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Why magicJack is AWESOME

by Michael

With the continued improvements made in technology it seems the better something becomes, the more expensive it becomes. Rightfully so. I suppose as it takes millions of dollars in research and trials before something is “ready to use” but sometimes, we’re lucky enough to see technology advance us and allow us to save money at the same. Enter, magicJack.

Why magicJack is AWESOME

For the last three years, I’ve been overpaying for my cell phone service. Partly because I never use my cell phone and that $50 a month for 400 minutes of talking is already a tough sell. I had heard of services like Skype, Vonage and magicJack before but was always hesitant to test them out. But the more I had researched magicJack, the more I wanted to give them a go. The initial cost of $40 for the magicJack and a year’s worth of service was certainly a lot less than Skype and Vonage and if it didn’t work, I could always return it within the 30-day free trial period. So I went for it and I’m kicking myself for not going for it sooner.

Setting up magicJack

magicJack USB connector

The magicJack arrives in a Styrofoam cover and the entire package can’t weigh more than half a pound. Included in the package are two pieces of hardware; the magicJack and a USB extension cord of around 6 inches. The directions to install the magicJack are about as simple as you’ll ever find directions to be:

  1. Plug any phone into magicJack
  2. Plug magicJack into any USB port
  3. Pick up your phone and talk for free

An added expense of magicJack, at least for me was the one time purchase of a Panasonic phone because I didn’t not have any handsets available. $40 spent and I was ready to follow the directions.

Plugging in the phone to magicJack, then plugging magicJack into my USB port took all of 10 seconds and the magicJack installation screen appeared immediately.

majicJack interface

I was able to register the product, then select pretty much any unused phone number I wanted in the US. I stuck with my normal area code and had magicJack pick a random number for me because a vanity number would cost me an additional $3 a year. After a couple of minutes spent, I was all ready to give magicJack a test run.

I made a couple of local calls, followed by a couple of long-distance calls and they were all flawless. My current cell phone reception stinks so an added benefit of convenience and price was connectivity and even after a few weeks of having magicJack, I have never had a call dropped or lousy call quality. It’s strange for me to have a dial tone before I dial a number but it’s an easy adjustment. :)

Another great feature of magicJack is the ability to use it internationally. MagicJack allows users to call the US and Canada for free FROM ANY COUNTRY so I could be vacationing in Italy, plug the magicJack into a friends computer out there and call back to the family for free. While I can’t attest to the call quality of international calls, I would imagine everything to be just as good as if I were calling someone down the street.

How magicJack Can Become Even Better

Even though my telephone life has become much simpler with magicJack, there are still a couple of things that could be improved. I may be nitpicking a bit but for true convenience, I make the following two observations:

1. The magicJack interface is something that needs to always be open, so when you receive a phone-call, the screen pops up on your computer. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of writing an email or just typing something in, you can accidentally have the call go straight to voice-mail. A few times already, I have been writing an article only to hear the phone ring. I punched a few keystrokes in after the magicJack screen popped up and the call was missed. It’s frustrating sometimes for this to happen and to my knowledge it cannot be avoided.

2. For magicJack to function, your computer needs to be turned on at all times. If you receive a call while your computer is off, the call with go straight to voice-mail, which I guess isn’t all terrible but I would still prefer a way to have my desktop turned off and still be able to make a phone call.

The Value of magicJack

With the $40 phone purchase and the $40 magicJack purchase, I have spent a total of $80 for my first year of phone service. Had I continued to use my cell phone, that’s a savings of $520 just in the first year. Each additional year will only cost me $19.95, so we’re talking a $580 savings each additional year I choose to keep magicJack. AND, if you really like what magicJack has to offer, you can sign up for five additional years of service at a discounted rate of $69.95 and save even more!

While having a cell phone when you’re on the road can be invaluable if something happens, for a guy like me that works from home, it’s easy to only use magicJack. Even if you want to still use your cell phone, you can reduce the plan to as small as possible, perhaps even adding your line to someone else’s plan for maximum savings. I’m confident that if you try magicJack, you’ll still be using it after your 30-day free trial period and after a few years of amazing service.


Published or updated December 29, 2011.
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 anon

I have been using magicjack since Nov. ’09, thanks to comcast. They couldn’t fix the voip in my house and so after a buddy and I talked about it, I decided to try magicjack. I figured if it sucked I was only out $40. After about a month, my buddy and I were talking about it and I liked it so much that he bought two. One for his house and one for his wifes business. I have the magicjack plugged into a wall jack which powers the whole house, awesome. I have multiple accounts set up on my pc (Win7). I installed the magicjack on the admin account so I never see it and it doesn’t interrupt me. I initially installed it on the account I use regularly and it did become annoying. It’s worth noting that the account you install magicjack on must always be logged into.
Things I don’t like about magicjack is that some of the programs I use, like remote desktop and DVDFab, screw up the service which then requires me to restart the magicjack after I am done using the programs. I eventually moved DVDFab to a laptop and stopped using remote desktop to log onto the workstation. Also, every time magicjack starts up, it puts an icon on your desktop. You may want to get the 30 day trial if you are a power user. It is definitely possible you will run into problems. However, for $20 a year, I was able to overlook the problems I have had.

