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CES: Smartphone Features For a Home Phone Line

Senior consumer reporter and “Deal of Day” columnist Kelli B. Grant travels to Las Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the most hyped gadgets at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Join her as she roams the exhibit floor for three days, with dispatches here and on Twitter @kellibgrant.

Having a home phone line may have just gotten hipper.

VoIP provider Ooma’s new $60 handset, available in March, has a 2″ color LCD screen, and links with Facebook to provide the caller’s picture and name when available. Users can also designate different ringtones for different callers — that way, there’s no need to go racing for the phone when the “Jaws” theme announces it’s an unknown, probably telemarketer’s number. Or worse, your mother.

Of course, to make use of the handset, you’ll need to be signed up for Ooma. That entails a $200 base unit that connects with an existing home Internet connection. Ooma phone service offers free domestic calling, with users paying just taxes and fees for monthly access.

Experts typically warn of crackly connections for VoIP service, but an Ooma spokesman says the device boasts “crystal clear, HD sound.” (In any case, there’s a 30-day return period.)


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About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to or tweet @SMPayDirt.