netTALK DUO WiFi VOIP Phone Review @ ModSynergy.com
I know I'm late to the party, however, better late than never right?
I know there are many of you out there today, this review being in November 2014, that still pay a monthly bill for dedicated landline telephone service. Admittedly I've been in the same boat as you all for some time now, even though I have a cell phone.
I've already used Skype, used Google Voice, used various software applications such as WhatsApp, and BBM that has allowed me to make voice calls just by using Internet service with respective apps, so in that regard it's not like I've never used the technology before. I just don't know why I've never applied that on my home landline telephone service.
ModSynergy has also reviewed plenty of Over-The-Air (OTA) HD antennas, and have shared with you on ways to cut the cord and save money by putting it back into your pockets. It's only fitting that we finally do the same to the home landline telephone service.
I mean it's just ridiculous when I look at my current landline service bill and see that I pay the telecom company a little over $36 a month for a dial tone and no extra features, no call waiting, no caller ID, no nothing. A whole year ends up costing approximately $432!
Today I will be looking at one home phone line replacement VOIP solution out on the market today in the netTALK DUO WiFi. netTALK advertises free unlimited local and long distance calling within Canada and the USA (Basic Call Plan) and free features such as caller ID, caller ID blocking, call forwarding, call waiting, and much more! The upfront cost of the DUO WiFi hardware (directly from the netTALK website) is $74.95 and includes 1-year of home phone service. Once the included year of home phone service is over, each year thereafter is purchased for only $39.95 plus taxes!
The savings to be had is incredible! Remember that I pay right now to the telecom company a little over $36 per month for a basic landline service with no extra features, this amounts to about $432 per year. Doing the math for the netTALK DUO WiFi, the first year would cost about $84.69, a savings of $347.31! Subsequent years thereafter for the Basic Call Plan would cost only $45.14 with taxes, or for a savings of $386.86! That's almost $400 I'm putting back into my own pockets, I can't believe all of the money I've been losing for so many years. I could have saved $1894.75 in five years!
The savings are undeniable, but they won't mean much if the netTALK DUO WiFi has issues and can't perform reliably. Without further ado, lets jump into this review shall we?
netTALK was founded in 2008 by Anastasios “Takis” Kyriakides with the idea of leveraging the ongoing technology revolution to give consumers freedom of choice and to liberate them from outdated, expensive, legacy systems. netTALK provides continuous innovation and easy-to-use products at an affordable price, with superior customer service.
Mr. Kyriakides and Team netTALK are first implementing this dynamic vision in the everyday realm of telephone calls. netTALK’s revolutionary flagship product, the netTALK DUO, enables anyone to Fire Your Phone Company® and never pay a monthly phone bill again. The netTALK DUO has been crowned an “Editor’s Choice” by PCMag.com and Laptop Magazine, and has received rave reviews in the major media, including the New York Times, GigaOM, PCWorld and elsewhere. Available at many major retailers and e-tailers, and a long-time bestseller on Walmart.com, the netTALK DUO and the netTALK Smartphone app are freeing consumers and small business owners from monthly phone bills and cellular talk minutes, alike.
However, this is just the beginning. With the recent acquisition of a large cloud and data center featuring a 150-foot, 4G-enabled cellular tower, and other developments in the works, netTALK plans to bring its model of liberating consumers and small businesses from entrenched, expensive service providers into other areas.
netTALK DUO WiFi Product Overview
The netTALK DUO WiFi ® is a portable digital phone device that allows users to make crystal clear calls over high-speed Internet using any standard home phone with no contracts and no monthly bills. Enjoy free calling features such as call waiting, conference calling, Enhanced 911, 411 directory assistance, visual voicemail, and more.
With your purchase you get a (12) month prepaid full featured phone line without sacrificing reliability or call quality of a traditional phone company. FREE International calling while traveling; Make and receive calls from Canada & U.S. from any country in the world with no high minute or roaming charges.
