Updating by request (thanks, Chad), June 11th, 2012)
Well, we’ve been using the NetTalk Duo as our only home phone system for about 4 months now. Overall, I’d say it is a great value, but there are a few things that could be better.
1) We were unable to activate a new credit card with the company’s auto-activate phone line. We tried 3 different times with 2 different phones hooked to our home system, and it just never worked. It worked the first time with a cell phone. I have not tried to search NetTalk’s forums for this.
2) Sometimes there is a long wait between completing dialing a call and the first ring. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does we might wait 30 seconds or longer before we hear the first ring. The first few times it happened I thought it had maybe missed one or more digits during the dialing and I called again.
3) Sometimes the service does drop digits when entering a code. For example, if I join a conference call for work and have to enter the conference code, some digits are sometimes missed and I have to enter them again. If I slow down just a little, it seems to work reliably.
These issues are really nothing more than minor annoyances, and don’t occur at all most of the time. Call quality seems to be on par with Vonage. The number porting process went without a hitch, although it took 3 or 4 business days to complete. For less than 1/10th of the cost of Vonage, I’m happy we made the move.
Oh, there is one thing I really wish the NetTalk Duo did that Vonage did: flash the voice mail indicator on our home phone when someone has left us a message. They do let us know via email (which I get on my cell phone) when we have a message. The only other way we know is if we pick up the house phone and dial the 2-digit voice mail access number.
– Original post, February 20th, 2012 –
We’ve been using the Vonage VOIP service for our home phone system for several years now, and for the most part are pretty happy with it. Once we all started carrying cell phones, we dropped from the ‘unlimited’ package to one with limited minutes. Nevertheless, costs have been creeping up, mostly in the form of extra fees on top of the monthly service plan. Currently, for 750 minutes, the monthly charge is $19.95, but with the addition of the fees and taxes, without going over our allotted minutes, our monthly bill is $29.66. It was time to start looking at alternatives.
NetTalk Duo vs. New MagicJack
I wanted something that didn’t require a full-time connection to a running computer, so after a fair amount of on-line research, narrowed it down to the Nettalk Duo VOIP Telephone Service and the New MagicJack Plus. Both services are very comparable, offering free phone calls in the US and Canada, voice-mail, caller ID, etc. Because it got better ratings on Amazon and elsewhere, particularly in the area of customer service, I was leaning toward NetTalk. The only problem with them was that at the time (last December) they had not yet rolled out number portability, and we really wanted to keep our own number. Fortunately, rumor had it that they would be implementing number portability soon, so I decided to wait.
Here it is February, and the wait is over. NetTalk Duo now supports number portability in the US market. I checked with their on-line service, and supposedly my number can be ported over with no problem. So I’ve taken the plunge and placed the order.
Why I’m Not Bundling Phone Service with Cable TV
I frequently get calls from my cable company offering a great deal on a bundled package, which includes TV, Internet, and phone service. They even offer free calls in the US and number portability. Here’s the problem: when we went with Vonage originally, we chose a phone number local to Flint, since we deal with far more people in that large, metropolitan area than we did with people in our tiny rural village. Vonage, like most other VOIP providers, allows you to pick a number local to anywhere. Cable companies, whose phone service is not based on VOIP, cannot do that. They can port a local number as long as you actually live in that area. So, without going through another round of “oh, our new phone number is” with the schools, friends, employers, etc., no bundle for us.
Once I get the unit in and have had a chance to use it, I’ll update this post with our impressions, the porting process, call quality, etc.