It is time to revisit this product.  I’ve read such venomous comments about this product!  I believe and it is my experience that magicJack works just GREAT, so long as the purchaser AND the user are properly equipped to use it successfully!

Yes, let the buyer beware.  However, also be sure that the buyer and user do not have unrealistic expectations.  The first order of business is to be sure there is sufficient bandwidth for magicJack to properly function.  This has to be the single biggest impediment to success with the product.  If you have what you think is high speed Internet service, you may be wrong.  Just because you have DSL or a cable Internet is no guarantee that service speed is sufficient.  In my view, service has to be at least 3MB downstream and 512Kb upstream.  If you have less, then expect to experience problems. Even if you have higher speed service you may still experience issues with the service.

For example, if your family shares the Internet service and, let us say, some users are always on and downloading files as well as posting to social networks or elsewhere on the Internet, or if you have online gamers in the home, bandwidth is getting sucked up and there may be little remaining for satisfying magicJack service.  The same would be true if you have a service such as Vonage or Packet8, both of which use Voice over IP (Internet) technology for their phone service.  There’s no magic here. Either you’ve got the bandwidth or you don’t.

On the other hand, if you have 10MB downstream with 2MB upstream service, you will likely have excellent phone service from magicJack and just about any other similar service regardless of what you spend.

So before you complain about magicJack service, be sure you are targeting blame appropriately!  The buck just might stop with YOU!

Since I first wrote on this topic early in 2008, I have accumulated quite a bit of personal experience with the product.  When I am taxing my own Internet service, my 6MB downstream and 768Kb upstream AT&T DSL, I have experienced less than stellar magicJack service.  I am not the typical Internet user, however.  There is quite a bit of activity here that at times, slows everything down and it shows, whether I am using magicJack or even our current Vonage service.  The same was true when we were using Packet8 and is true of others I know with those services. More bandwidth solves issues with VoIP.  That’s just the way it is.  There is no service that is more reliable than or even as reliable as the phone service from a major, traditional major phone company, such as AT&T and Verizon.  And their users pay a high premium for this transparent, always there service.  Pick up the phone and it just works.  It is when you try to get your phone service that is piggybacked on top or your Internet service that problems, unusual problems can occur.  Again, it’s a bandwidth issue.

My overseas relative is on her second year with the magicJack I bought for her.  She has, generally, excellent service, and we enjoy chatting for hours with usually very good service as if she was around the corner from me.  Sure, there are times with it is less than perfect.  However, she is not paying a premium price for the service. She renewed for their five-year plan for, as I recall, about $60.  How can this be beat?

I’ve been on calls with several individuals who have told me they are well satisfied with the product and that it has saved them loads of money, month after month.  This cannot be rebutted. Successful magicJack users will save a lot of money over other services.

So, here is the best advice I can give.  If you are sure of sufficient bandwidth, you have nothing to lose by trying magicJack.  Use it, then return it if it fails to meet your needs.  If it works for you, then it will be the least expensive phone service you can buy.  Wouldn’t you be happy to pay so little for your phone service? Regardless of even a positive experience, do not stop your traditional phone service until there has been sufficient success experienced with another method of telephony.

magicJack works with computers running Microsoft XP, Vista and now Windows 7, as well as modern Macs powered by Intel processors.

Now, you can buy magicJack through the company Website as well as through traditional retailers including Radio Shack, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Walgreens, Amazon.com, and Office Depot, among others.

Here is the where my original article began:

The phone company is NOT your friend and they never offer the best rates for calling.  On the other hand, it’s what most of us know, the PHONE COMPANY.  In increasing numbers, consumers are seeking alternatives.  I’ve tried magicJack and I can tell you it works, but it’s not for everyone.

Anyone with broadband and a speedy computer connected to it, wired or wirelessly, can use magicJack and start saving, however, there are certain things that are not immediately apparent, to be discussed shortly.

 

That’s it, all of it, in the photo above.  The USB end plugs into any available USB port on an Intel Mac or recent, speedy Windows PC.  The installer is automatic.  Walking through signup is a breeze.  Provide the usual personal info including location, select from available area codes and then choose from available prefixes, choose a password and that’s about it.  Once the device is registered, and with it plugged in to the computer’s USB port, double-click the shortcut that appears on the desktop, sign in with user name and password and start making calls.

magicJack service includes FREE voicemail, call waiting and CallerID, along with free directory assistance.

magicJack’s voicemail is of even greater convenience because it can be sent to the user’s email account as a wave file.  So, whenever magicJack is not answered because the user’s computer is not on, the user is away or the user is on a call and chooses to let the call go to voicemail, that voicemail file can be available as an email attachment.  This is, of course, at no extra charge.  It’s just extra convenient.

