Make free long distance calls anywhere in USA and Canada with magicJack
I recently ordered this new gadget called magicJack that can be used to make free long distance calls anywhere in USA and Canada without a phone service or even a telephone set. You do, however, need a computer running Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or an Intel-based Mac that has a broadband connection to the Internet. This is one of the limitations that may be an issue for some people.
How does magicJack work?
MagicJack is a new voice over IP (VoIP) device about the size of a matchbox that has two connectors. You plug one end into the USB port on your computer. The other end connects to an analog phone. Once you plug this product it takes about a minute or so for it to load and configure the software. It doesn’t install any software on the computer (except for a shortcut on the desktop). MagicJack’s software runs in memory and the device configures itself automatically. If you want to remove the software, all you have to do is unplug magicJack from the USB port and delete the shortcut icon on the desktop.
When you plug magicJack into another computer, your Contacts list and other information is automatically displayed because the information is saved on the device, not on the computer where you initially configured the product. This allows you to simply roam between computers without re-configuring magicJack. For example, you can take this little gadget with you when you travel with your laptop. As long as your computer is connected to the Internet, you can can plug one end of your magicJack into your computer’s USB port and the other to an analog telephone set. You can then use the phone to dial as you normally would, except that your phone will not be plugged into the phone company’s wall jack. There is no need for a telephone service to use this device. However, in case your Internet connection is down you might want to have your cell phone handy to call 911 in case of an emergency. You don’t have to have a phone set to use magicJack, you can also use your computer’s microphone and a headset.
In the past couple of days that I’ve used magicJack, I’ve successfully tested it on Windows XP Professional SP2 and Windows Vista. I haven’t had a chance to test it on a Mac but there is a beta version available right now that is supposed to work on Intel-based Macs. According to the manufacturer’s Web site, to upgrade your magicJack to work on a Macintosh, you must plug magicJack into a USB port on a Windows computer.
As far as price, magicJack costs $39.95, which includes the service charges for the first year. The following year you’ll pay only $20/year. That’s less than $2 per month. So technically the device costs $19.95 because the $39.95 includes one-year subscription.
The nice thing about magicJack is that it lets you make free calls to anywhere in the United States and Canada regardless of your location. So whether you are in Brazil at an Internet cafe or at an office in Nepal, the calls you make to United States and Canada are free without any per-minute charges.
I should point out that besides free long-distance calls to US and Canada, you also get free voice mail, free call forwarding, free three-way calling, free caller ID, and a free phone number of your choice of area code with magicJack. I haven’t had a chance to try the voice mail service or faxing through magicJack yet.
– The biggest drawback of magicJack is that it locks up and the quality of phone call is not very good. You get what you pay for.
– If you are talking to someone and get disconnected, a common occurrence with magicJack, you end up rebooting the computer. It can take several minutes for the computer to reboot and then to start magicJack before you can retry the call. For this reason, I do not recommend magicJack at all. As I mentioned earlier, you get what you pay for.
– Another drawback of magicJack is that it requires a computer to make phone calls. There are other VoIP solutions that do not have this requirement and their quality is much better than magicJack.
– MagicJack doesn’t allow you to import or export the Contacts list but there is an add-in for Microsoft Outlook that you can download. The add-in allows you to dial directly from your contacts in Outlook.
– The biggest challenge you will face after purchasing magicJack is getting it out of its bubble pack. On the Internet forums people rate magicJack’s packaging as its biggest flaw.
– I have also noticed that some of the links in the software are broken. Several of the components are relatively new or are still in beta so that might be a reason for some broken links. For example, you can supposedly optimize magicJack by clicking on a link but the link is broken and gives you file error. It takes you to the URL http://support.magicjack.com/magicfix/magicFix.html which does not exist. After doing some troubleshooting I discovered that it should be pointed to http://www.magicjack.com/site/magicfix.html.
– As far as tech support, I experienced it to be pretty non-existing. I tried to access the technical forum at http://forum.magicjack.com/forum/index.php but I received the error “Sorry but this board is currently unavailable.”
Update: April 24, 2010
Overall, magicJack has not been a stellar product for most people. I had only listed a few drawbacks in my original review in 2007. As you can tell by people’s comments, there are just too many issues that people are facing with this product. As often is the case with AS SEEN ON TV products, magicJack is just another product that, despite it’s infomercials, is too much hype and not much substance. As most people seem to have experienced, including me, that magicJack’s tech support is practically non-existent. Keep that in mind before you purchase this product.
Copyright ©2007 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.