One year of service is included with the DUO WiFi purchase; each additional year is only $39.95 plus tax. Flat-rate, low cost international call plans are available and the netTALK DUO WiFi is supported by live chat & customer call back support.
Everything you want for home phone service: Fire Your Phone Company® and never pay a monthly phone bill again. netTALK is everything you want and expect from a traditional home phone service, except the HIGH COST!
netTALK is an easy-to-set up and use, lowest cost voice over IP (VoIP) home phone service. netTALK DUO Wi-Fi, netTALK DUO and netTALK DUO II are the devices to make it easy to save and enjoy clear quality calls with your friends/family.
Millions of people are using internet access to replace home phone service. netTALK is the best option for you. All you need is high-speed internet, a home phone and a netTALK DUO. Simple and easy! See why you should become a netTALK DUO owner!
No Contracts: Fire your phone company forever because with your purchase of any netTALK DUO product, service is included and “pay as you go” for additional years with no contracts or long term commitments.
No computer needed: netTALK DUO does not require a computer. You can simply connect your DUO to a home phone and your high speed internet, activate your device and account. Then you are ready to go!
Easy to use: netTALK DUO products are easy to set up to make FREE Local and Long Distance calls over the internet with or without a computer. Setup in seconds with easy to follow instructions and everything you need is included in your box.
No Monthly Bills: Stop paying and receiving monthly bills! Less hassle and stress, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy a full feature phone line that comes with any of your netTALK DUO device.
netTALK DUO WiFi Product Feature List
netTALK DUO WiFi Product Overview
The netTALK Duo WiFi comes in a cheerfully designed and compact eco friendly packaging, where it utilizes paper instead of plastic, making recycling easier and effective than if plastic were used. We live in a plastic world, with enormous amounts of plastic filling up our landfills, and since there are many variations of plastic, not all plastic can be recycled at local recycling facilities, therefore they just sit and take up space in landfills. But with paper having a single variation, it's easier and able to recycle at any center. The box uses a combination of bright colors that include blue, green, and embossed shiny silver accents for the product name, that allows it to stand out on store shelves.
Front of the box displays the actual real product image of the netTALK Duo WiFi, that it contains the 1st year of home phone service for free, and other brief information going over the key features of the Duo and WiFi capability.
Turning the box over reveals a full feature list of what the netTALK Duo WiFi includes. It also mentions the purpose of the device and that all you need is a high-speed internet connection and telephone to make and receive phone calls. There are 3 ways to connect the netTALK Duo WiFi, the first is via Wi-Fi, the second is wired through your router, and the third is connected to your computer (PC compatible only). No mention of compatibility with Apple Macs.
The box also mentions that you can use the netTALK Duo WiFi as your main phone line or secondary (or third, etc) phone line.
There's something interesting on the box though. The fine print. See the box mentions unlimited and free calls to anywhere in Canada and USA, but the small fine print in the back of the box says something different. It can be considered a bit misleading. The box states: Unlimited calling and other services are for residential plans and based on normal residential, personal, noncommercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes and other factors. See our reasonable use policy and terms of service.
So what is reasonable use? Basically this is meant for residential use and not for businesses. There's a list of factors that they check for as well. And there's an actual limit imposed upon users under netTALK's Terms of Service. Here is a direct quote...
"If you subscribe to a calling plan which included unlimited calling of any type, unless otherwise specified by your specific plan in marketing materials associated therewith, any usage in excess of 1,500 aggregate minutes per month, or other use which inconsistent with normal use as described in paragraph 2 below, taking into account all types of calling in your plan which are provided on an unlimited basis, shall be presumed to be not consistent with these restrictions and shall be subject to the conditions described within this section c."
Well that was a surprise. There's no indication on the box anywhere that alludes to this only offering 1,500 minutes (or 25 hours). All the box mentions is free local and long distance calling in the front, and the back of the box says 'Pre-paid unlimited local & long distance calling included (US & Canada). The box comes across as a bit deceptive, it's clearly a bit of false marketing involved.
