However, some people still need to have a separate home phone number, such as for home business or just want to keep their number. The great landline alternative is VoIP or Voice over IP that use internet connection to place and receive phone calls. Some of the well known services is Comcast, which is pretty expensive in my opinion. More affordable is Vonage but not as cheap as I would like. Then there is the MagicJack that is less than $30 bucks for the year - that I can work with.
I first heard of MagicJack a long time ago and was considering it but was discouraged by their unprofessional website and lack of information that I was looking for. Additionally their original device required a PC to be always running, which I’m not sure that would be convenient. But with the recent release of the updated device (MagicJack Plus) that doesn’t require a PC, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised - everything worked like a charm.
The MagicJack Plus is a small device, roughly the size of two fingers, that plugs into any stationary telephone via regular telephone cable and a wired network via Cat5 cable to be used as a standalone device, or to an USB port on the computer. I like the part that it can be plugged in directly to the router and not rely on the dedicated computer to be always on. And the cool feature that it can work from anywhere in the world to place free international calls, which I’ll explain in more detail below.
After using it for few months, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. Here are my observations:
- The MagicJack Plus is $69.99, but it includes 1 year service. After that it’s very cheap service - $29.95 a year. With my old service I paid more per month.
- The MagicJack Plus does not require computer and it’s very portable.
- Existing phone number can be ported to MagicJack service
- Place free local and long distance calls to any number in U.S. or Canada, no matter where in the world the device is used. This gave me a great idea for free international calls to my relatives in Poland. I bought another device, activated it with a local number to my area and sent it to my sister. Now we can call each other without limits for free. How awesome is that!
- It can be connected into house telephone wires and used with multiple phones, but with the condition that the wiring is disconnected from the old service line. This can be done from the telephone company box outside of the house. If you still have dial tone on the line then it won’t work with MagicJack.
- MagicJack smartphone app can be used with any active account to make and receive calls without the physical device. Great if you are away from home and don’t want to miss any important call. Ideal for home business.
All the features are managed via online account from http://my.magicjack.com
- The device needs fast internet connection to function properly
- Depending on the router, may need to configure the device to use static IP (default is dynamic). But when I plugged it in, it worked within seconds even before activation, and I didn’t have to make any changes in the router configuration since then.
- Activation needs to be done by plugging the device into USB on the computer and it may be somewhat confusing for a novice. But for most part I found it to be straightforward. There are some parts that they will try to suggest upgrading the service or pay for extra features. Make sure you read every step carefully.