MagicJack is a small device invented by Dan Borislow that allows you to make telephone calls over your high-speed Internet connection for the cost of $20 a year or $69.99 for 5 years.
After purchasing the MagicJack you connect the device to the USB port of a computer connected to the Internet. MagicJack will automatically download the program, ask you to register, choose your phone number and establish your location for 911 service. Once you have completed this you are ready to make phone calls using either a microphone and speakers, a headset or a traditional telephone.
Making/Receiving Phone Calls
To make a phone call you can pick up a telephone handset and dial the number or use the number pad on the MagicJack interface to dial instead. When you finish with the call hang up the phone or press the “End” button on the MagicJack window.
When somebody calls you the MagicJack window will pop up on your computer screen and display a message with the name or number of the caller. Answer your telephone as you normally would or press the “Accept” button if you are using a headset or other device.
MagicJack devices are designed to allow international phone calls. To make an international phone call you have to set up a prepaid account with MagicJack before making the phone calls.
If the person you are calling has access to high speed internet you have a method to allow unlimited long distance phone calls regardless of country. MagicJack allows unlimited calls to other MagicJack users worldwide. By purchasing a second MagicJack and sending it to the person you routinely call you will be able to call them as often as you desire without cost.
Voicemail on the MagicJack can be retrieved by pressing the Voicemail button on the MagicJack interface. You will also receive email messages with your voicemails attached that you do not even have to be near your MagicJack to receive. This means that you no longer have to invest in an answering machine or have to wait until you get home to retrieve important messages. If you use a messaging program like Yahoo Instant Messenger you will instantly be notified of any voicemails that are sent to that email address.
The MagicJack device can be used with almost any computer that runs XP or newer Windows operating systems or Intel-based Apple Macs. Mr. Borislow has made several promises regarding Linux support but as of July 2010 Linux support is not available.
You can take a MagicJack with you and use the MagicJack anywhere you can access a computer system that has high-speed Internet access. You can also take your MagicJack and use it with a laptop to make and receive phone calls from anywhere you can access the Internet including wireless hot spots.
When I moved to my current home I sat outside and used a free wireless hotspot to call my Internet provider to schedule my installation and check in with family and friends instead of using the minutes on my cell phone.
I also take my MagicJack with me when I go to various places like the library and other public hotspots and keep it connected to my laptop to make and receive phone calls using my computer headset. Unless I tell the person on the other end of the line no one is the wiser as to my true location.
By using the MagicJack wherever you have Internet access you can reduce the number of minutes you need to purchase on your cell phone, which will save you even more money on your phone bill.911 Availability
Unlike some other VoIP phone services, MagicJack enables users to contact 911 and have their location information available to emergency personnel. Whenever you use your MagicJack device in a new location, update the 911 system with your current address to enable E911 personnel to locate you in an emergency. Unlike cell phones that only have your home address and need to use sophisticated technology to locate you should you need assistance you can input your address which will automatically be sent to emergency personnel, saving precious minutes in the event that you are unable to talk.
Another advantage to the MagicJack service is the large oval “911” button made available on the interface. A single click of the mouse will connect you to emergency personnel without having to remember what numbers to dial in certain rural areas.
You can also forward calls to a MagicJack number to another phone like a cell phone so that you won’t miss calls when you are not able to keep the MagicJack device connected.
The MagicJack device can be used to inexpensively add extra phone lines to a home so that children and small businesses can have their own private phone number and service. This device could be given to family members to use at home for their own private phone number then taken with them when they move out. This would be perfect for teenagers moving off to college, enabling them to call home frequently without out the fear of outrageous phone expenses.
Note that only one MagicJack device can be successfully used on a single computer at one time, but that if one MagicJack device is disconnected another one can be used on the same computer-just not simultaneously.
As with all services there are disadvantages to the MagicJack service. MagicJack only operates when you are connected to a computer, so if your computer is turned off or nonfunctional you will be unable to make or receive phone calls.
If you are not able to access a high-speed Internet connection you will also be unable to send and receive phone calls.
Some computers that are infected with viruses or spyware may not work well with the MagicJack interface, and the MagicJack will provide poor service if connected to an un-powered USB hub. The MagicJack website recommends that the device be either connected directly to a USB port attached to your computer or into a powered USB hub.
In order to use the MagicJack service you will be required to purchase the MagicJack device. This device is sold online or at retailers such as Wal Mart and Radio Shack for $39.95. This price does include the first year of phone service. The online purchase method via the MagicJack website does include a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
If you do not have the MagicJack device available you will be unable to make and receive phone calls. This means that if you ever lose or damage your MagicJack device you will be forced to replace the device to be able to make and receive calls again.
The primary complaint I have heard from those who have used the device is the fact that your computer must be powered on to make or receive phone calls, forcing one to keep the computer turned on at all times.
Customer service can only be reached via chat on the MagicJack website. According to Dan Borislow this not only reduces overhead costs and enables him to keep the MagicJack prices low but also eliminates the Internet connection as a cause of MagicJack issues.
Another complaint I have heard is the fact that one must dial the area code with every single phone call made which is considered inconvenient.
A third complaint involves weak Wi-Fi signals. A user declared that really weak Wi-Fi signals made phone connections choppy or nonfunctional on the MagicJack service.
After using a MagicJack device for close to 2 years I recommend it highly to those in search of a portable, inexpensive phone service. I have recommended it to several people over the course of the time I have used it and the people that I know who have given the MagicJack a try find it to not only be an inexpensive solution but one they recommend as well.
The service does have disadvantages that must be weighed with your individual needs; however the fact stands that MagicJack charges a mere $20 a year for the service–a bargain basement price for what you receive. If the imperfections are not worth the annual price paid then the MagicJack service may not be for you.
If you are in search of a phone device that is not only inexpensive but that you can carry with you to use wherever you are, consider purchasing a MagicJack. You may find that it is more than enough to suit your needs.
Kellin Shepperd, MagicJack user