Updated, new limited-time Black Friday deals for under $30. Want the features of landline phone service at a drastically reduced price? How about under $50 upfront and then $0 a month? Perhaps you want to drop your landline bill, or you already have but also want to cut back on cellular minutes. Obihai boxes are now officially supported by Google Voice to provide unlimited free USA to USA calls and free USA to Canada calls. Low international per-minute rates as well.
As a result, I bought myself a Obi200 in order to try out their free calls, and also compare the voice quality with my Ooma device. Obihai adapters have been around since 2011, but this is the first Obi product I have purchased. I don’t know that the installation procedure was in the past, but I believe the official integration has made the installation even easier than before. Supposedly the authentication method is also more secure and your Google password is no longer stored. I thought about making a video, but it turned out to be unnecessary.
- Open the box and plug in the cables. AC adapter, telephone line, and ethernet cable to router. All ports are clearly marked. All the cables are included except the phone cable which you should already have. The image below says it all:
Here is the back of the box, showing the ports:
- Write down your unique Obi number. This is clearly printed on the bottom of the Obi200 box. Mine was 9 digits like “123 456 789”.
- Go to your computer and visit ObiTalk.com. Click on the link that says “Register” in the top right corner. Then just follow the directions. Dial a test phone number when it asks. It is easiest to use the “Sign in with Google Account” button since you already have one if you use Google Voice. I didn’t even have to type in my password (as I was already logged in by cookie). They didn’t require name, address, or credit card number. A few confirmation clicks, and that was it.
- Use your phone. I turned on my phone, listened to the dial tone, and called my cell phone. Success! Traditional phone service with unlimited calls within the US and Canada for the great price of $0 a month. The voice quality was fine, and continued to be quite good for the few months that I was using it before giving it away. (I already have the grandfathered fully-free version of Ooma. The voice quality between the two was comparable.)
Total set-up time was under 10 minutes. If for some reason my directions don’t work, check out the official Obi200 Starter Guide [pdf] or their extensive set of tutorials. You can also add e911 service for $15 a year.
Which Obi box model should I buy? I think the sweet spot for most people will be the Obi200, which supports T.38 faxing and has a USB port which can be used to connect to your router over WiFi using an OBiWiFi adapter. (It is the #1 selling VoiP adapter on Amazon.)
The Obi202 offers two independent phone ports so you can use two different VoIP providers simultaneously (or you can have two Google Voice phone numbers). But if you can find one on the cheap, the older OBi100 still works too. Here is a handy comparison chart of the OBi100, OBi110, OBi200, and OBi202.
Current deals, updated November 2015. The manufacturer often subsidizes some limited-time deals, and I’ll try to keep this section updated with the most recent offer.
- Monday 11/23 6:30a to 10:30a PST – Obi202 for $49.95 w/ free shipping as Amazon Lightning Deal. Limited quantities.
- Monday 11/30 6:30a to 10:30a PST – Obi200 for $29.95 w/ free shipping as Amazon Lightning Deal. Limited quantities.
- Friday 11/27 to Monday 11/30 – Obi202 for $49.95 w/ free shipping at Newegg.com.
- Friday 11/27 to Monday 11/30 – Obi200 for $29.95 w/ free shipping at Newegg.com.