Magic Jack It!

While looking for ways to save money on our utility bills, I decided to give magicJack a try for home telephone service.

magicJack is a USB device that has a USB connector on one end and a phone jack on the other.  The device plugs into your computer’s USB port and then you plug your standard phone into the other end.  The entire device is about 4 inches long and 2 inches wide.

The magicJack provides free local and domestic long distance calling using Voice Over IP technology.  Instead of using the telephone lines to transfer your calls through, you use your internet provider.  magicJack also offers 911 service, caller ID, and has voicemail.  The device costs $39.99 and includes 1 year of service.  Additional years are only $19.95 per year.  There is a complete money back guarantee for the first 30 days.

Does it Work?

I purchased it from Radio Shack, brought it home and had it setup within 10 minutes.  The software self-installs when you plug the device into the USB port.  I chose a local telephone number and skipped through a bunch of screens asking you to buy more features or pay for more years up front.  I did spend $1 to get the 1 year warranty where magicJack will replace my device for any reason whatsoever.  Personally, I think the $1 pitch is just to get your credit card info on file so that they can auto-bill you when your year is up.

I hooked a cordless phone into the magicJack and everything seems to work okay.  There was initial confusion answering calls from my hubby where he couldn’t hear me.  I solved that by clicking answer using the magicJack software on the computer.  My cordless phone sometimes has a little static, but the people on the other end don’t hear it.  When I got too close to the microwave, the static picked up.  Not sure if it’s my crappy phone or the magicJack.    I can call any telephone number in the United States – cell or landline – and anyone can call me.

As far as the cost, I’d say it is a good deal.  Bell South offers local and unlimited nationwide calling for $40/month.  That’s $480 per year.  I only have to pay $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 after that.  That’s extremely competitive if you ask me.

The Catch:

The magicJack sounds too good to be true.  There has to be a catch right?  Yep.

1) You must have High-Speed Internet Access for this to work.
2) Your computer must be ON for this to work.  If your computer is off, all incoming calls will go to voicemail.  You will not be able to make outgoing calls, even for emergencies.
3) 911 is not guaranteed.  e911 will only work if your computer is on and if you have the right address, etc… in the magicJack software.
4) The magicJack desktop console must always be running.  They do have a nice option to minimize it to your system tray so it is not taking up space on your task bar.
5) The magicJack desktop console will always pop up when your place or receive a call.  This hasn’t been a big deal for me.  In fact, when I have the microphone hooked up I can actually answer the call while at my computer using the computer speakers and the microphone.

We are still in our 30 day trial period.  I’ll let you know if we decide to keep it!

Frugal Tip of the Day:  If you purchase your magicJack from a store, you don’t necessarily need to purchase the store’s warranty (ie. Radio Shack or Best Buy’s additional consumer warranty).  When you set up the magicJack you will be asked if you want to purchase a 1 year warranty for $1 that will cover the cost of replacing the device under any circumstance (ie. lightening struck it, the dog ate it, etc…).

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