MagicJack Phone Service
Is Magic Jack phone service for real? I've seen commercials for Magic Jack, a device you can plug into your computer for really cheap phone service. It sounds too good to be true... is MagicJack a scam, or does it really work?
What is Magic Jack?
MagicJack is a device that enables phone calls over the Internet. The Magic Jack voip phone service competes with Vonage, Skype, NetTalk and other VOIP (voice over internet) telephone service providers. Magic Jack has been around for more than four years as of this writing. During that time, the Magic Jack product has evolved.
The original MagicJack is a matchbox-sized device that plugs into any USB port on your Internet-enabled computer. A standard RJ-11 phone jack on the MagicJack device accepts the cord of any landline telephone. The device contains all the software and electronics necessary to let you make and receive unlimited calls for just $19.95 per year. Just plug, plug, and talk.
Magic Jack is so simple and so cheap that some people thought it was a scam when it first appeared. But MagicJack has proved to be quite real. A few years ago, after hearing a couple of my friends swear by the gadget, I did some research and found that Magic Jack really does deliver what it promises. With Magic Jack, your get own number with unlimited local and long distance (USA and Canada). You pay just $19.95 per year, and you never get a phone bill. You can even cancel your land line service with the phone company and cut them out of the loop.
Over six million units have been purchased since the original MagicJack debuted. But progress requires innovation, and so we now have other Magic Jack products.
The fact that your computer had to be turned on in order to make or receive calls irked some users. The new MagicJack PLUS can be plugged into a USB port and used just like the original. But it can also be plugged directly into a network router or an electrical wall socket, eliminating the need for a powered-on computer. As long as the device can get some sort of high-speed Internet connection - wired, wifi or a cellular 4G signal - it will work. So in that sense, Magic Jack is similar to other VOIP services like Vonage or Skype, which allow you to make phone calls over the Internet
You can try Magic Jack for 30 days free of charge; just go to their Web site and order a unit. If you keep it, the original Magic Jack costs $39.95 including service for the first year. The MagicJack PLUS costs $69.95. Annual service renewals are $29.95.
The free MagicJack APP for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch enables these Apple devices to place free calls over 3G, 4G, and WiFi networks. You do not need a voice service plan. Unlike the hardware devices, you don't get a permanent phone number with the MagicJack APP, so you cannot receive calls.
Another issue for many people was phone number portability, or the option to use your existing telephone number with Magic Jack. The company had been promising this feature for several years, and they finally made good in September 2011. If you want to dump your landline provider and still avoid the hassle of changing your phone number, you can bring your existing phone number to MagicJack for a small fee.
Using Magic Jack, you can make free calls to any phones in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands, or to any other MagicJack user anywhere on Earth. People who want to call you can reach you at your MagicJack phone number, no matter where you happen to be.
Another benefit is international calling. If you take the Magic Jack with you when you travel, you can call any phone in the US for free. And people can reach YOU by calling a US number. Also, if you have a family member who lives outside the US, and they have a reliable Internet connection, this can be a significant savings on overseas long-distance fees.
MagicJack service also includes free directory assistance, voicemail, call-waiting, caller-ID, and voicemail. You can also forward calls to another number temporarily. MagicJack's voice quality is excellent, by most accounts. Like any VoIP service, MagicJack needs a fair amount of bandwidth; at least 128 Kbps in both directions. Cable, DSL, and other land-based broadband works well with VoIP, but satellite connections are often problematic.
Magic Jack Problems?
Some customers with the original MJ device have complained about intermittent poor sound quality. Some things that are known to cause problems are glitches in your Internet service, network-intensive file sharing services such as Bittorrent, and downloading large files during a phone call. Depending on how beefy your computer is, video, games or other tasks that require lots of memory or processor power can also be problematic, if they are taking place during a call. And of course, if the computer is infested with malware, all bets are off.
Some users have complained they had to restart their computer each morning to get their MagicJack to work. Other have found that using a powered USB hub cured the troubles they were having. The good news is that MagicJack Plus, which does not need to plugged into the computer, should be immune from all of these problems. For the vast majority of users with a solid high-speed internet connection, voice quality or dropped calls shouldn't be an issue.
Magic Jack Customer Service
Since I posted this article, there have been quite a few people contacting me, thinking that this website is Magic Jack Customer Service. It's not... I'm a tech journalist, and this is a review. I don't have a red phone with a direct line to MJ Headquarters. But you CAN visit the Magic Jack Customer Service page online, call MJ Support (281-404-1551), or try their Main Office (561-594-2140). That's all the info I have on Magic Jack Customer Support. Really!
So there are both pros and cons to the device, but I can say that it's definitely not a scam, and works well for most people as a landline replacement. MagicJack is a very easy, highly portable, and affordable VoIP solution. It's been around a long time in "Internet years," and it will probably continue evolving. If you want to cut your phone bill, MagicJack can be a good way to do it.
Got something to say about MagicJack? Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 21 Oct 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- MagicJack Phone Service (Posted: 21 Oct 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved