Review: Obihai OBi202 ATA

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) users in the VoIP world became familiar with Obihai a few years ago with the introduction of the OBi100 and OBi110 devices. Although Obihai itself is a new company the expertise and people behind the company have been at work in the VoIP hardware sector from the Komodo device in the early 1990s to Sipura technologies, Linksys PAPs and finally to the Obihai we know today.
The first generation of Obihai devices received numerous industry accolades and consistently received positive end-user reviews. The initial devices were simple looking, yet very versatile. Obihai has much improved upon this design and idea with the introduction of the OBi202. This new device comes in the familiar ATA form factor and anyone who has seen or even heard of an ATA before will have no trouble identifying the device and figuring out the basic setup. The OBi202 can be purchased from Amazon around $74.99, a bit pricey but we’ll see if it’s worth it.

We had two weeks with this new device at Callcentric and will give our opinion and overall impression in a categorical format below based on: Appearance, Features, Setup, Performance and our overall conclusion on whether or not Callcentric clients should or shouldn’t use this device.

APPEARANCE

The packaging for the OBi202 is very simple. A standard brown box with the necessary parts: power cable, ethernet cable, startup manual and the ATA itself. We weren’t expecting anything flashy; however the Obihai logo would have helped improve the initial impressions and would give purchasers or even those looking at the shiny new device an idea of what is in the box.

UPDATE 07/18/2012:

Your Obihai packaging should actually show the proper Obihai logo and should look like the one below. This is taken from the Obihai website:

The previous OBi devices, as a matter of opinion, looked like children’s toys. Although the looks weren’t horrible, the devices didn’t give you the feeling that you were using a powerful communications tool. Obihai has changed this with the OBi202 and have introduced a matte black on gray design with smooth surfaces. The device can be placed behind your computer or desk, or even displayed prominently and still look sleek and functional. We like the new design and appreciate the change in aesthetics.

For those wondering, this device does look like an ice cream sandwich in some photos but is much more attractive in person.

FEATURES

The most prominent feature of this device, and other OBi devices, is that it is not limited to any single provider. You can use Callcentric solely or in combination with other providers. Of course we would rather you use Callcentric solely ;-).

The OBi202 comes standard with the features one would expect from an ATA such as phone ports, an ethernet port and general calling features. It does however go a couple steps further by including a built in router, for those without complicated networks or standalone routers. This would allow you to hook your computer up to the internet through the device.

Another standout, and surprisingly rare, feature of the OBi202 is that the device includes a USB port with which you can use a wireless adapter, which is a separate $25.00 purchase. This can be really convenient for some people and we found that there was no noticeable difference between using the wireless adapter and the wired adapter.

We expected a standard feature set and were more than satisfied with what we received.

SETUP

This is where things may be simple or complicated. Plugging in the device is pretty standard and should not be a problem at all for most. Once the device is powered you have the option of using the Obitalk portal or manual configuration to configure your device. Our experience with the Obitalk portal was pleasant and setup was pretty smooth. Our OBi202 was up and running within 15 minutes using the built in Callcentric profile.

We should warn users that if they use the Obitalk portal they will need to use this portal to continue configuring the device. As such if there are any problems they will need to use the Obitalk interface to fix them. Some have reported issues with provisioning, which you can read here or on broadbandreports.com. Our previous experiences with the OBi110 revealed a few problems relating to overridden settings on firmware updates. Again if you use the Obitalk portal to configure your OBi202 then please use Obitalk.com to perform any further configuration changes.

We used Obitalk to test initial setup and then also configured our device manually. The OBi device interface is not for the newbie. Changing certain settings requires two steps to first disable the default setting and then change the value; however if you know why you are making a change there should be no problem.

When using manual configuration according to our setup guide we recommend the following settings be configured:

Service Providers → ITSP Profile → General

DigitMap (*xx.|**275*x.|[3469]11|1xxxxxxxxxx|<1>[2-9]xxxxxxxxx|011xx.|xx.|(Mipd)|[^*#]@@.)
We recommend the above to be able to use SIP Broker peering/**275, 911, 411 and *xx codes. You may modify this dial plan to your heart’s content. However please make sure you know what you are doing as our support department does not love decoding extremely complex dial plans ;-).

System Management → Auto Provisioning

ITSP Provisioning → Method Disabled
OBiTALK Provisioning → Method Disabled

Service Providers → ITSP Profile → SIP

X_ProxyServerRedundancy Checked
X_SecondaryRegistration Checked

Voice Services → SP Service

X_KeepAliveEnable Checked
X_KeepAliveExpires 120

We have had users with various issues and these settings have proven to help resolve and eliminate further problems.

To test the configuration process you can open a free account right now and within 15 minutes see how simple it is to use the OBi202 with Callcentric.

PERFORMANCE

This OBi202 shines in terms of performance. We would like to specifically point out how convenient it is to change settings on this device, despite the two step approach. Some of the devices we have come across have required a reboot after every single setting change, a complete nightmare. With this device, and Obihai’s devices in general, you can make all of your changes and then reboot after. In short the responsiveness of the web configuration interface for the device itself is top notch.

The performance when using the wireless adapter and the wired adapter was equal. Sound quality was excellent and registrations were maintained with no problems. If you do encounter issues and notice a striking difference between the wireless adapter and the wired connection then you may want to check the strength of the wireless signal. Our test calls to 17771234567 always worked well and we navigated the menu with crisp sound and immediate recognition by the voice recognition system.

We attempted using the OBi202 for faxing but were not able to reliably receive faxes when using the T38 mechanism. When using passthru with G711 we experienced a 75-80% completion rate. In short your mileage may vary and one should always consider the instability of faxing over VoIP.

UPDATE 07/18/2012:

We discovered that having the X_DnsSrvAutoPrefix option enabled can cause problems with T38. For clients wishing to use T38 please disable this option to have better success with your faxes.

With this option enabled the OBi202 will send the T38 re-INVITE to a different server from which the original INVITE connected. To put it simply the device attempts to reconnect the fax call on the wrong server. Please note that the X_DnsSrvAutoPrefix setting can also fix certain issues and as such users may have to decide whether passthru faxing works well enough for them. If the X_DnsSrvAutoPrefix is necessary then please be aware it may interfere with faxing.

We have contacted Obihai and they are looking into the issue to see why this happens. Once we get an update we will update this review.

CONCLUSION

So far we have had this device up and running for two weeks tweaking and changing settings and have not had any issues. As with our OBi100 we do not expect any problems but will definitely update this review if it becomes necessary.

To close, the OBi202 is a must have for those looking for a stable two port phone adapter, with extra features. We believe most of our initial issues with previous Obihai devices and the Obitalk portal have so far been resolved. Additionally Obihai has been very responsive in fixing issues and issuing firmware updates. As it stands we recommend this device to end users as a stable, easily configurable and usable ATA option.

Visual Rating
Appearancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
An improved apperance. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder
Featureswww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Expanded feature set. Extra functionality for home and business users
Setupwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Configuration with Callcentric can be simple. However the local Obihai device interface needs an upgrade or rethinking.
Performancewww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
Excellent stability and performance with Callcentric. We deduct 0.5 for fax, although we are aware of the issues.
Overallwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com
A solid device that delivers on features and surprises with versatile add-ons. The OBi202 is an excellent choice for Callcentric users.