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Welcome everyone! Today is Friday June 2, 2017 and since we didn’t quite end off the last article with a positive solution for your VoIP needs, I am going to try to bring you one right now! Today is going to be a battle royale between OOMA, OBI, Magic Jack, and Google Voice. You have probably heard of most of these companies already, but do you think they are better equipped to help the small business sector?
If you’re in a hurry:
This specific forwarding service is most popular with our readers for small business use.
Pro buying tip: this article will help you understand which phone service works best for voip phones vs cell phones.
We’re going to find out as we discover more about these companies today and hopefully we find that magic solution you have been looking for! I want to ask every one of you small business owners out there something. That something is, “what is attractive to you about VoIP services”? This might sound redundant when I write things like this to you, but it is always important to justify when your small business actually needs something.
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If you answered with someone like, “because I want it”, remember this isn’t supposed to be for personal choice, but it is supposed to be something that will benefit your small business. Every choice you make that is regarding your business should ALWAYS be about YOUR business. If it is strictly about you then perhaps you should forget the purchase altogether as a business need. Furthermore, ask yourself one last question. Ask yourself, “what do I want this product to do for my small business”. That question should cut out most of the personal wants, or biases on why you are choosing a specific product or service for business needs. Batter up!
Have you seen the cheapest business line you can take with you anywhere?
Are These Free Voip Alternatives Like Ooma And Google Voice Reliable Enough To Use As A Small Business Line?
The first company we will be introducing today is OOMA! If you want to go ahead and check them out before you read the entirety of this review their website is http://www.ooma.com. You know what, go ahead and visit the site anyways to check out their awesome layout! This is something right down our alley! What? No way! Yes, this company wants us, the small business owners to know they are keeping us in the forefront of their minds! At the very top left of their website there is two links you can click titled FOR HOME, or FOR BUSINESS, go ahead click the FOR BUSINESS link. What does it say on the next page in big white letters? Okay, I will go ahead and tell those of you that don’t feel like visiting their site just yet. It says, and I quote in big white letters on a red background, “Get more Features and Spend Less On Your Small Business Phone”. We might have found a diamond in the rough! Right on! I am hooked now, so let’s see if this is another small business essential. What can you offer us OOMA? What features, or pricing make you the right choice for us? If we scroll down the webpage just a little we can see they have a bunch of good keywords at the center of this page, and they want to let you know they are affordable, you can use your mobile phone with the software, they offer extension lines, they will offer big business features, and finally they claim an easy setup! OOMA wants you to know that no special wiring is required when setting up their services.
However, why don’t we check out the services before taking a bite out of this cake? If you want strictly the VoIP option the phone is only going to cost you $199.99 right now, and they will include a local and toll free number of your choice along with a virtual fax extension, and most importantly a conference extension for those important meetings!
Additionally, their VoIP software will accommodate twenty users, but if you need additional users it will cost you an extra $19.95 per month which will also buy you another extra virtual fax extension and another phone number. OOMA will also let you keep your existing number, and they even support simultaneous calls. They claim this feature will never let your customers hear a busy signal, but instead roll over calls will be sent straight to your voice mail. Their customer support center is even open twenty-four hours a day, and seven days a week in case you have a technical emergency that can’t wait! That is always a good thing!
Furthermore, OOMA gives you call forwarding, unlimited phone calls to the United Sates and Canada, and Caller ID. Guess what else they offer in the small business package? A virtual assistant that can do just about everything the virtual assistant from 8×8 can do, including putting music on for your customers when they are on hold. Unfortunately, unless you have your own recording setup you will be forced to use the built in voice for this service. However, that’s not all bad. If we double back to their landing page, OOMA has some other great information that is worth mentioning. I am talking about the rating PC Mag gave this company. PC Mag ended up rating OOMA number one VoIP provider for small businesses. Another amazing feature that is something to really pay attention to is if your power ever goes out OOMA will still be accept calls because it is powered by cloud technology. This could be very useful for those unexpected internet service disruptions, or bad weather that ends wreaks havoc around your small business.
In light of those facts, PC Mag ended up giving OOMA an 8.7 rating out of a possible total of 9. That is absolutely wonderful. However, you know how I like doing my own research on these companies to make sure these ratings aren’t some form of bloated hype. For this research I chose to look at different random reviews posted on Amazon.
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According to Amazon, forty-nine percent of the reviews about OOMA are five star reviews. Fourteen percent are four star reviews, five percent are three stars, eight percent are two stars, and, twenty-five percent are one star reviews. When researching further into these statistics I found them to be highly accurate because I was only able to read one actual one star review. On the other hand, the other reviews I manually sorted through weren’t terribly bad. The main complaint most customers had with this company is that sometimes they would receive defective boxes, or the hardware died after about two years. Honestly, I would chalk these kinds of comments as regular wear and tear. I am going to give OOMA the full five star treatment based on my research, their webpage, and their overwhelming support from PC Mag and other outside sources.