If you go over 1,500 minutes, you might be in a surprise when it stops working and you have no idea why. The person who buys the netTALK should decide if they'll use more than 1,500 minutes, or 25 hours, per month. Honestly if you have a big family, or at least someone in the family who likes to talk on the phone for a long time, this might not be for you. If you're a light user than you can likely be fine with 1,500 minutes per month. I'm telling you up front right now that it bugs me that this isn't shown unless you do some detective work and read the fine print and find the Terms of Service.
Another surprising bit I found on the back of the box was that it says 12 month renewal of $29.95 required after free period expires. I'm assuming this box has outdated information as the website mentions it's $39.95 per year for the Basic Call Plan. netTALK must have increased the price at some point.
Well now that we know the specifics, lets open the box up. Opening up the netTALK Duo WiFi, you'll find the netTALK Duo WiFi VOIP adapter, 1 year service included, a micro USB cable, an Ethernet cable, and universal voltage A/C adapter.
The netTALK Duo WiFi measures 7 x 6 x 2 (inches) and is constructed entirely out of hard plastic. I like that it's compact and easy to bring with you on the go, should you ever need to bring it with you to different locations. The Duo WiFi comes in a two tone black and silver paint scheme. The front fascia holds the netTALK logo and is semi glossy, while the rest of the body is matte finish.
The very top holds nothing but product name logo and single LED near the edge of the VOIP adapter. This LED can illuminate different colors such as red, green, depending on the activity of the device.
The bottom of the device contains two rubber strips on opposite ends to prevent slipping off tables and surfaces. Though they don't work too well as the device is very lightweight so it'll move easily by itself. A sticker contains device information pointing out the locations of the micro USB port, Phone jack, and Internet LAN port. The Ethernet port is controlled by a Qualcomm Atheros chipset, a well known brand. The MAC address and serial number of the device is displayed on this sticker as well.
There are no vents anywhere on the device, however, the good news is that it doesn't run hot at all, at best the device is lukewarm to the touch after hours of operation.
On the other end of the DUO WiFi is the phone jack and Internet LAN port. The LAN port contains its own pair of receive and transmit LED's.
The small AC Adapter that is bundled with the DUO WiFi is at least a good one. I know some manufactures like to supply cheap AC adapters with their products, but this isn't the case here. The adapter has an efficiency level of V.
There's 3 ways to connect and get up and running with the DUO WiFi.
You can connect via internal Wi-Fi, connect via router, or connect via computer.
If you consider how small the DUO WiFi is, you can imagine that the internal antenna will likely not be as strong as one with an external antenna on the outside of the device. So in that regard, you have to place the DUO WiFi closer to your router in order to obtain a solid and good wireless signal. Factor in that with wireless connectivity you are sacrificing latencies which affect overall speed, if you care about giving the best speed and latencies to your VOIP adapter, then you'd be better off connecting the DUO WiFi to your network router.
Better yet as I have ended up doing, you can connect the netTALK DUO WiFi with a Powerline networking adapter and place it wherever you like in your home instead of it having to sit next to your network router. Frankly your phone will have to sit next to the DUO WiFi so you may as well make it convenient. I found it, in the case of the DUO WiFi, to work very well in this configuration. I had troubles with the WiFi capabilities of the DUO WiFi.
An easy setup guide card is included and contains 6 steps. Here are the list of steps to connect get the DUO WiFi up and running.
1. Locate your username and password inside of the box.
2. To activate your DUO WiFi, go to www.netTALK.com/activate and follow the setup instructions.
This is where you will be inputting your contact information for set up purposes and for E911 service. You will then be allowed to choose a phone number based on the location you choose. This whole process takes 5-10 minutes depending on how fast you type, it's very straightforward and simple.
