding – even through I had them send me an email confirmation. Then I had a junk spike in calls after the switch. This occurred even though I am on the Federal Do Not Call list. But I can’t necessary call this a cause and effect condition. In statistics, it would be a correlation.

The key to Ooma is to get the tech to send you an email, summarizing what was said and done. This way, if there is a misunderstanding down the road, you have a record of everything.

I have my home number moved over to Ring To. But I have a couple of Google Voice numbers I migrated over there for testing purposes. Even though I follow the directions Ring To gave, I can’t get the ported number to display on Caller ID. But Ring To has a great online community. I just needed to install and reinstall the service and apps, in order to remove the cache component. Everything worked like a charm.

The other issue is rebooting the devices. When I reboot an Obihai device, it takes about a minute or so to finish. But with Ooma, it actually takes five minutes or so. Perhaps it’s also checking for firmware upgrades.

None of these issues is a problem with Obihai. It’ can support Google Voice, Ring To or other.

Obi200

Firmware updates

I like to check my Windows 10 and Android devices daily for either operating system or application software updates. I make a weekly check on my Obihai devices for firmware updates. This way, you insure the systems are running as smoothly as possible, with the latest bells and whistles.

I have this system hooked up to a DECT Vtech phone system, which is set up with Vtech phones over the condo. It works just as well – if not better than – the Ooma system. And it’s much more cost effective.

But I do have the Ooma system to give away. I’ll ship it free via Priority Mail in the US and I have a free activation code from Ooma. Let me know in my contact section, if you are interested. But I’ll first try to give it away to friends and family members.

In 2 – 3 weeks, I’ll be following up with a review on the OBI1022 HD phone. I need some time to study and test it.

Ooma-Obihai Hybrid

I have been experimenting with the following VOIP systems:

  • Magic Jack Go
  • Ooma
  • Obihai

Now I thought I would take some time to summarize things. I’ve been using Ooma for two years and I have used MagicJack and Obihai in the past. Now let’s look at the different systems and their pluses and minuses

MagicJack

The problem is that it comes with a cheap Ethernet cable and a cheap USB power charger. In order to have the MagicJack work and last longer, you need to replace these components with ones from places like Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.

The MagicJack component is not recognized by my router, until after I plug it into my computer USB port and register it. Ooma and Obihai components can be registered, just by plugging them into the router.

They do not have a 911 service included and can’t tell you what the price would be for your area – in advance.

On the plus side, they do have a good Android and IOS app. And they have a B rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

Obihai

There’s really no down side here. You just need to register it with a vendor approved service provider. I did this with Ring To and Google Voice, on an Obihai 202 device. It’s also recommended to check each week for firmware updates. They are not automatically provided.

Ooma

The only downside is the higher hardware cost, as well as the F rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

The plus side is that the called are both compressed and encrypted. I have run this off a Linksys router, via the Comcast service. It works very well. But I don’t like to pay the higher cost for the primer service. So I have come up with the Ooma/Obihai 202 hybrid.

To use the hybrid, I needed to set up Obihai 202 with both Ring To and Google Voice. And Google Voice would also ring my Ooma device and cell phone – but not the Ring To number on Obihai. Otherwise, there might be a conflict on the Obihai side.

Ooma-Obihai hybrid

I gain the following advantages by using the hybrid

  • All lines are under Google Voice
  • There will be two separate lines. And in the second line, I can switch between Ring To and Google Voice
  • I can call anywhere in the US on all three systems and anywhere in Canada on Google Voice
  • There are Android apps for Ring To, Google Voice and Ooma
  • I have 911 service on Ooma, as well as Obihai
  • If one device goes out, I have a backup in place. And the cell phone will be a backup for the VoIP systems

Here’s what I lose with the new Hybrid

  • Name look-up on caller id
  • Some advance filtering that filters out junk calls. But I do have all numbers – including the Google Voice one – registered with the US federal do not call list.

Some Ooma and Magic Jack Go issues and fixes

As you know from reading previous posts, I’ve been an Ooma user for 2 years. And I’ve been very happy with it. But due to hardware costs, I’m replacing it with:

  • Obihai 200 configured with Ring To and Google Voice
  • MagicJack Go as a backup.

This is in addition to my cell phone plan. But some issues have come up in testing and I’ll go over them and the solutions.

The first one was that MagicJack supplied cable. When I tried it, the MagicJack couldn’t register an Internet connection, when connected to the router. The solution was just to replace it with a standard Ethernet cable.