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2 Michael

Thanks for the posting opportunity Ryan! I hope everyone enjoys magicJack as much as I am.

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3 Craig

Always saw the commercials and didn’t really know what it was about, or thought it was just another crappy infomercial. Sounds like it has some real value, will have to look at it more.

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4 Ryan

It’s a good value if you use a landline and don’t like paying $15-$20 per month. :)

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5 Craig

I don’t have a landline, but something to suggest for those who have.

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6 Ryan

I don’t either, but I’ve thought about getting a VoIP solution like MagicJack so I can save my cell phone minutes, and have a better connection.

7 Beating Broke

My problem with magicjack and the other services like vonage and skype is that I don’t think I could give up the portability of my cell phone. It’s incredibly handy to have when I’m at the store and need to double check an item on the list with my wife. It’s also incredibly handy to have the data plan on the road and be able to access maps and such.

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8 Ryan

BB, I agree. It may not be a solution for everyone to eliminate cell phones, but it might be a great way to save on land lines and traditional long distance. Another great opportunity is long distance calls to the US from other countries – great for military members stationed overseas or people who frequently travel to overseas locations!

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9 nick

can you use a fax machine with it?

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10 Ryan

nick, I’ve read online that it can be done, you just need to tweak some settings with your fax machine, such as setting error correction. Just Google the term “set up fax with MagicJack” and you should be able to find some helpful info. Best of luck!

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11 chaz

you say i can cancel my current phone service? doesnt my puter need to be hooked up to a phone line for MJ to function? if i disconnect my phone service how will it work? id still have to maintain sum kinda service with my phone co…added exp.

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12 Ryan

chaz, it only works to cancel your landline if you have cable internet or DSL without the phone service. If you use dial up service for your internet connection you can still keep the landline, but cancel the long distance plan and make all long distance calls from that number, and just have people call your home phone. The savings would still add up if your long distance plan costs anything more than about $5 per month.

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13 basicmoneytips

This article is timely for me. My wife’s parents live in El Salvador and we have been looking for a better alternative for calling them. We use those calling cards and sometimes skype, but are not pleased with either.

This sounds like the perfect item to help us. We can get one and send to them and walk them through setting up a local number. Then we can call that number.

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14 Ryan

You might need to have them call you – calls *to* the US and Canada are free, but international calls from the US or Canada to other countries are not. But the principle works the same. I recommend looking into it a little deeper to make sure it will work for them. I’ve heard it has actually been banned in several countries – primarily those with state run telephone services (apparently it cuts into their profits!).

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15 Jay

Thanks Michael, I bought one for my sister and she loves it!

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16 Sabrina

I have a friend who swears by Magic Jack and loves it. I’ve always wanted to try it, but don’t you always have to have your computer on??

Can anybody tell me what happens to your phone calls if your computer is not on -are they just lost? Or do they have some sort of voicemail service?

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17 Ryan

They go to voice mail.

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18 Sabrina

thank you Ryan-
just realized that was in the original article… oops!

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19 Sabrina

2 questions for anybody out there:

1. “…select pretty much any unused phone number I wanted in the US.”
I live in Canada and want to use my existing phone number. Anybody know if that is possible?

2. Has anyone noticed if the use of magic jack slows down their computer system or creates lag in certain programs?

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20 Deb

I just recently purchased the magicjack. Could someone tell me, if I have an area code say, 604 and someone calls me on the magicjack number, with the same
area code, would they be charged a long distance call from their phone company?

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21 Lisa

Often my incoming calls go straight to voice mail, not every time but about 75 percent of the time. MJ costumer service has no fix for this, they tried several things that didn’t solve the problem. I checked my USB ports they are not on the energy saving mode. I think I’m have to get regular phone service, because I need to know when people are calling me.

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22 Phyllis Hildebrand

Can someone tell me that if I get the magic jack and I have to get an out of area area code – will the party calling me on the magic jack number be charged a long distance fee?

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23 Anna

It is not a magicJack it is a magicJUNK!

After using a magicJack for2 months it fell apart in two pieces. I used it on my laptop and I hate it. Once in awhile magicJack just doesn’t work. Restarting the software or rebooting may or may not help. Sometimes when you work on a computer and talk to the other party they cannot hear you. As an office device I wouldn’t recommend it.

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24 zata

My husband is going to El Salvador to visit family and we know magicjack works there but if we set it up with a number from here and left it in his home country would it still work as if calling to and from a us landline?????

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