The Bottom Line:
The magic jack has certain deficiencies and the software can be annoying, but for the cost of $20 / year,
we feel you can't go wrong. You may not want to use this as your primary phone line, as it is not recommended for
emergency use and it does require your computer to always be on. However, as a second line, we feel its well worth at least
the 30-day trial.
Reviewed by: Mordy GildenReviewed on: 6/1/2009 1:54:51 PM
What It Claims To Do: This small USB device claims that it can replace your land line phone for less. It does this by routing all your calls through your computer. Similar technologies already exist, but cost far more.What We Found: The Magic Jack has some great features, but we found some shortcomings that you won't see in he infomercial or on the product website.Unlike other Voice Over IP technologies, the Magic Jack does not come with a standard ATA box. The Magic Jack is a small device that fits right into your computer's USB port - that's it. It relies on your computer's software. Because of this, the Magic Jack is very portable - plug it into any PC or laptop for an instant phone line. The Magic Jack will automatically install itself. It even allows you to use your computer's speaker and microphone. However, the downside is that your computer has to be on for the Magic Jack to work. It also means that if you have an old or slow computer, your phone calls may be slow or choppy and the voice quality can be pretty bad.The software can also get pretty annoying. Whenever you make a call or your phone rings, a window pops up on your computer. If someone is using the computer at the time, they may find it frustrating. To make it worse, this window includes a huge advertising area. Though currently we've only seen Magic Jack advertising, we expect there to be some paid advertising there in the future. We would not like that.One feature that we liked: your call logs and address book are automatically added to the Magic Jack device, allowing you to take it with you wherever you go. It's also pretty amusing that when when you place someone on hold, they hear elevator music.We found some service kinks that we think will have to be worked out in future releases. For example, the Magic Jack does not tell you if the line you are trying to reach is busy or if there is a connectivity problem. You just get a dial tone. Also, you'll need to dial the area code for every number you call. Caller ID does not work on some models of Uniden phones and voicemail picks up after 3 rings and there is no way to change that.It also must be noted that there is no customer support phone number. All customer support is done via online chat. How ironic. No phone support for a phone company? It is good to note that when we did contact customer service, the online tech support was responsive and knowledgeable.The Magic Jack is rapidly improving its service. For example, they recently started serving new area codes and offering service for Macs.They plan to add the ability to port your previous number and support Linux Operating Systems. Magic Jack should not be used for emergency phone calls.The Bottom Line: While big VOIP companies such as Vonage and Broadvoice offer more features and more reliable service, the price of the MagicJack is too good to ignore. If you can get over some of the smaller service kinks, we think you'll have a great value for the price you've paid. When using the Magic Jack on a modern desktop the sound quality is the same or better than a mobile phone, although not as good as a land line.
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