Phils :I have not spent much time looking at voip.ms although those that use it seem to like it. Seemed not exactly Plug & Play. I am computer savvy, but not so much on network stuff.
Actually, VOIP.MS has a lot of features so if you want to get fancy, it can get complicated. It sounds like your aptitude profile is similar to mine. I personally had a lot of issues getting it going initially as my router wasn't VOIP-friendly. I changed my router and it resolved all my issues. I suspect I would have had the same issues regardless of the provider.
The good part about VOIP.MS is that it is almost risk free to try it. The way I proceeded was:
1. I added $25 to my VOIP.MS account. (That is the minimum you need to start but unused amounts are refunded if you leave.)
2. I installed my VoIP adapter on my network. I have the PAPT2 which was the most popular adapter at that time. The Ooma has to be more user-friendly.
3. Basically, you do not need to have a phone number to make a call - only to receive. All I did was test outgoing calls at the $0.01 and at the $0.005 rate and was very impressed with the call quality at both rates - so I decided to stick to the cheaper rate. Everything was working great.
4. I ported my phone number from Bell. That is when I started having problems receiving calls which ultimately was tracked down to my router. Technically, it's much easier to dial out with VoIP than it is to receive as receiving requires the system to actually find you. When you dial out, there is no such limitation.
5. What I probably should have done was rent a phone number (DID) from VoIP.MS for $0.99 for my tests. That would have revealed my inbound call issue. Had I done that, I might not have gone to VoIP at all and in the end that would have ben a mistake as it's been great ever since.
6. Since I was committed at that point, I changed my router and finally solved my issues.
In summary, you are right. For me it wasn't plug and play because of my router but it would have come close if I had had a different router. The positives to come out of it is that VoIP.MS tech support proved to be excellent and I learned a lot.
One thing you could do to test call quality is to use a softphone on your PC or your cell phone as a VoIP client. I personally use the C-SIP Simple android app on my cell phone and that is as close to plug and play as it goes regardless of the provider. VoIP.MS is on the list of international providers in C-SIP Simple so all you do is select VoIP.MS, enter your user id and password and you're good to go. You can use it with a data plan on your cell phone, I personally only use it on WiFi. The cost will be the cost per minute for as many minutes that you use. It's a very cheap way to test and to learn.