aNewDomain.net—The move to VoIP calling has given many options for free or near free phone calls. The Obi202 lets you make and receive calls over your high-speed Internet connection and is one of the best available VoIP devices.
The OBi is different from other devices of its type because you pay only for the device. It is not locked into any service. With the Obi you can use your regular land line and/or any VoIP Internet service provider like Google Voice, Callcentric, Anveo or VoIP.ms. There are hundreds more, and you can change at any time.
The OBi202 is a two-port ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter), with a built-in router, from OBihai Technology Inc. It hooks up directly to your router. No computer is needed.
In addition to the calling service that you receive from your service, Obi-to-OBi calls are free, meaning you can call any other OBi device in the world at no cost. If you use a free VoIP provider like Google Voice even better, there are no monthly or yearly costs. Google Voice users can also use the OB1202 with their Gmail account for low-cost calling overseas. Other SIP services also provide similar low cost overseas calling services.
The included Quick Start Guide takes you through the step-by-step physical set up. It is as easy as connecting the OBi, phone, and router with the included cables and making a test call. Once that is complete, you surf over to www.obitalk.com and it will walk adding your VoIP service to your OBi.
The Obi 202 supports two telephone lines, which you can use with two (actually up to four) different services, if you like. While the OBi202 phone ports can function independently, the OBi202 also offers collaborative features which allow its phone ports to work together as a mini-phone system.
The OBi202 is equipped with a Fast Ethernet router with firewall and integrated QoS (quality of service) that ensures voice conversations are prioritized on the network, before all other traffic. This guarantees clarity of calls, which my testing confirmed.
By adding a small OBiWiFi Wireless Adapter that plugs into the Obi 202, you can place your OBi anywhere within range of your Wi-Fi network. This freedom is really handy if your Internet router happens to be in a place where you don’t want or need a phone.
An optional Bluetooth dongle is also available that allows you to hook up your mobile phone to the OBi. This is easy to do and allows you to make and receive calls with any connected telephones. This worked quite well. With the addition of a small USB hub, both the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapter can be used simultaneously. Or you can add a second Bluetooth adapter for a second cell phone.
The OBi offers many additional features. There is support for mobile apps, call waiting, conference calling, caller ID, faxing, and more. When combined with the special services offered by the SIP you are using, the variety of services is almost endless.
Retail price: OBi 202 $74.99; OBi Bluetooth Adapter, $25: OBiWiFi Wireless Adapter, $25
Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at Sandy@aNewDomain.net. Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger, +SandyBerger on Google+, and www.facebook.com/sandyberger on Facebook.