Pros: Noticeable savings, not playing the old tiring home phone monlthly bill game.
Cons: Rare connection issues. No Fax support. Dial local area code. Game of fees.
MagicJack Plus is a $70 device that plugs into a USB port on the user's computer, or it can be plugged into Internet hub or router and standard 110volt power outlet (thus not requiring a computer) and it uses a standard RJ-11 phone jack into which any standard phone can be plugged. This allows the user to make phone calls to any phone in the U.S. and Canada for $20 a year.
In short, products like MagicJack Plus allow you to save on your communications bill, (Internet, TV, and Phone).
An increasing number of people, like a couple of my friends did, give up their home phones because they find that what their mobile phones offer them sufficient for both business and pleasure. If giving up your home phone is not an option for you, I suggest that you stop playing this outdated game of paying monthly for a land line- AT&T is so obnoxious they impose a 250 minute a month limit on their basic type of land lines (what they label “Voice”). AT&T’s U-Verse campaign implies it’s 2012, but this “Voice” game is reminiscent of the AT&T monopoly days.
In my neck of the woods there’s this company called Comcast that offers fastest internet via cable, and that just happens to be what I need for work. I signed up with them on a $100/month promotion for Cable, Voice and needless to say, Internet. My internet provider likes to raise payments disproportionately to inflation, just because they can. My first conversation with them resulted in my bill going from $130 to $110 (customer retention program). This year we had the same conversation after their “traditional” fee raise, but Comcast told me there was nothing they could do this time. With MagicJack Plus my bill went from $125 (tax included) to under $75. Plus my internet connection was upgraded in the process: I started to see doubled download speeds in excess of one Megabyte per second.
A 3rdgrader armed with a crayon will tell you it’s $650/year (MJ Plus expense included) saving with MagicJack “just because YOU can”. I tried indoor digital antenna too, but that device could not catch a single channel in San Jose, CA. Had it worked my Comcast bill would have been under $50. Just an idea you might have better luck with.
What is that Plus for?
The Original MagicJack could have only been used with a Desktop or Laptop equipped with a USB port: with this steup if you computer turns off or goes to sleep, you cannot make or receive phone calls. The Plus model allows using MagicJack without a computer, thus making your land line more reliable. Also you can port your phone number over to MJ following a simple procedure and allowing 7 days for the change to take effect.
Product advertisement & Competitors.
Heavy TV advertisements for MJ have subsided recently, now that there are 8 million users of the device. MagicJack.COM website is suggesting that this device is so cool and user friendly that you simply must try it. A female soccer player of post-teen age suggests, in one of the on-site posted videos, that she uses hear head for scoring goals in soccer games, and also to figure out that buying MagicJack is no brainer. A child tells how easy the thing is to use. A small box, you plug a phone into for $20 A YEAR, simple and honest feel good website… But as always the devil is in the details (later about that). MJ Competitors: netTALK (don’t know much about them) seem to be MJ’s direct rival, Ooma, another similar company offering a $200 device, with promise of the best service (they must be very similar to MagicJack. Free calls to US and Canada. I did not like the idea of Vonage because it’s the same old “land line monthly payment game”.
eBay or Amazon might be a cheaper option for the device itself. One thing that is not mentioned in MJ advertisements on their website is that their MagicJack ordering wizard (when you go from one screen with selections to be made to another) is a money milking machine. First you find out that the little box is $70, next aside from $20 a year you have to pay additional $10 for keeping your own number (instead of an assigned one in the area code of your choosing). And everywhere in between you get a chance to drop more coins (ordering additional MJ Plus boxes for less, paying for 5 years in advance- all according to the genius of marketing formula of “the more you buy the more you save!” :) My magic jack arrived in 4 days after ordering and setting it up was straight forward. Transferring my home phone number too 1 week total (including canceling my local company phone service).
I see a phone as a bare necessity, thus the only feature I use is the Caller ID (no name is displayed though , just the caller’s phone number). Call Waiting, Directory Assistance (wish I knew what that feature is for), and international calling to the US are some of the added bonus features MJ offers. You can use MJ in hotels- people dialing your home number can call you in a hotel if you take MJ Plus with you when travelling. MJ provides its own answering machine system e-mailing you the actual messages callears leave for you when you are anavailable.
I consider calling support about a problem with you home phone something no one should never ever be doing, because it’s simply a home phone- and it should simply work. MagicJack.COM website offers help pages, most of which you can google for.
Unfortunately I will need to call MJ support soon. The nest section is just about that.
1) MagicJack Plus you have to dial 1 and Area code every time you dial a local number- so you better enter as many numbers as you can into your handset’s memory.
