If you have a one-person office and are looking for an affordable telecommunications package, 8×8′s new Virtual Office Solo may be worth a look. It’s similar to the Virtual Office Pro product that I liked when I wrote about it a few months ago, but at $50 per month, the Pro version includes more features than most individuals would need.
As with its Pro cousin, Virtual Office Solo includes a dedicated business phone number (or you can port your existing number). Calls may be sent and received through any Windows or Mac web browser with Java 10.0 or higher; no additional software downloads or added plug-ins are required. Existing contacts can be imported from Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Facebook and Twitter.
When you’re away from your desk, or at certain times of day, calls can be forwarded to a mobile or home phone. The system includes voicemail, call waiting, music on hold, caller ID, three-way calling and the ability to record calls for storage as digital audio files.
Virtual Office Solo also includes some features that go beyond services like Google Voice, including unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, web conferencing with video for up to 15 simultaneous participants, and Internet faxing. The system also includes free mobile apps that enable users to place and receive calls through iOS and Android devices while displaying their Virtual Office Solo phone number as the Caller ID.
What Solo doesn’t have is extensions and the “phone tree” or auto-attendant features of a full PBX, so it isn’t suited for multi-person enterprises. It also doesn’t have voice-to-text message transcriptions, and is not compatible with VoIP desk phones; you’ll need the more expensive Pro version to get all of these features.
Virtual Office Solo is similar in many ways to other phone services, like Google Voice, VoxOx and Grasshopper. Its feature set is perhaps closest to Grasshopper’s, but at $7.99 per month, 8×8′s service has more options and is less expensive. The product can be ordered online from the 8×8 website and activated immediately.