The next issue was the unit was getting warm. I did a Google search on “MagicJack getting hot” and found others had the issue. Then I came across this video on YouTube and looked into the comments section:

One viewer had this great comment:

“I will tell you from personal experience, separate the ac plug from the mj plus box it heats up less saving the ac plug from going out again, i separated mine with the jumper plug it comes with and now the box isn’t even half as hot what it used to be, think what happens is the ac plug and box both create a lot heat and put together its like a heat bomb ready go off, do the separation now and save later from replacing the ac adapter, this is why it goes bad.”

So there are two issues here and two solutions, based upon this video and my Google search.

  • The first is to buy a replacement power adapter that has the specs of five volts and one amp output. Or a universal one you can set to those variables. I found one for twelve dollars at Walmart, that was both a serge protector and a USB device charger. Just keep the original black one for warranty issues.
  • The second one is that MagicJack supplies an extension adapter for use, when you register the device via your computer USB port the first time. From my Google search, some folks are plugging this in between the charger and the MagicJack device. So I’ve followed this advice with the new USB device charger and the MagicJack device.

This did solve my heating issue with MagicJack.

There’s another thing I discovered and it proved to be interesting. I have access to Hoovers via the College of Dupage online library resources. I decided to look at MagicJack and Ooma on both Hoovers and the BBB (i.e. Better Business Bureau) sites.

In the Hoover research, Ooma appears to have much great annual sales then MagicJack. I think they also have more on site employees.

But in the BBB search, I found some interesting items. First of all, I thought that MagicJack would get a low rating. But they are a BBB accredited business. While they had a large number of complaints issued, they did resolve a lot of them – to the BBB site’s satisfaction. And they earned a B rating.

Ooma had far fewer complaints lodged against them. But they failed to provide a satisfactory resolution to many of them – according to BBB standards. And the BBB gave them an F rating.

Well, that did surprise me.

Obihai with Google Voice plus Ring To and MagicJack Go

For two years now, I have used Ooma as my home phone service. It’s really a great product and functions well. It has gotten good reviews on Amazon. But it does cost money to replace the hardware. This is why I have searched for some alternatives. Ring To and Google Voice are approved vendors for certain Obihai devices. In my case, I have used Obihai 200. MagicJack Go has made inroads with their mobile device apps. And they would not be expensive to replace. If you buy them on Amazon, you can purchase an inexpensive Square Trade warranty package.

First, there is some preparation one should do for Obihai

You need to open a Google Voice account and pick a phone number. Then tie a phone (i.e. your cell phone) to the Google Voice number. Install Google Hangouts and Google dialer on your Android device. Proceed to make a few calls with it.

Open up a Ring To account and get a number assigned. Install Groovip on your Android device and proceed to make a few calls with it.

The MagicJack Go is a bit trickier. They claim you can just plug it into your router and it will recognize it. Well, over the years, I have had the same router and could just plug and play Vonage, Net Duo, Ooma and Obihai devices into it and they were recognized. But for some reason, I needed to plug the MagicJack into my computer’s USB port and go through the registration. Then I could just plug the device into my router. And regardless of what the vendor says, don’t use the device as a router. Plug it behind a good router instead. I had too many problems when I first started out, using a Vonage device as a router. It just wasn’t robust enough.

So why two devices and three different services?

The Ring To will eventually be a replacement for my home phone service. I will eventually port my home phone number from Ooma to Ring To.

MagicJack Go will function as a business number, since I am a small business owner.

Google Voice will be the front end to all my numbers, for family and close friends. And it will be the preferred way for calling people, in conjunction with my cell phone service.

For a period of two months, I’m testing Obihai 200 and MagicJack Go, while I run Ooma as my main service. This way, I can run various tests and insure the service holds up.

Ooma is still better in my opinion than Vonage. And their mobile app is not all that bad. But I still think Obihai is better – as long as you go with their approved vendor list. Then it’s really not all that hard to configure and set up. Otherwise, it could be a bit geeky.

Magic Jack Go review

Currently I have Ooma for a home phone service. They have great reviews and overall ratings on Amazon. I also have had great service with them. As a premier, they have an Android app with unlimited minutes (i.e. a cap does exist somewhere, just like with Magic Jack). But I noticed that Magic Jack has great reviews on Google Play. It’s time to give that a try off of Amazon.

The first thing is to figure out how to activate it. Unlike Ooma or Obihai devices that are detected off the router, Magic Jack doesn’t work like that. I’ve tried it and it didn’t work. But this YouTube video is very good and I followed the steps.

