Product Reviews

MagicJack

VOIP phone service

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MagicJack
VOIP (Voice Over-Internet Protocol) service

magicJack Device
 

Rating: ☻☻☻☻☻

No need to pay the phone company exorbitant monthly fees anymore for your landline.  Use your internet service to make and receive calls (like Vonage does.) Digital voice transmission has come a long way.  It used to be that digital lines were choppy and sometimes hard to understand.  But today, the digital segments are so small, and clear that your ear cannot really tell what kind of line (analog or digital) you are speaking over. 

Several companies now offer VOIP services, and some (like Vonage) use it exclusively.  This type of service requires a physical device to plug your phone into, and then the device plugs either into a computer or an Ethernet (or wireless) hub.  Some devices are large, and not designed to carry around with you.  And some devices are small (like the MagicJack), can be carried in your pocket, and can be used worldwide -- anywhere with a DSL or broadband connection, or a computer USB port hooked into a DSL or broadband internet connection.

This review is abut the MagicJack solution, which bar none, is the lowest cost solution anywhere. MagicJack was an early VOIP adopter, the service is digital, not analog, but the voice is clear, and it works equally well with voice or data.

PROs

Cheapest voice-call service on the planet -- $2/month on a 5-year plan.
Easy to use, reliable, can be used anywhere in the world.
Free Android or Apple MJ-app allows free voice calls (over WiFi connection) on your PDAs (smart phone or tablet)
Will work with most FAX machines.

CONs

Requires DSL, or broadband, internet connection for best service.
It will work on dial-up modem, but calls may be frequently interrupted or dropped. Some services cost extra (911, vanity numbers, Canadian numbers.) Customer service is minimal.
If you replace (transfer number or time) or upgrade an MJ device, the old device is permanently deactivated, and you can never use it again. (However, if you just let your time expire, you can reactivate it by buying more time).

REVIEW

I've used MJ and MJ+ for years, and recently added the MJ-go. They are by far the cheapest way to make voice call on the planet - $2/month on a five-year plan (paid up front with no monthly fees) Or you can also pay $5/month on a monthly billing plan. You can also FAX over the MJ connection. And they will work anywhere on the planet.  Some overseas call centers use MagicJacks to service US and Canadian customer calls.

MJ (plain version)

This original version is being retired, and if you allow your service time to run out, you will not be able to reactivate it. The plain version requires a computer, and that the computer be on.

MJ+ and MJ-go

The current versions are the MJ+ and the MJ-go. Both can work off a computer, or be plugged directly into Ethernet or wireless router hubs. The MJ+ has two USB ports of unknown function, while the MJ-go lacks the USB ports. 

The MJ-go touts conference calling as a feature, but both the MJ+ and the MJ-go can do conference calls, and they do it the same way -- you set up the conference call capability in your Magic Jack account, get a free conference number, which is good for 30-days after the last usage, so just use it at least once in a 30-day period to keep the same conference call number.  If you already have the MJ+, there is no need to upgrade to the MJ-go.  

MJ devices will work on two-line or four-line phones (one device per line.) Some multi-line phones also have a conference call capability of their own - across their multi-lines. I don't know if that adds to the MJ-go's conference calls. Theoretically, it should double the conference lines, but I have not tried it. (I have three active MJ+ plugged into router hubs on ether net cable, with two of them plugged into a two-line phone.).

The advantages to plug into a PC is you get a splash screen with a dial pad, your contacts, your call history, and your phone number is also displayed (don't laugh, when you have multiple numbers, it is hard to remember which one you are calling from.) The phones I use have that capability built in, so I just plug into a hub (also my PC-XP is old and crashes all the time.) The device is useful immediately when plugged into a router hub, but you have to wait for the device to boot and for the splash screen to appear when plugging into a PC or Mac.

Once in a while I do have to reboot a MJ+'s when the dial tone is lost. But that could also be the digital phone plugged into it. I usually just cut the power to the phone, and the dial tone reappears when I restore power. But sometimes I have to pull out the MJ+ and reinsert it. It is best to plug the power adapter into a UPS or at least a surge-protected socket.

MJ-app

I also have the MJ-app for smart-phones or tablets. It works over WiFi or data connection. I have a WiFi-only tablet, and I have made and received voice calls using the MJ-app. You should also be able to use the app on more than one Android or Apple device, but I have not tried that.

You can assign one of your existing MJ numbers to the app (you can choose and change it any time if you have multiple MJ devices), or you can get a special number just for the app (small fee for the extra number.) When using an existing MJ device number, an incoming call will ring at both the MJ device (the phone plugged into it), and the smart-phone or tablet with the app.

Both the physical device and the app can be used worldwide. For the physical device, all you have to do is find a broadband connection anywhere in the world.  For the App, all you need is a WiFi connection. 

Many overseas call centers use MagicJack to serve clients in the US and Canada.  This internet-only phone service gives them a US-based phone number, and almost-free voice-phone connectivity.

DROPPING YOUR TRADITIONAL PHONE COMPANY

Many VOIP users, including myself, have totally dropped our traditional landline service and saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars a year in traditional telephone service fees.  Some people argue that traditional service is superior to VOIP because copper wire telephone lines have their own power source, and are always available during storms and emergencies.  That is NOT totally true.  It is true that copper wire telephone lines have their own power source, but so do cables.  Both are just as frequently interrupted during storms, as are power lines -- and also subject to electro-magnetic interference during solar storms or nuclear explosions (because there are always service boxes above ground.)    
 

 

2014  Simon Revere Mouer III, PhD, PE, all rights reserved