3. Plug your phone into the DUO WiFi.
4. Connect your DUO WiFi to either your computer, router, or to your Wi-Fi connection. (For more information concerning your Wi-Fi connection, visit www.netTALK.com/WiFiGuide)
5. If connecting via router or Wi-Fi, plug the power cord into the DUO WiFi and to your outlet.
6. Once your phone rings, the setup is complete!
Results - How does it work?
I had a mixed bag of results, however, once I found the working configuration that worked best, the call capabilities of the netTALK DUO WiFi worked well. In the end, I settled with the wired connection to my router in conjunction with a Powerline networking adapter so I could place the netTALK in the area of my choice.
Consider that my Internet connection isn't the fastest, but reasonable, I have a cable Internet connection that is rated up to 6Mbps download and a measly 256Kbps upload.
I for the life of me could not get WiFi working even though I followed their instructions and also downloaded and used the netTALK DUO WiFi Management Tool.
The application is simple enough, once the VOIP adapter is plugged into your computer, its read as the TK6000 RNDIS Network Device. You run the program, it lists all the available networks that the netTALK DUO WiFi is managing to pick up wirelessly. Then you select your own Network Name SSID, enter password, and press save to lock the configuration. Validation will be given to you in the next page with a green check mark stating that Your netTALK DUO WiFi has successfully activated. Unplug the DUO WiFi from your computer and plug in the netTALK DUO WiFi to a standard home phone, and connect the micro USB for power. Once the netTALK DUO WiFi turns on, it'll hopefully register your device on their network and you should eventually see the LED light on the device turn green and once you hear your phone ring it means the whole process is complete and you are ready to make phone calls.
As I said, for the life of me I could not get WiFi working initially. I don't know what was going on as I completed all of the steps correctly and selected my wireless network SSID and correct password. It just wouldn't work, I re-tried the steps multiple times. Even the netTALK app I downloaded on my Smartphone could not find the netTALK on my wireless network.
Anyway I eventually gave up and connected it the good old fashion way, through wired connection with the Ethernet cable. Once I connected everything, turned it on, and waited for about 5 to 10 minutes, I finally saw the green LED and finally the phone rang once to confirm that I could make phone calls. Only problem was that I didn't want to have the netTALK DUO WiFi device sitting right beside my router, let alone be forced to have the telephone in that area. So I ended up connecting the netTALK DUO WiFi to a Powerline networking adapter so that I could have it in the location of my choice, this worked great!
The problem with WiFi on the netTALK is that you would have to connect the netTALK DUO WiFi to the location in your home that you had a good signal. If you connected it to a location that had poor signal, the thing would not work very well. And wireless, although convenient, meant your overall speed suffered because wireless doesn't offer the lowest latencies that a wired connection provides.
So in the end how did it work? In terms of call quality it worked quite well actually considering I don't have the fastest Internet connection out there. The netTALK has a fake dial tone so it sounds like any other landline. Calls in general were indistinguishable, I could not tell the difference on my end for the most part, calls were loud, clear, not muffled in any way, it sounded the same as a landline. I would rate it as good.
However, call quality did at certain times, though not too often, suffer and actually skip at times. So when I was talking to someone I could hear their voice stutter and skip. I noticed this would happen when my Internet was either slow on a certain day, someone was downloading at that time of the phone call, or that it was a random occurrence. I also experienced echo at certain times, again not too often, I could hear my own voice during the call.
I asked the person on the other end of my outgoing phone call if I sounded different or if call quality was bad or different in any way, the person on the other end of the phone call mentioned that they could not hear any difference and that everything sounded fine. So in this regard the netTALK DUO WiFi did a good job.
So I thought everything was great and started to give the 416 area code phone number I selected during the netTALK activation process to my friends and family members. A few days later my family member called me on my cell phone and told me that they could not call me on the netTALK phone number I had shared with them. I was confused to why it didn't work. So I told them to hang up and call again. A few minutes go by and they call back on my cell and say that the phone number I had selected on the netTALK activation page actually went to another person. They said a random person guy picked up and it was not me. They asked this person is your number 416 xxx-xxxx (the number I had chosen on the netTALK activation page)? And he said yes that's his phone number.