But there are two problems I ran into. I like to emphasize that you should first research the problems on Google or Bing. Enter the right keywords or phase. Don’t chat with the Magic Jack chat, as you might find the answer yourself much easier. Let’s look at my two problems.

  • After I went through the PC activation process, I plugged the Magic Jack into my router. But I was getting a number 1 – no Internet connection message – via the phone. Now it was time to try an experiment. The Ethernet cable that came with Magic Jack is flat. My Ooma device is also connected to my router – no problem. What is the problem?  It was time to substitute a standard cable I had lying around. It was round in diameter – not flat like the Magic Jack cable. Now I had Internet connection. My advice? Use another standard cable to substitute for the Magic Jack provided one. If you don’t have one, go to Walmart, Target, Myers, Sam’s Club or Costco and buy one.
  • The second problem was aloud humming noise that occurred – after a few hours. But a Google search came up with articles at Magic Jack humming noise 1 and Magic Jack humming noise 2. The answers they suggested centered around grounding. Time for an experiment. First I tried plugging the Magic Jack into different outlets – no change. Then I swapped the cordless phone from Ooma for my Magic Jack. Then I hooked up the corded phone into Ooma. Ooma now had the humming noise and Magic Jack was fine. The answer was to go to Walmart and purchase a Vtech cordless phone for the Magic Jack. Problem solved.

I’ve made some communication tests with the Ooma, Magic Jack and Google Hangouts dialer app. The quality is quite good, but I also run the VOIP phones off a hi-speed cable setup. Ooma premier has many more bells and whistles then Magic Jack. But Magic Jack is not bad, if you follow the steps I recommend. The only issue with the Ooma app was there was no end call button.  Support had me uninstall and install it.  I think they should have it available as an update – like other apps.

Anyway, here is a tip. When you access Facebook, web, etc. at home, you are going off the mobile network and chewing away at data caps. When they are reached, the data is then throttled (i.e. slowed down). If you have a router and set up a home network, the cell phone can connect to it at home. So if you connect to your home WiFi (or public WiFi with a VPN app), it uses that to connect to Internet, etc.

Moving to South America? That’s radical!

South America first

Español: Centro Histórico de Quito, Iglesia de...

Español: Centro Histórico de Quito, Iglesia del Sagrario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A former business partner and friend needs some advice. But he casually mentions going to South America. Time to give him some thoughts to think about:

Let’s first talk about South America. That’s radical. Why? Are you involved with someone down there? If I were relocating to South America, I would look into Ecuador first and Uruguay second. But perhaps you should look at Panama or Mexico first – they are closer.

About 50% of expats leave a Latin American country for the following reasons:

  • They haven’t adapted to speaking the native language – usually Spanish. Or in Brazil, it is Portuguese.
  • They haven’t adapted to Manana time – which really means not today, and tomorrow it might be not today, etc.
  • There is a different set of values and customs the natives live by and the expats haven’t adapted.

Usually, it they can survive 2 years and adjust to these 3 broad areas, then there should be few problems.

Panama next

Then I have my own questions and research on Latin America, which I need to just get the finishing touches on an expat forum.
I thought I would bring this topic up. According to resources that have written books on Panama and work at English speaking Panama newspapers, I can import homeopathic remedies from the US – no problem. Now there are supposed to be a couple health food stores in Panama that carry these items. And a Google search for “homeopatia Farmacia Panama”, have come up with some names. And there appear to be homeopathic practitioners in Panama. So have I been given correct info, that I can either obtain homeopathic remedies in Panama (i.e. via health food store and/or homeopatia Farmacia”), or import them from the US?

Now Ecuador

Then folks use Magic Jack, Vongage and Skype, so time to put in my two cents worth, in an Ecuador expat forum.

f you go to Amazon and look at Magic Jack, you see that over 1000 reviews rate it – on average – 3 out of 5 stars. I prefer Skype with a phone line number and/or Ooma (a bit more pricey but has excellent overall reviews on Amazon). You can also use Google hangouts. I recommend to connect all these devices to a router with a cable, rather than WIFI. If both parties have hi-speed Internet connections, they work much better. Be sure all you computer operating system software, router and cable modem firmware, video camera, etc., has the latest production patches.

Ooma is much cheaper than Vonage. In my opinion, it is much more reliable. In the US many years ago, Vonage convinced me to use their device, between the modem and my computer. I constantly had problems and had to call both Vonage and Comcast. Finally, I brought a Linksys router and attached the Vonage device to it. If I had any problems then, it was just with Vonage. I just had to reboot the Vonage device.

Currently, they have been advertising Basic Talk on TV. I have read it really is Vonage, but with less features and a more attractive price.