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By WelshPaul
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While Cisco’s of the world have been ignoring consumer needs, I am truly excited to introduce the OBi110/OBi100 series. Although they have been around for some time now (I don't think the brand name is as well known here in the UK as it is state side) they seem to be built from the ground-up keeping the consumer in mind. These devices are developed and marketed by Obihai Technology Inc., a California based company. The only difference between the two devices is that the OBi100 does not come with a FXO port to connect a traditional phone line (PSTN) and hence is little smaller than the OBi110. So, if you do not have a traditional phone line and do not plan to get one, you can go for OBi100, which is slightly cheaper than the OBi110. In this review, I will talk about the OBi110. Other than the VoIP bridging part, everything else is applicable to the OBi100.
OBi1xx Series
OBi1xx Series
OBi1xx.jpg (56.51 KiB) Viewed 11303 times
What's in the Box
Both the OBi100 and OBi110 come supplied with the bridge/telephone adapter, a UK 3 pin power adapter, an RJ45 ethernet cable and *RJ11 telephone cable. A quick guide manual is also provided in the box.

What you will Need
To make use of the OBi100/110 you’ll need a regular analogue touch tone phone… A cordless DECT phone is fine. You also need an internet connection and an available Ethernet port on your router. A US Plug (RJ11) to BT Socket (BTS) Adapter w/Ring Capacitor is also required, you can purchase one from here.
RJ11 > BT Adaptor
RJ11 > BT Adaptor
rj11_bt.jpg (29.1 KiB) Viewed 11303 times
Note: The US Plug (RJ11) to BT Socket (BTS) Adapter enables a standard UK phone to be connected to an American standard socket. This adapter includes a ring circuit which enables the phone to ring.

Once you have all the above, you are ready to configure your OBi110 device.

Configure the OBi110 Device
OBiHAI have done a good job at making the device relatively easy to use. When you get the OBi110 you need to connect it up to your home network with the supplied Ethernet cable. You also need to connect your OBi110 to a mains supply using the 3 pin UK power adapter and also attach an analogue phone using the US Plug (RJ11) to BT Socket (BTS) Adapter as mentioned above. Connecting the OBi110 to a landline is optional and if connected, the landline could then be used to route calls through if desired.

When attached and powered on the first step is to update the firmware on the unit. To do this you just need to pick up the attached phone and dial '* * * 6' and listen to the voice instructions. If an update is available the device will download it and then reboot automatically when installed.

The next step is to create an OBiTALK account over at the OBi website. Registering is free and lets you log in to manage what connected devices you have. When logged in, click on Add Devices > Next and follow the on screen instructions. This process adds your OBi110 to your account and allows you to then bridge it with other services such as your iPhone.
For those more advanced with their technical skills, you can also log in to the OBi110 direct and change a lot more options such as ring patterns, default devices and a whole array of other features. The advanced configuration possibilities are a bit beyond the scope of this review but I will revisit at a later date.

If you have an Android or iOS device you can also download the free OBiHAI app and log in with your username and password you just created. When doing so, you then see the device added to your configuration page and can then call any OBi device free of charge (data rates for mobile services may apply), or even use the OBi110 as a bridge to route the call.

The OBi110 has so many features that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to go into details of each one in a single post.
As mentioned above, there’s a lot more that can be configured on the OBi110 such as circles of trust where you can connect to other OBi devices around the globe. Speed dialling is also available on the device.

Pros and Cons
So, looking at the good side of the OBi110… it’s small and easy to connect up to a home or office network due to the single RJ45 cable that needs to plug in to a switch or router. Configuration is simple as the web service guides you through the majority of the basics. I also found that the iPhone app was easy to use, as was the iPad app. Calls made from either were clear and calls made over other services were also clear. I like that the OBi110 also has a built in IVR just like the Cisco/Linksys hardware which you can access by dialling '* * *' where you can then navigate through the menu system and find out stuff such as what IP address your local network assigned to it. All this adds up to a very well polished device. The price is also very good too.

I’m actually struggling to come up with things that I don’t like about the device. The one and only thing I can think of is you cannot downgrade firmware versions! To date though OBIHAI have released trouble free, stable firmware updates BUT should a future firmware update break an important feature or functionality that you rely on then you cannot revert back.

*Applies to the OBi110 only

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