By Alok Saboo on May 5th, 2012
Following up on the success of OBi100 and OBi110, Obihai has introduced the next version of its analog telephone adapter (ATA) – OBi202. If you are one of the thousands of happy OBi users, you will definitely love the next generation device. The OBi202 builds on the features that users have come to expect from Obihai and adds additional functionalities that one expects from a modern VoIP device. The big question, however, is should you get one? Let us dig deeper and find out…
OBi202 Hardware and Design
The package contains everything that you need to get started – the OBi202, an ethernet cord, power adapter, and a quick start guide.
The OBi202 has received a fresh coat of paint; it sports a grey body with a navy blue exterior.
On the front, you have 5 LED status indicators – Power, Internet activity, Ethernet (LAN) activity, and two phone status indicators. The LED indicators provide a visual indication of the OBi functions. The Power and the Phone LEDs need to be solid green before you can make calls.
On the back, you have two phone ports to connect your analog phones, a USB port, LAN port, WAN port for Internet connection, and a power socket.
Getting started with OBi202
Configuring OBi202 is literally a cakewalk. Just provide an Internet connection to the blue INTERNET port, connect a phone to green PHONE 1 port, and connect the power adapter (the other connections are optional). Make sure that the Power LED is solid green, before moving forward.
Create an account on the Obitalk portal, if you do not have one already. Login to your account and follow the prompts to add the OBi202 to your account.
Once the OBi202 is added to your account, you can add up to four SIP providers or Google Voice accounts. You can also configure how the phones connected to your OBi access your SIP accounts. To configure your Google Voice account, just enter your username/password.
Settings for several other VoIP providers (Anveo, Broadvoice, Callcentric, CallWithUs, Engin, InPhonex, Sipgate, Vitelity, VoicePulse, voip.ms) are available on the Obitalk portal. To add a provider besides one of the above, select Generic SIP Provider and enter the SIP details. The screenshot describes how to add Localphone SIP settings to your OBi202.
The following video tutorial provides a brief overview of the OBi202 setup process and how to configure Google Voice or any other SIP provider on OBi202.
OBi202 Key Features
OBi202 provides some killer features that fully utilize the beefed up hardware. I list the major ones here.
Support for Google Voice
Probably the most talked about feature is the native support for Google Voice. The OBi202 natively supports Google Voice. Just enter your Google credentials on the Obitalk portal and you can start using Google Voice service without using your local mobile plan minutes or without any computer. Till Google officially starts supporting SIP on Google Voice, this is a no-brainer. From the telephones connected to the OBi202, you can make free calls in the USA and Canada at least through the end of the year. You can configure up to four Google Voice accounts on the OBi202.
Connect Two Analog Phones
You can now connect two analog phones to the OBi202 that operate independently, i.e., you can simultaneously make or receive two calls. This is perfect for home offices, if you want to have separate personal and professional lines. In addition, the two phones work together very well, providing some very nice collaborative features. For example, you can dial a “#” key to call from one phone port to the other. You can also use this feature join both the phones to a call (three-way conference) or transfer calls.
Configure up to 4 SIP providers
Unlike its predecessors (OBi100 and OBi110) that allowed only two SIP providers, you can configure up to four SIP providers on your OBi202. Read my previous review of the OBi100 or the OBi110, if you are not familiar with them.
The four VoIP accounts along with two analog phones, really make the OBi202 a very powerful solution. You can specify how the two phones access the 4 SIP providers configured on the OBi. You can define the primary lines for each phone or how incoming calls are routed using a very easy to understand matrix structure. In the picture below, I have configured PHONE 1 to use SP1 and PHONE 2 to use SP2 as a primary line to make calls (remember, you can still access the other line, e.g., to make outgoing calls using SP2 from PHONE 1, just dial **2 and the destination number) and both phones will ring on incoming calls from either of the SIP accounts.
Support for T.38 fax-over-IP protocol
The OBi202 now also supports the T.38 real time fax-over-IP standard protocol. You can now connect your fax machine to one of the PHONE ports and OBi can reliably send fax over IP (provided, of course, your SIP provider supports fax-over-IP).
Built in Router with QoS
The OBi202 also has a built-in one-port Fast Ethernet router with firewall and integrated quality of service (QoS) that ensures voice conversations are prioritized on the network, before all other traffic. Now you can use the OBi alongside your computer without investing in a router (if you do not have one already). While a one-port router is a welcome addition, it will not replace a full-fledged router.
USB Port for Future Extensions
While the USB port is currently not functional (at least in an easy to use manner), it promises a lot of opportunities in the future. A wireless adapter is already in works and should be available very shortly that will allow you to use the OBi202 from anywhere within range of an 802.11b/g/n network. At some point in near future, you may also be able to connect a storage device to enable local and remote access of digital files via the Internet by authorized users.
Whether to buy an OBi202 or not?
I have been using the OBi202 for quite some time and to say that I am blown away by the device would not be an understatement. All the features work as advertised. The OBi devices (all of them) make the Google Voice account so much more useful and easy to use. Obihai continues to impress with its product line by including advanced features, yet managing to keep things simple. The OBi202 lacks a few features, for example, the USB is not functional yet, it lacks wireless router capabilities, and no HD VoIP. However, given the price point, I have no doubts that it will exceed all your expectations. OBi202 achieves a fine balance between cost, features, speed, and stability.
Now the big question – to buy or not to buy? For all the features that OBi202 offers, you also need to keep in mind that it does cost $74.99 – about $30 more than the OBi110/OBi100. Here are some pointers that should help you make a choice.
- If you do not use multiple SIP providers or don’t see yourself using multiple phones, then save yourself some money and buy the OBi100 instead.
- If you are a SOHO user or a small business and you value the convenience of having two separate analog phones, then you should consider the OBi202.
- If you want to use fax-over-IP, then OBi202 is the way to go.
- If you already have a landline connection and want to bridge it with your VoIP accounts, the OBi110 is the only way to go (since the other OBi devices do not have and FXO port).
- Although not fully functional, if you like the idea of having your files available on your personal cloud, go for OBi202.
- Finally, if you want to be able to use the OBi within a wireless network, then go for OBi202.
Given the extensive features that OBi202 offers, it is impossible to detail all of them. I will have follow-up post(s) to detail the key features of the device. If you are considering buying an ATA, the OBi devices should be in your consideration set. I strongly feel that they are superior than any other ATA available in the market.
Disclaimer: Apparently, FTC requires me to disclose that I have received my OBi202 for review purposes from Obihai. However, the recommendations in this (or any other post that may follow) are not influenced by any goodies and are purely based on my objective evaluations of the device.