The application launches what is called a “soft phone” that is an on-screen dialing pad and contact list on the computer desktop.  Adjustments to input sound from the computer’s built-in or plugged-in external microphone and output to speakers can be made here.

Users can make calls with nothing more if they want to use the computer alone.  The better recommendation is to connect any standard plug-in phone or cordless phone to the standard RJ11 jack on the other end of magicJack.  The RJ11 jack is the same as what we all have at home where our regular phones are connected, if we still have a conventional phone, that is.   Now, magicJack works just like any other corded or cordless phone with one exception.  It works only so long as the computer to which it is plugged in is on and connected to the Internet over broadband.

The most convenient way I know to set it up for regular use would be to connect a single or multi-handset cordless phone.

This may include wireless or wired connectivity such as in coffee houses and restaurants, hotel lobbies and hotel rooms, college and university common areas and dorms. It might even work using a mobile card plugged into a computer (They’re working on making this a better experience).

Remember, magicJack is a real phone with a real phone number.  So long as the computer is capable and the Internet connection is good and pretty quick, magicJack is a fine choice for phoning on the cheap.

If a call comes in while the computer or the magicJack is not available, the call goes to voicemail, which the user sets up like any other voicemail. There is even email notification of voicemail sent to the user.  Voicemail can be accessed from any phone, anywhere, too, just like other voicemail.  The user would call the magicJack number, enter the code set by that user and hear the voicemail messages.

In addition to the other services, users can log in online and establish a forwarding number for their magicJack.  This can be toggled on and off at will.

It’s not for everybody, however. It’s not for anyone who needs the always-available phone even with the computer off.  It’s not for anyone with a pokey old computer and slow Internet connection.  It IS worth trying, however.  There is a 30-day money back guarantee.

If there is marginal or nonexistent mobile phone coverage in a home or office, or in a dorm room, magicJack can be a wonderful alternative.

I’ve used mine with Macs and Windows PCs with complete success, so long as the basics are met.  I’ve set one up with a local SoCal phone number and then sent it overseas to a relative.  Now, she has that number for anyone from home to call from his or her phone for free. No international long distance is needed, since the magicJack has a US number.  My relative leaves her computer on all the time, so when a call comes in, the connected cordless phone rings and she just answers it and talks all she likes.

If there’s a student or anyone you know about to travel abroad with a computer or where there is a modern and speedy computer to use along with speedy broadband, then magicJack can save the user and family lots of money.

magicJack is also hooked up with 911 emergency services.  Uses must indicate the local address where the phone is located for 911 services to operate properly. Of course, it will not operate out of the country and there are other rules and restrictions surrounding 911 service and magicJack. Read about them here.

I keep harping on the speedy computer and fast Internet line, but my experience has told me that these are necessary for a satisfying outing with the magicJack.

No, you cannot port your existing number over to magicJack, at least not yet, but the company says it is coming in the future.  Use it as an added phone line.  Now that you can see how easy it is and how useful magicJack can be you’ll really like the price – just $40 to buy it, including the first year of service. The next year service will cost only $20, and that is for the FULL year, not a month.  magicJack also has the lowest cost I’ve seen for international long distance.  Users must pre-pay for international calling.

As a way for families to save on phone bills for students away at school in the US, magicJack can also work well.  If the student has magicJack connected to the computer in the dorm, then calls can be made or received at any time to any US or Canada phone number.  Maybe in this way, with cooperation from the student, mom and dad can get a less costly cell phone plan for the student.  It would be easy to set up magicJack connected to a simple and inexpensive cordless phone. Consider this.  In most student housing, there is a monthly charge for a basic phone that offers local and on-campus dialing. That’s it.  All other calls cost extra and may require a more costly monthly plan.  Forget about it and get magicJack for your student to make all the calls he or she wants!

I like magicJack.  It’s got the potential to change the way millions of consumers use the phone and to save them hundreds of dollars each year.  Give it a try and see how you can start saving.  I know of no other “real” phone service that offers as much for as little money as magicJack.

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