Landlines have been on the way out for the last decade as more users switch to relying exclusively on their mobile device for phone connections. Possibly the only other growing sector of the phone industry is VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, which allows customers to use their broadband connection as a phone line. Growth in companies like the ubiquitous MagicJack or the somewhat less known Ooma have proven that there is a growing interest in dropping the regular phone connection for one that's tied into your internet connection. Now there's another option, and it's tied into the very popular Google Voice service.
Obihai's OBi100 VoIP phone adapter is connected to both your router and your regular home phone, bridging the connection between standard landline and VoIP connections. It's basically as simple as it sounds, plug-and-play, but there are a few settings that need setup before you can start making calls. Overall it's a very simple procedure, and you can be on the phone over your internet connection in less than 10 minutes. The biggest bonus is that since Google Voice is a free service, and there's no recurring fee with the OBi100, once you make the initial investment it's all free local and long-distance calling for the foreseeable future. Google has already confirmed that their Voice service will remain free through at least 2013, so this is certainly an option worth considering.
Despite the fact that it's missing "blacklisting", which allows users to permanently block certain numbers such as telemarketers, it does feature an impressive list of features:
- Caller ID
- Call Forwarding
- Anonymous Call Blocking
- Three-Way Conference Calls
There are other unappealing aspects of using the OBi100, like the fact that you can't port over you landline number, which is actually a Google Voice issue. Likely the biggest deal breaker for many consumers is the lack of 911 support. The price tag can make up for a lot though, since the unit itself is only going to set you back about $40 one time at Amazon. That's less than many people pay monthly for their landline service. It's an interesting idea, and one that seems very popular based on the sales and reviews from Amazon. So, what about you? Have you considered replacing your landline with an OBi?