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To Purchase or Not - An Obi device (and for Google Voice?)?

Started by Corhsin, June 27, 2020, 06:33:42 PM

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Obihai was a cool option.  I set up a Obi10x years ago and it worked well.  It was in service for a year.

A few years later I configured an Obi2xx that is in use today.  I haven't heard much about it.For a home where the machine previously picked up after six, the land lines couldn't ring more than three times.  It was disappointing to find that Google Voice was forcing the voicemail after three rings.

Now it would appear Polycom owns ObiHai or at least the devices.  They are phasing out, whether officially or not, the 2xx devices, which are no longer sold under the Obihai name/color scheme or the Polycom/black variants (at least on Amazon).  The 2xx devices do not exist on the main Polycom product pages.

The topic is the question.  There are two use cases.  One is a standard home phone line, with a free Google Voice configuration.  The other is a business analog/land line configuration, with Google Voice or a VOIP provider.

The concern for the former use case is the way Obihai abandoned the 1xx line completely.  No firmware means bricked units, not just "no updates."  Treating customers in that way is a problem.

If the 2xx line is on the way out or quietly discontinued it is a bad investment and should be avoided.  It only takes one certificate update or software reconfiguration on Google's side before the devices not receiving updates no longer perform their function.  This is compounded by a multitude of horror stories about lack of support, including one reviewer stating a device failure after eight months resulted in three Obihai unanswered tickets after six additional weeks.

Before it is off the rails do not mistake the topic.  The goal is merely to gain insight on whether the company has stability and plans to continue to support the products.

The second use case, the question is "is Google Voice viable, for an analog business line?"  Neither installation, while close to me, were directly mine to work with and experience the reliability or lack thereof.  An additional question is caller ID name and the business listing in telephone books.

Please share your opinions upon the purchase and soon implementation of two Obi212 devices, under the Polycom brand (/model?).  Are they worthwhile investments?  Long term, from a view of this company and the giant that bought them (and hid them away?), will they be alive and kicking?  CAN I PAT MYSELF ON THE BACK IN THREE YEARS?!

Hope this wasn't too traumatic.  Your opinions and supporting experiences are appreciated.  Thanks in advance.


P. S.  They are in the cart and the orange-yellow button is singing its siren song.
P. P. S.  I work in IT.  Important attachment included.


First:  the whining about the 100 series is so over.  Please move on.  It has no bearing whatsoever on any current products.

Second:  no, Google has not abandoned nor neglected Google Voice.  In fact, it has spent a fortune over the last few years, completely tearing out and replacing, or upgrading, its entire telephony infrastructure.  The website and the Android and the iOS apps have been replaced, and the apps now receive very frequent updates.  What's driving this, is Google's decision to offer a fully-supported, business-class, paid telephone service, integrated into its G Suite product.  The revenue generated from the paid service will benefit the free consumer service, since they use the same back-end infrastructure.  During the period since the old 100 series days, Google has completely replaced the old XMPP VoIP system with a new, standards-based SIP VoIP system.  The website and the apps are now fully VoIP enabled, and the same system is used by OBiTALK devices.

Third:  no, Poly has not discontinued the OBiTALK ATAs.  Obihai was first bought by Polycom, then Polycom merged with Plantronics, to form Poly.  The three companies' supply chain and sales channels needed (and still need) work to standardize on a product numbering (SKU) scheme, and of course, a new "branding" or logo.

Polycom and Plantronics traditionally sold through service providers or VARs, whereas Obihai sold through authorized retailers, such as Amazon, Newegg, B&H Photo, etc.  Poly now has an integrated, business-focused product line of conference calling equipment, headsets, and IP phones.  They are also selling the non-Google Voice enabled OBi 300 series.

They are maintaining the Google Voice products, and have simply rebranded them and given them a new black color and new SKUs.  The products include the 200, 202 and 212 ATAs, and a few IP phones, from the 2000 series.

So:  can anyone guarantee that the product you buy today will support open SIP standards for the long haul, sure.  Can anyone guarantee that the product you buy today will support consumer Google Voice for the long haul?  No, since it depends on the business decisions and roadmaps of two independent companies.  The two companies have grown their partnership, and the first IP phones certified to work with Google Voice for G Suite are from Poly's VVX x50 series.  Note:  the OBiTALK consumer devices will not work with Google Voice for G Suite, and, conversely, the Poly IP phones will not work with consumer Google Voice.

What to buy today?  For Google Voice, either the 200 series ATAs or a 2182 IP phone would be the solutions.  For other ITSPs, especially for small business use, either the 300 series ATAs or one of the Poly VVX x50 series IP phones would be ideal. Remember, you would be buying essentially a small appliance, not an automobile, and the length of service life can't be compared at those two widely-different costs.

Consumer Google Voice has never been intended for business use, and it has no service level guarantee.  If you want bare-bones, reliable but simple SIP VoIP service, look to the various SIP VoIP ITSPs such as Callcentric,, etc.

Here are three links to some of the current model, consumer Google Voice compatible products (note how the SKUs are still in transition):


The answer is a good start.  You bit my head off about the 100-series, which I knew nothing about (first post, see that?).  That to me means the company is guilty about having done something bad to their customers.  Not good.

The information about Google is appreciated.  The bigger question "is (Poly) keeping the pace in regard to Obi 20x products" has a vague answer.  That is understandable for "two buyouts later."  At the same time, that was the concern.  No matter, on to other questions.

Does Obihai exist?  If they do, any idea why they have not addressed their 20x products not even being listed on the Poly site?  To the lay consumer (i. e. myself) it would appear one or both of the two companies are letting them die.

Does anyone know if utilizing the referenced services, Callcentric, or etc., can caller ID name be the business name, and appear as a business listing in telephone books?

The big question, can Obihai devices be connected to a dead jack in a home without service?  The goal would be to provide multiple analog handsets with access to the Google Voice line.  If not, can it be accomplished with some sort of additional equipment?

Your assistance is appreciated.  Thanks in advance.


Quote from: Corhsin on July 03, 2020, 10:23:23 AM
The big question, can Obihai devices be connected to a dead jack in a home without service? 
Yes but be sure the jack and connected house wiring is truly dead.  Disconnected from external wiring, not disconnected by the telco at their local office.


I was surprised to see that Google Voice was still active after all these years. I wanted a landline in the house but didn't want to pay for monthly service. Obihai and their VoIP adapter come into play. It was simple to set up a Google Voice account and connect it to the adapter. After that, the setup was a little tedious, but after a while, I was able to connect and everything has been running smoothly since then. My only criticism is that setup should be much more seamless. Directions aren't always clear, and the connection takes a while to establish. Otherwise, once everything is in place, it works flawlessly.