Will This Gadget Replace Your Landline?
In its advertising, Magic Jack appears to be a device that you can plug into your computer and fire the phone company. It sounds too good to be true. So is MagicJack a scam, or does it actually work? Can it really replace your landline, and eliminate your monthly phone bill?” Read on for the surprising answer, and some news about Magic Jack for those who may have considered it in the past...
What is MagicJack?
The short answer is YES – MagicJack is legit. In a nutshell, it's a device that enables very inexpensive VOIP calling (phone calls over the Internet). The MagicJack phone service competes with Vonage, Ooma, Skype, and other VOIP telephone service providers.
The MagicJack device has evolved considerably since its 2007 debut. It is currently the best-selling consumer VoIP product on Amazon, with over 5,700 customer reviews, an average 4.5-star rating, and hundreds of answered product questions. Let's take a look at the current MagicJack products and services.
The hardware side of MagicJack is the magicJack HOME device. It's a minimalist device with a USB plug on one end and two jacks on the other, one for a phone line and the other for an Ethernet cable. Plug a standard phone into the phone jack, and connect to your computer via USB or directly to your router via Ethernet. Register your device once and that’s it; you’re up and VoIP-ing!
The magicJack Plus, magicJack Express, and magicJack GO, all discontinued, were essentially the same design. But the latest magicJack HOME device has a processor chip that’s 4 times faster than the previous model, with improved voice quality, even under congested network conditions.
Unlimited calls to landline and mobile numbers in the USA and Canada are standard, and international rates are competitive. Features include caller ID, voicemail, call waiting, call forwarding, call waiting, conference calling, and 411 service. The Automated Call Screening feature promises to block unwanted calls from automated calling systems, telemarketers and others.
Number porting is available for US and Canadian numbers, allowing you to keep your current landline number. The phone carrier service is provided by MagicJack’s sister company, YMAX.
What Does MagicJack Cost?
The price of the magicJack HOME device, which includes 12 months of inbound and outbound phone service is $49.99. Renewing costs $43/year. You can get 2 years of service for $79 or a 3-year pan for $109. (about $36/year, or $3/month!)
Something new with MagicJack is the option to choose only magicIN (inbound calling) or magicOUT (outbound calling) when you sign up. If you choose only one of those (one-way calling), you'll get 15 months of service instead of 12 months, and your renewal will by $38/year. I'm not sure why one might want to have just inbound calling or just outbound calling, but that's an option. It might make sense if you want to transfer your existing landline to MagicJack for inbound calls, and use your mobile phone for everything else.
The companion magicApp for Android or iOS enables free local and long-distance calls to any numbers in the U. S. and Canada on your smartphone using WiFi or 4G service. WiFi is widely available for free, but using the 4G service you'll have to keep in mind your data caps and charges. Worldwide calling is free with app-to-app or app-to-Jack device. If you have a companion MagicJack device, you can set up your MagicApp number to ring at your MagicJack home or business number and on your smartphone simultaneously.
Can I Really Fire the Phone Company?
MagicJack 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 MagicJack really does deliver what it promises. You pay a flat fee per year, and you never get a monthly phone bill.
Using MagicJack, 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 MagicJack 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. You can also call international numbers at very low per-minute rates. Call to the UK, France or Germany for 2.2 cents/minute, Mexico for 4.0 cents/minute, or China for 3.3 cents/minute.
So YES, you can cancel your landline service with the phone company and cut them out of the loop. I've heard from many people over years who have done just that. Like any VoIP service, MagicJack needs a reliable Internet connection; at least 128 Kbps in both directions. DSL, cable, fiber, and other land-based broadband works well with VoIP, but dialup and satellite connections are likely to be problematic.
Most MagicJack purchasers on Amazon give the service high ratings for call quality. Emergency 911 service is available with MJ, but with MagicJack Wireless. It's a completely separate option from the MagicJack home phone service, for people who want to break away from one of the "Big Three" wireless companies. Plans start with the "Talk & Text" option at $15/month for 500 minutes, 1000 text messages, and 250MB of mobile data. Then there are the 3GB Plan ($18/month), 6GB Plan ($21/month), 10GB Plan ($24/month), and the Unlimited Plan ($30/month). Each of those includes unlimited talk & text plus varying amounts of mobile hotspot capability. Keep in mind that ANY wireless service that's advertised as "unlimited" will have limits. Read the small print.
Those prices assume a purchase of 3 lines. The price per line goes down a little if you get more lines, and up a bit if you get fewer. MagicJack Wireless is a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) that resells T-Mobile service. I've written about other MVNOs such as Tello (see Say Hello to Tello - Shrink Your Mobile Phone Bill, Ting (see
Ting-a-Ling! Save on Your Mobile Phone Bill and Consumer Cellular (see
Do You Love Your Phone Company?. So you might want to check those out as well.
MagicJack Customer Service
I've had quite a few people contacting me, thinking that my website is MagicJack Customer Service. It's not... I'm a tech journalist. I don't get any sort of commission from the company, and I don't have a red phone with a direct line to MJ Headquarters. But you CAN visit the MagicJack Customer Service page online, or call MJ Support at 844-866-2442 . That's all the info I have on MagicJack 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.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below…
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Aug 2022
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Will This Gadget Replace Your Landline? (Posted: 5 Aug 2022)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved