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Review: NetTALK Duo Wi-Fi VOIP system

- February 18th, 2013

DuoWifi

There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of phone lines in my household but truth being told, with Skype, Facetime and my iPhone readily available, I hardly use them. While I’m not sure I’m ready to totally cut out the cord, it would be nice to find a way to cut down some of those monthly expenses.

So I thought I would checkout the NetTALK DUO Wi-Fi VOIP (Voice-Over-Internet Protocol) System.  It’s an out of the box solution that retails for $74.95; it includes an adapter, a free Canadian phone number and extendable one-year of service, which after 12 months is $39.95CDN per year (multi-year discounts are available).  It allows you to hook up a standard telephone handset to make calls and even send faxes via the Internet. It’s flexible allowing you to connect to the Internet three ways; through your computer, router or anywhere you have a Wi-Fi connection.

duoConnect

It offers a number of features you’d expect to get from your phone company and they’re all included free with the NetTALK service. The obvious ones are Call Waiting, Caller ID, Call Forwarding and Voicemail. Visual Voicemail is also available as messages can be sent to your email address and you can listen to them while on the fly. You also get 3-way calling allowing you to add a 3rd person to a call or for a conference call for up to 20 people, you get a dedicated number – likely a 305 area code number, and a pin number access code.

 

Enhanced Services

411 directory services is also included and Enhanced 911 service, which is configured by supplying your physical address during the activation process.

Two new features that have been recently added are Call Blocking and Caller ID Blocking. Call Blocking allows you to “blacklist” a phone number, like from some of those annoying telemarketers so if they call you from a given number, they will get a busy signal.  Caller ID Blocking enables you to suppress your number when making calls for added privacy

Long Distance & Text Plans

You can make calls anywhere to the US and Canada and optionally you can add low-cost international call rate plans add-ons to 60+ countries starting at $10/month.

Calls between two Duo numbers are also free.

NetTalk app

Text Plans are available for only $40 per year. It gives you the ability to send and receive text messages using your Duo phone number through a free downloadable app via compatible iOS, and Android devices and Kindle Fire.

Set-Up

Setup can be fairly easy. The Duo has an Ethernet and phone port on one end while on the other end is a micro-USB connector, which allows you to power the device from either a USB or AC adapter (both supplied).

A card with login information including initial User Name and Password along with the unit’s serial number and MAC address located right inside the box gives you a quick start. It also includes a link to the activation portal. Now I did say the setup can be easy. Remember there are three ways to connect; you can configure your setup automatically or manually and depending on whether you are using a Mac or PC. For Windows/XP/Vista/7 users, there’s a configuration tool. I did find myself a little confused at first. I eventually configured the device by hooking up to my router. My suggestion – don’t be a hero, read the manual and setup instructions. There is an FAQ and a number of videos online to guide you. You might just discover as I did that you can get your system’s IP address by pressing *41# on your phone. Who knew?

If you really get stuck, there’s an (PC/Mac) app you can download to get the folks at NetTALK to configure it for you. Live toll-free technical support is also available seven days a week, but only during selected business hours.

You can also select to assign your phone to a number with any Canadian area code. In fact something new in the last month is the ability, for a fee, for Canadians to port their existing numbers over to NetTALK. (Of course there may be some restrictions, but the online portability checker can confirm).

NetTALK is very similar to MagicJack. The latter, although a little cheaper, does not have Wi-Fi capability nor does it support faxing. Comparing it to Skype OUT, which runs about $3/month, it’s nice not to have to pay extra for a phone number nor do you need a specialized phone to use it.

Line Quality

As for call quality, I used 2 identical Panasonic DECT 6.0 cordless handsets to make calls from both my landline and NetTalk. While the NetTalk was quite clear, it wasn’t always as crisp and prominent as the landline – perhaps much more similar to cellphone quality. With heavy bandwidth use, I also discovered some degradation in call quality. I also experienced occasional tininess. I did have the odd dropped call and had to do a reset, but for the most part the experience was quite acceptable.

NetTalk POrt

Likes

What I like about the NetTALK is that you can get a phone line for a mere fraction of what it would cost through a traditional phone company.  NetTALK provides long distance and many other features as standard while those same features are “extras” elsewhere. I like that you can assign any Canadian area code and the ability to port your existing phone number is a bonus.  Another plus is the ability to use any standard handset, connect wherever you have Wi-Fi and call forward your phone to multiple numbers in a priority sequence, ensuring that you can be found, somewhere.

Challenges

As for who would cut the cord completely, it might work for some, but not others. There may be an issue for those who have an alarm system that relies on a traditional landline.  The NetTALK adapter relies on the Internet and external power so if the Internet is down or power goes out and you have no battery backup, you have no phone. While voicemail is flexible, it is only kept for 30 days and I have not been able to find a way to illuminate my voicemail-waiting indicator.

Finally, live technical support has limited hours and wait time in the queue can be a bit long. Of course you need to keep in mind you’re not paying for a traditional phone company’s infrastructure either.

Personally, for an initial investment of about $75 (or less) and $40 a year thereafter, I think this product has huge value and is ideal for someone who can overlook its shortcomings. This might be someone who hardly uses or doesn’t rely on his or her landline for an alarm system. It seems well suited to replace secondary lines, especially a kid’s line or fax line and it’s an even cheaper solution for those who use SmartRing (two phone numbers on one line).

It’s available with a 30-day money back guarantee and can be found through many of your favorite retailers such as London Drugs, Best Buy & Future Shop as well as Staples and Amazon.ca. For more info visit NetTALK.ca.

FREE TEXT for a year

During the month of February, NetTALK is offering a free unlimited netTALK Text Plan for a year with a Duo purchase. Use code LOVE2013 when registering your device.

Rating: 3.8 / 5

Photos courtesy NetTALK. 

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Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg or Empire Avenue (e)GADGET1.

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111 comments

  1. Darlene Dreams | April 8, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Nettalk sucks – I had mine for two weeks and it quit working, it has now been three months of trying to get support for it, and it still isn’t working. I work the hours they have support, and you have to be at your computer when they call. I arranged for them to call me at the beginning of their open hours to catch me before I had to leave for work, but the one time they did call it was an hour too late.
    Now I am so pissed with this piece of junk I am just going to go get something else that actually works.
    Check support and customer service on what you buy, it is definitely worth paying a bit more to avoid the headaches

  2. Melissa | April 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    THEY TOTALLY SUCK!!!!!! I can not get anyone on the phone. They took money out of my bank account & I have NO CLUE WHY THEY STOLE MONEY FROM ME. I DO NOT have service with this company!!!! WORST COMPANY EVER!!!! NO CUSTOMER SERVICE WHATS SO EVER!!!! THEY SUCK!!

  3. Melissa | April 22, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    OH AND I WANT MY FREAKING MONEY BACK!!!!! NOW!!!

  4. Warning - Do not buy | May 15, 2014 at 9:11 am

    The promise is great, nearly free phone through internet with this device. When it works it is great, but if you have any problems [...]… My phone has not been working now for over 2 months, and I can’t get it fixed. There is no way for me to get back my money that I put in my Nettalk account to cover long distance calls.

  5. Don't do mistake !!! | May 15, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Don’t buy that device, don’t do mistake. NetTalk has no support at all. if you will have a problem, but you will have some kind of problem for sure, no one won’t help you there. They have support via online chat only from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4am only, not always replay back. No one to talk to. You will stay with your problems for long time and doesn’t matter if you have no phone line.

  6. NetTalk Customer | June 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    NetTalk has no support at all !!!
    Never get close to the NetTalk, after 3 months trying to get support, I’ve returned the device back to best buy and got my money back, they know about NetTalk support issues.

  7. NetTalk Customer | July 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I guess they do not have a support team at all .. May be no humans as well .. Because each time i tried to reach an associate on, i just got a message “There are currently 24 people ahead of you in the queue”, and then at 30th minute the chat got auto-disconnected … No result.. Waste of money… Waste of time …

  8. Abdul Qureshi | July 17, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I used this device and port my home number, few days ago, I annual subs. expired so I paid the fee but my phone was not working, I contact with help desk using online chatting, I surprised and shocked, they told me you exceed 1500 minutes last month so it is now blocked and will restore on 1st of coming month. If this the issue, Why they advertise as FREE Canada / US,, it’s not free then, If I will use it home purpose.. Any way, I am seriously thinking porting my no. some other good service. I bought another Netalk, but luckily I did not open that package.

  9. Junior | July 27, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Hey, if you dont want more problems in your life dont buy that product. the Nettalk customer service is garbage, I bought one 3 months ago and it worked for 1 months now I lost my money because the dont replay to the emails or online chat. that company is a fraud.

  10. Paul | July 28, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    It’s a neat concept and the price is right as long as the device works. When it periodically stops working (and it does) it is impossible to reach customer service (by phone or ticket) to resolve the problem. If you’re willing to put up with MANY bumps along the way and spurts of time being without a phone, then this device is OK. However if you depend on your land line, don’t bother.

  11. MYron Lasch | August 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    The people who comented on the nettalk phone system what abot the WIFI model I am sure all the people with negative reviews used the standard model any reviews on the wifi model

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