I ordered a MagicJack after my niece recommended it. Hers is registered as a US phone number local to family to allow her to make calls with no long distance charges while connected via a broadband connection in Korea. And her cost was approximately $40 initially for her MagicJack and a year of long distance service.
Before I bought mine I did a little homework checking reviews on line. I consider myself a fairly knowledgeable user. I wanted to get a clear idea of what issues might be real versus those that were simply non-technical users or impatient users.
One key element everyone must understand, you can’t make phone calls unless your device is plugged into a PC operating on a broadband ISP.
I ordered mine on a Friday and it was delivered by Tuesday. The device itself is incredibly simple. It’s like an oversized memory stick about double the standard size. The top side has a clear top so you can see the printed circuit board and a blue power led. The sides are silver chrome colored. The back is a simple sticker pointing to the USB plug and the phone jack. Included was a usb extension for those with small access areas to the port.
The device came packaged in foam about the size of a large greeting card sandwiched between heavy gauge paper and fits in standard mail boxes. It was well packaged and unlikely to suffer in shipment.
The instructions are straight forward. Plug it in and wait for it to install. I have a laptop with Windows Vista Home Premium.
That’s what I did. I plugged it in. I followed the instructions, plugged it in and let it go. I closed all my other windows so I could see any prompts that pop up. Magicjack caused Vista to prompt for installs and I watched the graphics. I followed the prompts and everything installed easily.
Now that the install is done, you go through some interactive screens and are assigned a phone number.
This is supposed to be followed up by a registration prompt for your Userid and password. In my case, the prompt never came. I went to the web site and discovered Vista requires and update. And then there is an upgrade required to be installed.
I was still unable to receive the registration prompt. The Java interface seemed to be bogged by server problems along with the registration servers. I went through the FAQ’s, and nothing addressed the prompts I received. FAQ’s are incredibly sparse.
So, I tried clicking on the prompts to reach someone live. Those clicks were an infinite loop. It didn’t go to any interactive interface, irc chat or anything. I tried with both IE and Firefox with the same result. Is this a design flaw? I think so. I would have expected an error screen or something to indicate a broken flow or something. There is no contact number to call directly for support. I did find a contact e-mail buried in internet forums. Dan@magicjack.com is reportedly the inventor and is available for issues, but that’s it. The forums all show a lack of quality customer support.
Being the patient type, I unplugged and retried several times. I used the menu prompt under advanced users where there is a restart function. Eventually, I was able to click on the center of the MagicJack console and the registration prompt appeared correctly.
I had difficulty registering but it was my own fault because I messed up my password. Fortunately the site has a method for sending your e-mail address your password. However, I found no method on the site for changing the password. It may exist through adding the same e-mail address a second time and deleting the original entry. I’ve had to use the same password I initially set. Not a comforting thought if you’re security conscious.
Once that was done, I made a few calls to my existing lines to see how it worked. One of the MagicJack software console options allows you to use a pc microphone and speakers instead of an analog phone plugged into the MagicJack device.
For those that don’t leave their PC’s on at all times, their calls can be forwarded to another line like a mobile phone. I can picture using this from any free wifi location using a headset and microphone.
Call forwarding and voicemail with forwarding to e-mail work well. There is an option for an “Outlook Add-in” that should allow for a software prompt to dial directly from your Outlook contacts entries. One unusual item is there is no shutdown or exit function. I’ve been simply plugging mine in and out several times while the PC is on and it doesn’t seem to suffer detrimental effects. Granted, I’ve only been using mine for a single day. Feature set and use-ability are good.
The next point of testing for me: would it work through my corporate VPN? MagicJack was unable to register to the proxy server. No luck for me.
Pros – Simplicity and cost.
Cons – Live customer support missing/flawed, password change function.
Overall Review: Bang for the buck it’s a good buy. Compared to standard land line costs the annual savings is a minimum of $600 not counting long distance charges and the lack of features like voice mail. Compared to other VOIP solutions the savings are around $300 with similar feature sets. I can see this used by any number of users considering how inexpensive it is. Just be patient if you need help.
Follow Up: I e-mailed Dan@magicjack.com regarding the password change problems. I like to have control of my Passwords. After e-mailing back and forth with informing him I’ve tried all his suggestions the final response was ”
What is the new password you want and we will see if we can add it manually from this side.
magicJack Tech Support Manager”.
Truly substandard and unimpressive.