2) In a month of use I got disconnected once when I heard MJ error 1 (connection problem).
3) When I tried to plug phone cable into my fax machine I got a connection error after 3 (out of 7 pages) were faxed. I figured I better fax from work or get a computer app for that.
4) Well you might think I’m hearing and seeing things, but… My handsets batteries seem to die much sooner than before MJ. The voice quality sometimes is combed with clicks. Both of these problems I can live with.
5) I usually get calls regularly from someone who works in a large company in the same area code as my phone #, and only 5 miles away. Ever since I got MJ that person gets busy signal (must be to specifics of the company’s phone system and its incompatibility with MJ).
6) I got MJ Error 23 a few times- that’s when a phone call gets dropped and then your landline stops working. I was talking to my bank rep. about giving me password to their website they never sent me after I registered- I got disconnected when I was read my temporary password… I was, mildly put disappointed then…
7) The answering machine that comes will MJ will basically disable the answering machine on your phone making it useless. Instead you will need to access MJ messaging system. Some messages MJ stores for you are 0.00 duration in lenght only telling you from which # the call was made.
I got a phone call from my bank the other day- this nice Asian lady was telling me about my check book order, that the “nature” design I selected was no longer offered, all with her neat accent. You know what she was talking about?.. When you have landscapes drawn on your checks- you have your mountains, fields, forests and other eye-candy nature scenes right were you spell the dollar amount, put date, and sign, etc… So, I asked if any other design was available (like I can’t live without my mountain and tree tops…) similar to what I had before- she described something similar for $28. That prompted me to ask now much were blank, un-beautified checks, and she said $20. Being the honest guy that I am, I told here that for $8 I will take my crayons out and draw mountains and forests on my checks myself if I got such urge. Next, we both couldn’t stop laughing until the end of our awkward conversation :)
Same with MagicJack Plus – I can punch in area codes dialing local numbers or to reach MagicJack support, but I can find better use for $650 each year.
Mar.30, 2012 UPDATE: I've used MagicJack Plus for 2 months now, and during the 2nd month I didn't have any connection problems or lost signal issues, although one person calling from office phone still always gets busy signal dialing my #(due to their "special" corporate phone sistem). I've learned that MagicJack supports 2nd line calls: you hear audible tones while speaking on the phone if someone else is trying to reach you at that moment, thus allowing you to "flash" from one line to the other and back.
I got a RadioShack "dect 6.0" telephone with a base and 2 hand sets and no answering machine, but "answering machine support" instead. Such phone configuration seems to be the perferct minimalist set up for MJ, since answering machine comes with MagicJack (same as on your cell phone), i.e. on the network. The handsets have indication of a message being left on handset's screens, and the base flashes "Message" light. Many of the newer "dect 6.0" cordless phones must be configured similarly.
And last, on the topic of emergencies:
911 calls, with MJ they can be made freely (dah :) with fast connection. MJ claims that 911 dispatchers see your phone # and address you enter when registering your actual MagicJack device. I would still find a way to check that 911 dispatchers actually know your address when you call, this issue being such a big deal.
Electrical power down is a show stopper for voice-over-ip phone use unless:
a) you have a stupid (I say it with love) good old corded phone with no power supply
b) you have a power supply backup in your internet provided's box
c) you find USB power for the MagicJack itself (laptop or something).
... so I assume you have a mobile phone
Buttom line: now AT&T sends me ads for Internet+TV for $69/month, as opposed to Internet+TV+Voice(250min/month limit plan) for $89/month just two months ago.
It's good to see AT&T marketing execs cut donw on golf practice. I don't care how much they suck at golfing for as long as nobody gets hurt.
Update after 1 year of use:
There's a catch: You have to pay $10.43 annually to keep on using your home phone number. MJ folk call it "number renewal fee".
Who needs a home phone???
US mobile companies are the United States' disgrace. A case of capitalism and freedom failing a nation. US Governement gave mobile carriers the freedom to use mobile technologies incompatible between one cellular network to the other. Capitalistm drove wireless providers to to hand slapping and suing for touching what's mine. The reresult? I tried Verizon, AT&T, T-Mibile and Sprint over the last decade. None ever where reliable, and AT&T even got worse with time. Sprint and T-Mobile have micro-spot signal (Sprint will not work in my kitchen, but works well upstairs in my home, T-Mobile never finds signal when I go to garage). Verizon is only semi-decent but charges like they provide land line reliability. 2nd, and even 3rd world countries have cellular networks to wipe all US carriers noses any day and twice on Sunday!
The conclusion still stays the same:
Magick Jack is still all right, even with the bee hive of its magic fees. Before you sign up still research what its competitors like netTalk, have to offer.