OBIHAI, Google Voice, and our free
OBi200 VoIP phone adapter - 2015 Review
my trusty OBIHAI OBi200 VoIP phone adapter
OBIHAI OBi200 VoIP phone adapter
Last Updated: February 7, 2018
Review Summary: I highly recommend the
OBIHAI Obi200 VoIP phone adapter.
It works. When you combine the OBi200 with Google Voice, you get a FREE home
phone line that works just like a "regular" landline. We've been using
the OBi200 and Google Voice for our home phone for about a year (purchased
October 7, 2014), and
never had problems. The OBi200 works and is reliable, and the call quality
is crystal clear. We were paying Verizon $31.22 after tax per month for a basic
landline phone. Now our phone costs us nothing... nada... zilch. And we have
free long distance calling anywhere in the US. And with Google voice, all of
the add-on features like voice mail, call forwarding, etc, are free, whereas with Verizon we didn't have them because they would charge an additional
monthly fee for every single feature. If you want a free landline phone,
consider the OBi200 and Google Voice. My only complaint would be with myself
for not doing this sooner!
Background: My first experience with VoIP (voice-over-IP or
voice-over-internet) phone calls was several years ago when my father-in-law
called us when he was on a trip in China using some new-fangled technology
called Skype. The phone call quality was marginal at best and I was not at
all impressed. Then a few years ago my brother called us using a new service
called Google Voice. Again, the call quality was marginal and created my
impression that VoIP and/or Google Voice meant garbled/broken phone calls
that one had to strain to hear or could hardly understand. Fortunately, last
year I decided to give VoIP and Google Voice another chance. I was getting
really tired of paying Verizon over $30 a month for a home landline phone
that we really didn't use very much because we generally were using our cell
phones for phone calls. I'm not sure how exactly I heard about OBIHAI, but I
decided to get their OBi200 VoIP phone adapter and give it a try. The OBi200
was under $50 at Amazon which was less than what I'd pay Verizon in two
months. After setting up our new VoIP phone number, I still kept our Verizon
service for another two months just in case the VoIP phone didn't work out,
but after 2 months of solid reliable OBi200 phone service, I cancelled our
traditional Verizon landline service. The Verizon representative I spoke
with gave me the impression I wasn't the only person dropping their
traditional landline phone service...
my home office set up [OBIHAI OBi200 VoIP phone adapter middle left]
Works with Google Voice (which is FREE!)
OBi200 also works with other VoIP service providers like Anveo, Callcentric,
Localphone, VoIP.ms and a multitude of other SIP Internet phone services
Has One Phone Port
Supports T.38 faxing
Easy to Set Up
No monthly service free! OBIHAI service is FREE!
back of the OBIHAI OBi200 VoIP phone adapter
Setting up the OBi200 VoIP phone adapter and a new Google Voice phone
number was simple. Since then, I haven't touched the OBi200,
and I've never had a problem with it. It just works.
STEP 1) The OBi200 comes with the OBi200 device, a power supply, an ethernet
cable, and paper instructions. The first step is to hook up the device.
First, you plug your phone into the phone port. Second, you plug an ethernet
cable into the ethernet port and either your broadband internet router or
modem, Finally you connect the power supply to the power port. The front of
device has three simple lights. On the left is the Operational indicate that
lights solid green to show the device is powered and operational. In the
middle is the Data indicator that is normally green and then flashes when
there is data activity, and on the right is Phone indicate that is solid
green when your phone is ready and flashes when your phone is in use.
STEP 2) Next, you verify the device works by dialing a special OBiTALK test
phone number. Once you confirm it works, you can call other people on the
OBiTALK network, but most of us want to finish up and be able to use the
phone like a regular landline!
STEP 3) Next you go to obitalk.com and set up an OBiTALK account. The
website has easy to follow on-screen instructions that lead you through the
simple process. Once your device is registered and added to obitalk.com,
you're ready to connect the device to a Google Voice number or to another
VoIP service provider. Again, the website has easy to follow on-screen
instructions that lead you through the simple process.
GOOGLE VOICE: Google Voice is free. You can get a
phone number to use at
http://www.google.com/voice . Google Voice has all sorts of nice
features, all of which are free. Voice mail is very easy to set up. You can
also port your existing phone number over to Google Voice (there is a small
charge), but I would first set up a new number to try Google Voice and
confirm you like it. Once you know you're happy with it, you can port your
old number over and replace your new Google Voice number with your old
Voice update - I now also use a different separate free Google Voice number for my
cell phone service. I wrote a guide on
how to get a free Google
Voice number and also how to use Google Hangouts for your cell phone
service. For cell phone service, when you're not on wifi, you'll need some cellular data for
Hangouts to work so you can send and receive calls and text. You can get
free AT&T cellular data with a FreedomPop LTE sim. Yes, it's really free! Read my
FreedomPop LTE sim review.
About the only requirement for using the OBi200 is that you need a decent
broadband internet connection to insure high-quality calls. The download
speed isn't that important, and you don't need to pay for a lot of
bandwidth. We have the Cox Cable "Starter" Internet package with 5Mbps
download speed and it is more that sufficient.
Another nice thing about the OBi200 is that it does not require a computer.
It works entirely on its own, and it doesn't matter if your computer is
turned on or off.
It's like having a landline phone, but it's absolutely free (including long
distance). We've been using the device and service for
almost a year
almost three years as of May 2017! The
call quality is crystal clear. All the call we make and receive work. My
only gripe is that I didn't do this earlier!
The OBIHAI OBi200 VoIP phone adapter combined with Google Voice works. If
you're still paying for a landline phone, you should really try out the
buy the OBi200 phone adapter from Amazon
THE FUTURE OF (FREE) GOOGLE VOICE:
You might be hesitant to try the OBi200 because you aren't sure how long
Google Voice will be free, or will even be around. I would say this: Even if
Google Voice started charging and/or disappeared, OBi200 also works with
several other VoIP services. But I really doubt Google will drop Google
Voice. It doesn't cost much at all for them to run it, and it gives them a
foot hold into the phone service sector. I also don't think they'll start
charging for it any time soon. I think Google is more interested in growing
the number of subscribers than collecting a token fee from their existing
subscribers. Plus, once a company starts charging for phone service, they
have to start calculating and collecting all the federal, state, and local
taxes, which is no small matter. Plus when people start paying for something
they start expecting a level of customer service that isn't required for a
free service and that can get expensive. Just as I predict gmail will remain
free, so will Google Voice.
Comments / Questions / Feedback:
Comment by Mark on Thursday, March 23, 2017
I keep reading your stories and noticing how many of the same money
saving strategies we employ. Like you, Freedompop, Blu R1HD, refilling
toner cartridges and now the Obihai 200 with Google voice. The Obihai
service is what I wonder about this round. I have my GV# connected to
the OBI and also forwarded to my H2O traditional cell phone. If I try to
call my GV# FROM my H2O cell phone the call goes straight to Google
Voice Mail. I recreated this situation with another T-Mobile cell phone
and get the same results. This was not always the case and is something
that has changed in the last few months(<6). Wondering if you have a GV-Cell-OBI
combo like this and seen similar results. Mark
Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
I am reminded of the saying, "Great minds think alike." Seriously though, I
do think the Obihai is a no-brainer for a free landline if one has high
speed internet. Now if only I could come up with a way to get free home high
speed internet! As for your question, I have a Google Voice number that rings
both my Obi200 and a cell phone that I have hangouts on. My phone plugged into
the Obi200 always rings. If I don't answer it, eventually it will go to Google
Voice voicemail. If I have any problems, it is that usually my cellphone with
Hangouts also rings right away, but sometimes it is delayed or doesn't ring.
Have you confirmed that the Google CHAT box on your Google Voice account is
checked? Also, I might be confused, but if you have your GV number forward to a
cellphone, and then you call from the cellphone it is forwarded to, I would
think it would get a busy signal and go to voicemail. That is, it makes sense
that maybe you can't call yourself. Do I understand this correctly?
Comment by Fred on Friday, May 12, 2017
I had Google Voice Voip for my house phone but got a notice, a few years
back that they were stopping Voip service through GV. I purchased
service through Phonepower since. If GV is working again for my home
phone, I'd like to know so I can save a few bucks.
Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Fred, I think back in 2014 before I got my Obi200, there was talk of
Google Voice ending support for ObiHai, and maybe they even did for a while, but
then they worked out a deal, and Google Voice has been supporting Obihai ever
since. In any event, it's worked fine ever since I bought my Obi200 in 2014 and
set it up with a free Google Voice phone number. So I've had free home phone
service ever since (for almost three years now), and I was just talking on my
phone this morning. So as of today, everything still works! I'd definitely
recommend you get on and try it out.
Comment by Scooter on Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Hi Steve, Really glad to see you start a page for Google Voice services.
I've really enjoyed your FreedomPop information page.
