You wouldn’t know it to look at me but I’m not the biggest fan of technology. I grew up in a home that still uses a rotary phone, never had a microwave or an answering machine, but I kind of liked it that way. Usually when technology made an advance, it meant more money had to be spent to keep up and that was money our family just didn’t have.
It wasn’t until I graduated college in 2007 that I decided I needed a cell phone. Previously, I had relied on land lines for all communication and while a cell phone was certainly more convenient, I never felt I received my $50 a month worth. Sure I would make a few calls here and there but for a guy like me that talks on the phone for less than 100 minutes a month and doesn’t text, it just wasn’t worth it.
Luckily for me and hopefully for you too, magicJack came along. I had heard a lot of television and radio ads about this device that could be plugged into your computer and your calls would be made through the internet. Skeptical at first (and stuck in what felt like a 20 year contract with AT&T) I was reluctant to give it a try. Then, when I moved into my current apartment and didn’t have any cell phone reception, I had enough. It was time to test if magicJack was an illusion. (Aren’t I hilarious!)
The Positives of magicJack
The very first thing I noticed when receiving magicJack through the mail was it’s simplicity. The contents of the package weigh no more than 8 ounces and inside was the magicJack, a USB extender (about six inches long) if you need it and the easiest step by step directions you’ll ever see to install the product. Because I didn’t have a land line at the time, I visited my local Target and bought an awesome Panasonic phone (with two receivers) for $40.
After taking 30 seconds to set up my two phones, I follow the directions as instructed:
- Plug any phone into magicJack
- Plug magicJack into any USB port
- Pick up your phone an talk for free
After plugging my magicJack into the USB port, it took me about three minutes before I was able to make my first call. Registering the product was a cinch and choosing my phone number was even easier. magicJack allows you to select any area code in the country, then provides you the opportunity to choose your own number (from the available list) for just $3. If you don’t want to take advantage of that offer, they’ll select a random one for you at no additional cost. Once you have you’re number selected, the installation wizard will close and you can now make calls on your computer line.
In terms of the quality of phone calls, I’ve been using magicJack for a couple of weeks and every call made and received has been 100% crystal clear. No dropped calls or mangled voices of any kind and I can call anyone in the US or Canada anytime I want. Setting up voice-mail was just as easy and if I ever decide to leave the country, I can take my magicJack with me and make free calls back to the US and Canada. How cool is that!
And, for those of you that don’t like the additional hardware of land-line telephones, you can utilize your magicJack using the built in microphone and speaker in your computer. Hook up your headset and make calls using the magicJack interface above.
The Inconvenience of magicJack
Even though magicJack is saving me a ton of money each month and is extremely simple to use, the product isn’t perfect. I’ve come across a couple of ‘slight’ inconveniences that you may experience when using magicJack.
The largest issue I run into with magicJack is the amount of USB ports it uses when I plug it into my desktop. I can’t complain about the size of magicJack, I mean it’s literally 2 cubic inches (2″x1″x1″) but my current desktop has six USB ports and three of them are consumed by the magicJack’s size. With my printer, wireless keyboard and mouse and speakers, I’m out of USB ports. My external flash drives are out of luck on this one.
Another small inconvenience was the magicJack window that pops up on my computer every-time I receive a call. I’m writing most of the day and if you receive a call, the magicJack window is called to the front. Sometimes, by accident, I continue to type a couple of letters after it appears and the call immediately goes to voice-mail. I could be mistaken in that there’s a way to make sure this doesn’t happen but I haven’t found it yet!
Overall Value of magicJack
You’ll notice that my issues with magicJack don’t arise from it’s ease, it’s quality or it’s price, rather from things that could be somewhat unique to my situation. I’m nitpicking a bit but those are the only drawbacks I could find. If you’re certain magicJack is the phone for you in the future, you can sign up for five additional years at a discounted rate of $69.99, making you’re phone service even cheaper than $20 a year!
While magicJack wasn’t completely able to replace my cell phone, (road emergencies mostly) I did change my plan to become an added line rather than a standalone plan, which saved $40 a month right there. Conservatively speaking, my first year savings from this move is $275 and every additional year I keep the $10 cell phone plan and magicJack is $340. When I factor the savings into the quality of calls I now give and receive, I’m kicking myself for not doing this a couple of years ago. Better late than never I suppose.
Anyone with a high speed internet connection and a non-magicJack land line needs to switch to this magicJack ASAP. There is absolutely no reason to continue paying more than $1.75 a month for your home telephone service and I’m certain after you try magicJack, you’ll love it.
Published or updated July 28, 2010.