When Hurricane Ike struck here on Galveston Island we lost our phone service. By the time we moved back in we got used to using our cell phones and restoring our landlines had a low priority. for a while we put our phone service on “vacation hold” but eventually we just realized that the hookup fees and the extra monthlies didn’t worth it and we let it go.
I did miss having a landline, talking on a real phone for long calls is more comfortable, and although we have lots of spare minutes, unexepected events can add up to extensive cell phone time. So we decided to give Magic jack a try. At $69 for the first year it seems to be worth a shot.
I ordered it on line and a few days later our new Magic Jack plus arrived. It contained the Magic Jack Plus dongle a small 110 volt to USB power unit, a short usb extender and an ethernet cable. Equality picked up a cordless 3 phone set to go with it.
The Magic Jack needs to be connected to a computer to configure and attach a phone number to it. The Device works with Windows and Mac machines it is not Linux compatable. Once it is all configured it can be connected directly to a router directly won”t need a computer anymore.
Once the Magic Jack Plus is plugged into the computer the program is automagically installed and started. The user is guided to selecting a phone number or to transfer their existing number. The menus selections have some upsell options, but is pretty easy to navigate anf only takes 10 or 15 minutes. After the Magic Jack + is configured the user has the option of leaving it plugged into the computer, or to connect it up to the network.
The good news is that the Magic Jack Plus works and it is pretty cheap. The sound quality is excellent exceeding that of cell phones. It delivers on what I expected and wanted. Unlike the old Magic Jack a computer doesn’t have to be up and running. As I type this Vonage is and Comcast are advertising their basic services at around $20 to $30 dollars a month about what the yearly rate is for Magic Jack Plus.
Magic Jack isn’t without some issues. If you use it to replace a regular phone line You have more points of failure. If you lose cable or power or a router failure you lose your phone. One might consider putting A phone Modems, Router and Magic Jack on a UPS. These are low power devices
Their built in service includes an service which will pick up the phone after 4 rings. The answering service announces it is a Magic Jack service. If you wish to use your own answering machine you have to set it to pick up on the 3rd ring. This doesn’t give much time to answer the phone. It would be nice if we could have the choice of disabling automatic answering altogether.
It came as no surprise to find that their support is lousy. It is only available via Web Chat. and that it is pretty lousy. The web and forums are full of complaints about their service support. I had attempted to reclaim my old home phone line. We had abandoned the number 2 years ago, but it still isn’t in use. The installation accepted my old number, and it reported the number as my ID when I dialed into my cell. I couldn’t call into my phone. I didn’t know what the problem was and and called support via the chat. They had me reconfigure reboot and moved me up to whats called a 10% level support and she ran me they ran me through the same procedures. Finally she gave up, and told me they would refer me to engineering and they would get back to me. I was on chat for about an hour.
After the unsuccessful chats I checked my email before I prepared to leave for the day. I found an email with a time stamp of 6:02am that I received just as I was beginning the support chat telling me that my phone number transfer was unsuccessful. I went back and picked out another phone number and everything worked properly. It seems to me that the support people should have been able to find this out.
Magic Jack plus delivers a good quality phone line, Once it is up and running there should be little need for any support. Set up and configuration is straightforward, but a user might be in trouble if they are need in need of customer support. There are some preresiquites to get the Magic Jack working.
- A Windows or Apple Computer
- A good Highspeed Internet connection. To use the system without a computer you will probably need a router with an available ethernet connection. One can connect through a computer that has a highspeed internet connection, but if the computer goes down there is no phone. Using the computer to make the connection might be a good option for those who have only WiFi service in their homes.
- A phone. A regular plain old corded phone should work. but the Magic Jack might not be able to power more than one or 2 non powered phones. A regular corded phone requires power to ring the phone.
People who live or spend time out of the country might find this particularly usefull. One can set it up using a stateside phone number and call abe called without dealing with international rates or calling plans. The unit is very small and can be used with regular headset and mike available anywhere. I am happy with mine because I can use a regular phone and line. I can send or receive a fax if I want to. Its probably never going to be a real minutes saver on my phone because I get free minutes on my cell service if talking to others on the same plan. So I if I call one of the phones in my family with this its going to count toward my minutes.
The bottom line is this thing works and is cheap.