I've been using GV since it was Grand Central. They were purchased by
Google to create Google Voice. I wanted to ditch my AT&T landline ($45 a
month) and finally did a couple of years ago using an Obi 200 with a
company called PhonePower. They have a deal for Obi users for $34.99 a
year. There are some usage limits with PhonePower but I don't use very
many minutes of outgoing calls each month. No limit on incoming calls. I
wanted to transfer my existing phone numbers directly to GV and
eliminate PhonePower, but Google would not let me port in my landline
numbers. They said something about you can only transfer in from a
mobile number. Do you know if that has changed.
Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Scooter, Great comment and question! I don't know the history of Google
Voice, and didn't know it started as Grand Central and was acquired by Google.
Thanks for the history lesson! I also don't know anything about PhonePower, but
if you are paying them, it makes sense to port your number to Google Voice and
get your "landline" service with the Obi200 for free. As far as I know, Google
Voice only allows you to port in a traditional "mobile/cellular" phone number,
and not any number that it recognizes as a traditional landline number or a VOIP
number. There is a way to do it though, but it's a two step process. You need an
unlocked GSM cell phone and a T-Mobile pre-paid card. First you set up the
T-Mobile pre-paid card which comes with it's own number on your cell phone. Then
you port your landline or voip number to the T-Mobile account. It is now a
"cellular" number, and you can then port it to Google Voice. If you search on
Google, I think there are guides on how to do this. I checked and the T-Mobile
prepaid sim card is on sale for $10 (normally $25) with free shipping on T-Mobile.com.
So you have the cost of the T-Mobile sim card and then Google Voice charges $20
to port a number in, plus the whole process takes a couple extra days because of
the double port. So it isn't super easy, but I think it is possible. Good luck,
and let me know how it goes if you do it. Thanks!
Comment by Greg Brown on Thursday, December 28, 2017
Hi Steve, I have never owned an Obi but have been reading about peoples
experiences with them. The Obi110 was given a "end of life" status in
2016 so Obihai would no longer have to support it and users would have
to buy a newer model. I have never heard of a company doing that to its
products. Imagine a part breaking (and is no longer available) on your
1-6 year old car and having to buy another car! Maybe if that happens to
someone at Obihai they'll rethink their strategy. If not, the Obi200
will probably go through the same "end of life" soon. My question is:
Can the Google Voice number associated with the Obi device be rescued
from Obihai and used with another VOIP product? One user said he could
not get his GV number to work properly after cancelling his Obihai
account and disconnecting the Obi110 box. It acted like Obihai was
intercepting the incoming number and his phone would not ring and the
caller gets a "cannot complete the call" message.
Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Greg, Good questions. Other companies also have "end of life" for their
products. I'm thinking of Microsoft Windows (95, XP, 7, etc) and also several HP
printers I have that they won't warranty anymore, and parts are no longer made
for them. So I think "end of life" just means that the product is pretty old and
the company is not going to provide service or continue to make parts or update
software. End of life doesn't mean that the product automatically stops
working... you can continue to use it as long as you want (though with software
it becomes more challenging), it's just that the company is not going to
continue to make replacement parts or continue to provide technical support.
Anyway, I'm happy with my Obi200 and have more than gotten my $50 bucks from it,
and will continue to use it until it doesn't work (sort of like Windows XP). If
I have to buy a new device every 8 years or so, I'm still ahead of the game.
I've got several old cell phones that are now essentially paperweights. They
still work, but not on today's systems (analog vs digital, 2G vs 3G vs 4G).
As for a Google Voice number, if you just log into your Google Voice account and
uncheck a box, it no longer forwards to the Obi device, as far as I know, so I
don't see how Obi can not release a GV number, since they don't control it. Hope
Reply by Greg
Hi Steve, thanks for the reply. So, timing is everything as far as when to
buy their products. I would hate to buy the Obi200 now and have it cut off
in less than 2 years. I think I'll wait for their new model to come out
seeing that the 200 is somewhat old now (by their measure.) I'll continue
using Google Voice without the Obi hardware (just mic and speakers) as I
have done for 3 years.
Reply by Steve (Cranial Borborygmus)
Hi Greg, If you already have a free phone line set-up that is working for
you, I can understand your hesitation. That said, I think the Obi200 series
will continue to work for quite a while, and I also don't think there is any
imminent "end of life" on the horizon for it since there is not a Obi300
series yet. As for the Obi100 series, as far as I know, they still work just
fine. ObiHai is just saying that if Google Voice makes any changes, they
won't make any new software updates for the Obi100 because of the "end of
life" for it.
For any readers who are currently paying for a landline, I continue to
recommend they switch over to get free service with the Obi200 and a Google
Voice number, since people will quickly make back their investment in the
Obi200 by no longer needing to pay a monthly phone service bill.
Comment by Ben on Wednesday, February 07, 2018
Great article! Thanks for the useful information!
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