So it turned out that I could make outgoing phone calls with this same 416 area code phone number that apparently belonged to someone else, even though I selected this phone number on the netTALK activation process and assigned it. Outgoing was fine.
The problem was that I could not receive any incoming phone calls. The incoming phone calls where going to the other guy that the phone number apparently belonged to. How could netTALK allow me to choose a phone number that had already been assigned and in active operation? That didn't make sense how two different people could have the same phone number, yet that was precisely the case in my case. Absolutely made no sense, that particular 416 phone number should not have been on the database.
I ended up having to get another phone number, an entirely different area code, as 416 area code phone numbers were all taken, through the netTALK account page I had created during activation. I made sure to test outgoing calls and incoming calls at this point and verified that I could make and accept phone calls now without any issue.
I have been using the netTALK DUO WiFi for about 2 months now and it has been good for the most part. Yes I do still have those times where things sometimes don't work as expected, some stutter and some echo, but they haven't been the norm. Typically things have been well enough that call quality is good without major issue.
I did experience yet another small issue but irregularly, the issue was that the LED on the device would turn red, instead of green. The red light basically stopped the netTALK DUO from working. However, it would change back to green LED status on its own after about 5 minutes and service could work again. Not entirely sure what's going on but this didn't happen too often, maybe twice or three times within a span of almost 2 months.
Also sometimes when making outgoing calls, I would dial the phone number, and there would be a long pause where nothing would happen. Or if I called out there would be a false busy signal or number is not in service message. However, hanging up and calling again would allow it to go through.
Eventually at some point, I wanted to retry the netTALK DUO WiFi with its wireless capabilities. Honestly I didn't do anything and the device started working wirelessly on its own. I don't know what the deal is with the problems I've had with this working on wireless. However it did work at some point. Though I did have more times where I had call quality issues when the netTALK was working wirelessly. The echo, stuttering, skipping presented itself more often. I think the latencies associated with using wireless in this case were the issue. So I moved back to the wired connection with the Powerline networking adapter setup that I had before. If it isn't broke don't fix it right?
All in all, a mixed bag of experiences like I said, however, once I found the configuration that worked, it was generally good.
netTALK Software Apps
They offer apps on Google Play and Apple App Store, however, their apps are also misleading and just generally useless, stay away from using their apps.
Where To Buy
You can purchase either directly from the netTALK website, but I'd go for the cheaper netTALK DUO without the WiFi for $59.95. It's also sold on Amazon.com for cheaper, $42.67, and is shipped and sold directly from Amazon. There's also an even cheaper price of $21.99, however, that one is considered Certified Refurbished and is shipped from a third party seller. I'll put up links for both for you to decide whether or not you might want to try.
Why do I like Amazon? They are fast, reliable, honest, and return policy is great. I actually got money refunded back to my account after Amazon overcharged me on duty costs, talk about being an honest company, most others would keep the money and not say anything!
If you are thinking of purchasing, please use our Amazon link, it will help us out greatly. Thanks
Some Amazon Deals That May Interest You!
My experiences with the netTALK DUO WiFi has been a whole lot of things, but more than anything it's been a mixed bag. When it works, it's been good, however, there are possible issues and annoyances you might experience as I described in the review. So it's not as reliable as a landline, but you end up adjusting to its possible hiccups.
But on the flipside, the price is very attractive in terms of the savings you'll have if you decide to cancel your landline. For me, that would be putting back almost $400 in my pocket each year. That's an incredible savings, however, ultimately it's your decision whether or not it's worth it for you. Remember that there was a bit of misleading false advertising going on with the netTALK DUO Wi-Fi's service, the box said one thing, yet upon investigating it was found to offer 1,500 minutes per month.
It's very likely that there's other solutions on the market which are better.