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Have some fun, maybe lower your phone bill, Check out Magic Jack

Have some fun, maybe lower your phone bill, Check out Magic Jack

No politics, just a short article on a toy we have all seen on TV, Magic Jack. Will the MagicJack work? Will it lower your bills? Yes and maybe. I am in the IT field and my job is telecommunications so I couldn’t hold out any longer. I spent $39.95 at CVS for the MagicJack and started playing.











If you’ve tried other PC-to-phone services, MagicJack is definitely in the running.

Installation and do you need to be a Geek?

White, male, aging, crooked teeth, messy hair,...Image via Wikipedia

90% of all installations will go smoothly, half of the rest will require light Geeking and a trip to tech support (on line chat) There will be some part of the remaining 5% that will require knowledge of terms like UDP, TCP, Port forwarding, VPN and firewalls along with a good grasp of very short meaningful words and phrases.

Buy a MagicJack online or pick one up at CVS, Radio Shack, Staples and more. When you get your Magic Jack you’ll be able to install it and start making phone calls in minutes, except for the small minority of people that will scare spouses and children once the frustration level peaks.

In the package you get the Magic Jack USB device and a short USB extension cord you can use if your USB ports are too crowded to fit another device next to another port. MJ is small, about 2-1/2 inches long by 1-3/8 inches wide, and 3/8 of an inch thick.


Plug the MJ into a USB port in your computer or laptop. You could have problems if you use a USB hub unless it is AC powered. If you have too many USB devices it can run your PC short of power as all USB ports share a single power source and then you will need to buy a powered hub, but that is not a fault with the MagicJack.

After the first step the MJ will do nearly everything for you, after all, it is magic. Step one: Plug it in. It will take a minute or two to load and download the software to make it work with your computer.

You’ll see a picture of the MagicJack; you get several messages while the software is loading, then the “soft phone” screen which will live on your desktop. You can minimize the soft phone screen when you’re not using your internet phone for calling, but be prepared for it to pop to the front any time you receive or make a call. This can be annoying but can be lived with.

How do I use the Soft Phone?

The Soft Phone is especially useful if you decide to use a headset with a microphone in place of a regular telephone. You can use the Soft Phone to dial a number, or use any phone that you have connected to the MJ. While MJ advertises Caller ID, it will only pop up names for numbers you have listed in your contacts. You get free Voice Mail and 411 service through Free411. The Free411 service works fairly well but in Maine cannot tell the difference between Hampden and Hampton. If you don’t mind the ads the free 411 is worth it.

magic jack softphone screen

The Soft phone screen and the rectangle on the left may contain paid advertising in the future, but as long as I can use the phone without responding to an ad I’m OK with that. During installation you will be prompted for an address to assign your 911 location. You will have to put something in there and remember that if you move or have your laptop somewhere else, the 911 information being sent should be updated or the ambulance could show up 3000 miles away.

The 911 info is also the way MJ decides what area code to assign. WARNING Mainers, and users in other States, your area code may not be available and this could cause your next door neighbor to pay a toll call from a cell phone or landline just to call you. There is currently no 207 area code available. If MJ picks a wrong area code you are allowed one free change so be prepared to change it to somewhere useful. If your family or friends are in Florida you can have a number from Florida that may end up a local call for your friends.

How does the price compare to other services?

MJ costs $40.00 out the door and about $20 for a year of service. The first year is free with purchase. Skype is about $30 a year. Vonage is about $500 per year. Nuff said?

What does it sound like? Will I sound like I am calling from Mars?


VoIP always gets some negative reviews for sound quality. The quality is far better than expected, good enough to send faxes and free for long distance. At $19.95 a year, live with it as that is the current state of the art with VoIP. I don’t think there are any measurable differences with MJ compared to any other service.

Tech Support?

There are no numbers you can call, but there is an online live chat service. It is exactly what you expect for under $2.00 a month, but in most cases you will get an answer 24×7.

Customer Service?

I don’t think they included that one.

I like the MJ and you can get a 30-day free trial, although I recommend Staples where you can get a refund if returned in 14 days and you won’t pay shipping for a return.

What do I get With MagicJack?

You could get, A phone number with your area code, (not yet in Maine)

  • If you choose an area code outside of Maine you may get to choose from several local exchanges in your chosen area code, further reducing the cost for friends to call you.
  • Free voicemail. The voicemail feature works even if MJ is not connected to a PC, if you remember to set it up. It is not automatic.

  • Portability. It is only a little bigger than a thumb drive and you can carry it with you. You can use a laptop, a friend’s pc and when in a hotel you won’t have to pay roaming charges on your cell phone or the huge hotel per-call fees as long as you have an internet connection. You can plug the hotel phone into MJ or just carry a headset with microphone with you.
  • Unlimited calling within Canada and the United States.

With MagicJack as long as you are connected to the internet and can plug in, if someone calls you, your phone rings. Do you have kids that tie up a line at home? A second line for your kids is cheap with MJ.

The MagicJack is a great way to save your cell phone minutes, especially for those of you with no landline.

Downside……You Could Also Get

  • A higher electric bill, to use Magic Jack, your computer needs to be turned on. No computer, no calls. Incoming will go to your free voice mail if your PC is turned off but only if you remember to set it up. No power, no internet, means no Magic Jack.
  • Magic Jack as good as the rest, most of the time, but the forums will tell you that it can be unreliable at times. The problems seem to be related to a rapid growth, not an unwillingness to invest in infrastructure.

Summary is it worth it?

There is nothing cheaper than Magic Jack if you are going to use VoIP. It is easiest VoIP solution to install. If you are a beginner MJ will make the installation and use painless and if you are a professional there are a number of other features and tweaks that are not covered here that you will discover on your own. For VoIP, Magic Jack, while not perfect, is at least equal to the rest and at an unbeatable price. Top of Form


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July 7th, 2009 Posted by narsbars | Magic Jack, Magic Jack review, MagicJack, MagicJack review, Skype, Telecommunication | no comments

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