The Bottom Line:
There is no clearly better device. They both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.
For a more portable and much cheaper device, we suggest the Magic Jack. For a more permanent device, number porting,
or the ability to use the phone without leaving your computer on, we suggest the Ooma Telo.
Reviewed by: Mordy GildenReviewed on: 1/18/2010 10:59:52 AM
What They Claim: Both the Magic Jack and Ooma Telo stormed the market with claims save you money by providing no-monthly-cost phone service. These products are both similar, in that they use VOIP technology to replace your standard, costly landline. However, there are a number of differences that are relevant to those loking into buying one of these systems.
What We Found: As sound quality on both devices is comparable, we focused our attention the differences between these products.
The Magic Jack is a small, portable USB device that plugs directly into your computer. Your standard telephone can then be plugged into the small USB device to power your phone. Though this results in ease and portability, it does mean that you will need to keep your computer powered on for your phone to work. Furthermore, when you place a call or receive a call, there is an annoying popup with advertising space that appears on your screen. These inconveniences may be tolerable to someone who needs the portability of the Magic Jack (such as someone who travels frequently or needs to use the phone over a wireless internet connection.) The Ooma Telo, on the other hand, is a dedicated device. You plug your network cable and phone directly into the Ooma Telo, and viola - service. The obvious benefit here is that you do not need to keep your computer on for the Ooma Telo to function.
There are differences in the services offered by each of these phones. Both Magic Jack and Ooma offer the ability to receive your voicemails as MP3 email attachments. The Ooma does have one advantage when it comes to voicemail - it has a built in answering machine on the box, so you will not need to use your computer to access your voicemail. Unfortunately, some of the advanced features of the Ooma (such as remote access to voicemail) are not included in basic service. These features require a paid subscription to Ooma Premier, whereas with the Magic Jack, some of these features are included. It must be noted that the Magic Jack does not offer all of the same features as the Ooma - most notably (we thought) - the ability to port your old number. With the Magic Jack, this is not possible at all. The Ooma Telo allows porting your old number for a one-time-fee.
Perhaps the most notable difference between these two devices is the price. The Ooma Telo charges an initial $200-$300 for the device, and $11.75 annually in taxes and fees. The Magic Jack has an initial $40 price tag and $20 yearly fee. Though the Magic Jack yearly fee is higher, it would take a significant amount of time for the amount you've invested in Magic Jack to exceed the amount you would have spent on the Ooma Telo. After 10 years, the total investment in the Ooma id $417.50 and the cost of the Magic Jack is $240. After 35 years, the total cost paid for the Ooma will reach $711.25 while the Magic Jack will reach $740. That's a long time before you end up saving money on the Ooma.
The Bottom Line: It's difficult to pick a clear winner. Each device has its own benefits and disadvantages. If you are seeking low initial investment and portability, we would have to say go with the Magic Jack. If you prefer a dedicated phone line without needing to keep your computer powered on, the Ooma Telo might be a better choice. Just remember to check the features of the Ooma Telo before you buy. As some of the features will require the paid Ooma Premier service, make sure that you are either willing to pay or that you can do without the special features. It is also important to note that if you must port your old number, only the Ooma Telo will allow it.
There is more to say about each of these devices, but we're out of space. For more detailed information about each device, check out our reviews of the Magic Jack and Ooma Telo.
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