OBIHAI VoIP Technology Review
Next, we have Obihai VoIP technology. This thing has quite a bulky design to it, especially when compared to OOMA. OOMA looks very small and compact compared to OBIHAI’s version of the hardware. I am going to go ahead and start with this company’s website again to see if we can find anything that will have our mouths watering for more. By the way, their website is http://www.obihai.com/. Hmm, not to deter anyone, but their website looks like a middle school kid threw this together at the speed of light. It looks very low quality at best. But, wait, it has two similar buttons on the top of the page like OOMA’s website, Obi for My Home, and Obi for My Business. What happens when you click on these? Nothing really changes but the text that tells you next to nothing about the actual service other than it claims to lower your phone bill, increase productivity, and the two systems they list on the business link claims it is ideal for small businesses. Sorry everyone, so far, I don’t feel like I can trust this system. I mean come on these people can develop both new hardware and groundbreaking software, yet they have trouble designing a professional looking website? That alone virtually says, “this product was probably made in the least expensive way possible”. Think cheap, real cheap. The hardware listed in the middle of the sight called Obi508vs Universal IP Adapter costs a whopping $349.99, and only allows you to connect eight VoIP accounts. It does come with Cloud technology though just like the other VoIP companies. I am starting to see a real trend here everybody, can you see it too? Every company and their mother is boasting that “They too use Cloud Technology”. Who cares if you are overpriced, and your product looks like some creepy science project gone wrong with an astronomical price tag? That my friends, is logic. Or, maybe it’s just honest constructive criticism? Who knows, but I am just seeing the same old options vomited back up by different companies who are trying to upsell the other one.
In comparison, this product does somewhat stand for small businesses though. Only allowing eight different VoIP connections are probably ideal for small businesses, and I must give credit where it is due. Also, a new update released by Obihai allows users to integrate their Google voice accounts with OBI. This means that you can make VoIP calls from your regular telephone as long as both are synced together. I kind of want to think this is rather very outdated technology to an extent. I managed to find an awards page listed on their website and the last award Obihai received was back in 2011 by Voxilla. This was quite the accomplishment back then, but HELLO it’s 2017. This thing is like a dinosaur. I also get the feeling that google is trying to liquidate the company to some degree as well because most features listed on the OBI devices have the word Google voice attached right next to them. Somebody should tell the owners of Obihai that Google is conspiring to take their business. What else can we discuss about this aging technology?
Moreover, I found another link under the Products tab that said, “Obi for Business”, and that link actually brought up a different page. Yes, a different page that basically was just promoting Ring Central and Nextiva services with the use of their hardware. Enough said about this platform, one star it is. This could be useful for small businesses, but due to the lack of information, and referrals to other companies products I am going to have to tell you to run as fast as you can.
Magic Jack Review
Moving forward, we have the Magic Jack. Yep, you’re right, it is the infomercial product we have all heard at three in the morning. That most certainly doesn’t mean it is impractical though. Alright, just as before we will start out with their website, and see what kind of information we can smuggle from there with one question in mind, “is this the perfect VoIP product for my small business”? The Magic Jack is actually quite a small device you could plug into a power outlet after doing some quick setup via your phone and high speed internet modem. They give step by step instructions on their website how to hook it up correctly. Kudos to them, it lets people know it’s not a complicated job. What is the services Magic Jack actually offers you ask? It specifically just allows you to make local and long distances calls from your computer or regular telephone without an extra phone service. They have also released an application in case you own a smart phone to allow you to make calls, and receive calls from your home number while you are on the go! That is pretty cool, and basically if someone is calling your home line while you are gone you can still answer it via their application! Magic Jack also gives you a free conference calling phone number. That’s a pretty cool feature, right? Yeah, I believe it is, and the best part is that it comes with the service itself. There really isn’t much more to say about this VoIP service, except their prices, and the reviews we will soon discuss. For an entire year of the Magic Jack service it will only cost you thirty-five dollars and they will even include an additional twelve months of free service. I bet that makes your wallet very happy, and it will definitely help it stay full! Sure, there isn’t a bunch of fancy pants features that most big businesses use, but we are the small businesses and sometimes simple is better.
Besides that wad of information, here is what actual customers are saying about the Magic Jack. My review analysis is coming from a website called Consumer Affairs. The web address to check these out is as follows, https://www.consumeraffairs.com/cell_phones/magicjack.html. On that specific link, it lists the company only at two stars. Most of the consumer complaints is about their international plans not working, and bogus charges being billed to their credit card. I even read a few different reviews about numerous people getting charged twice on their credit cards for one subscription. Drum roll please! I am giving the Magic Jack three stars since I haven’t actually tested the product for myself; however, the final nail in the coffin for me was the fact that many different people also complained about the service itself not working at all. If your product doesn’t work, then why are you selling it to consumers? Bad business practices Magic Jack, and billing people multiple times for one account? Get real, and get out of here. You look good on paper, but apparently you’re hiding some dark secrets. This is probably one of those companies that have an office in a dark alley somewhere that must be full of thieves and crooks. Final warning, stay away!
Google Voice Review
We are almost at the grand finale for this article ladies and gentlemen! This is the second to last competitor, from the search engine giant itself, Google Voice. I expect great things with a name like Google attached to something, don’t you? I expect dinner at a five-star restaurant with a two dollar price tag, ha ha. I think I am going to get my wish guys, and I think you are too. I am going out on a limb here, and I am just going to list the excellent features Google Voice offers.
For starters, Google Voice will automatically transcribe your voicemail messages into text messages as well as give you one number for all of your existing phones. Wait, here is something unique. You can even set Google Voice up to have certain phones of yours ring at certain times of day, or even have certain phones ring period. You have to admit that is very unique, no? It like having an extension line that can get up on its own two feet and move from place to place. Furthermore, Google Voice will also allow you to customize your personalized greetings based on who’s calling. For instance, if your job calls you, you could leave a professional greeting, or if a friend calls you, then you can use a more casual greeting meant specifically for them. Google Voice has you covered if you need conference calls too!
Comparatively, Google Voice seems to integrate many features that other companies are trying to charge you for. Take call screening for example, usually this a service you get from a company after paying for the service; but, with Google Voice you have the option to set that up too! There is loads of great features in Google Voice, and most of the features are currently free if you live in the United States. Great news for small businesses everyone! Absolutely, great news!
However, if you want to port your number it will cost you about twenty-dollars. They also list a per minute charge for international calls, but this feature is only for calling France, India, and Mexico. You will be charged, $06, $.01, and $.02 cents respectively for each minute you are on the phone with someone from those said countries. Well, it looks like Google has done it again everyone. I am giving them five stars for their easy no hassle pricing on international calling, and their currently free features just for signing up. This would be a great option for small businesses without spending hundreds of dollars! Need an 800 number instead?
Finally, here is our last competitor in the VoIP review here, and the company is Vonage. Vonage has the basic cookie cutter services for businesses that the previous companies include. I am referring to cloud technology, that keeps coming up, very useful, but such a sales tactic! Also, Vonage lets you have conference calls and thirty nine other features including a virtual assistant for less than $39.99 a month. Pretty good pricing Vonage, pretty good pricing. But, the exact price isn’t listed and there are several forms on various pages of their website that want you to fill out your information to receive an exact price quote. This company is starting to feel like Ring Central and 8×8 all over again. This is another outstanding company with great features, and even great pricing; but, again it is more geared for the corporate world instead of small businesses. In case you want to look more into Vonage, their website is https://www.vonage.com, and their phone number is 1-844-291-4533. If you do decide you would like to give them a shot, call and ask for the best VoIP service for small businesses, and see if they can offer an amazing deal! I should also let you all know that this company does have some impressive reviews just try to avoid any pushy sales tactics like always if you do call. I will finish this review with giving Vonage four stars since it displays a bit of price ambiguity, and the aggressive plan on their website to capture your information.
Conclusion: Which Alternative VoIP Lines for Small Businesses Are The Best Options?
In conclusion, I believe the best VoIP companies to use for your small business would be OOMA, or Google Voice. In this scenario OOMA might have an edge in certain situations, like giving you a virtual assistant; however, Google does have them beat in the pricing department since the service is virtually free besides the international calling. My honest opinion would try to give both companies a shot at hosting your VoIP services, and if you need those extra flashy features like extra extension lines, or maybe you want music to be played when your customers are on hold, then just go with OOMA; but, sooner or later I would be led to believe Google Voice will eventually add them to their arsenal of software features. Google is known for being a monster when it comes to innovation, and I am sure they will not only innovate in this area, but it won’t take too long for them to play catch up either. There you have it everyone. Another multi product review with nothing but brutal honesty. Thank you for taking the time to read about these companies, their VoIP options, and what they can offer you. But, remember to stay away from the bad ones, and as always, don’t take my word for it, do your own research!