About a month ago, I decided to take a 30 day trial of Magicjack Plus‘s home phone service to review it compared to my existing Ooma Telos services. As a guy that’s always looking at ways to save more money, I heard that the MagicJack Plus was a comparable VoIP phone service.
In addition, during a recent call with my great aunt (who is 86 years young), I asked her who she was using for her home phone service, and to my amazement she was using MagicJack. I thought, if someone at 86 years old could figure out how to hook up this VoIP provider, then I needed to evaluate this alternative (cheaper) option to my existing phone service. I’m always looking at ways of saving a few extra dollars, and I’m sure other people are debating between Vonage, Ooma, or MagicJack Plus too.
So with that said here are all the pros and cons I found in evaluating the MagicJack Plus, and a lot of this is predicated on my experiences with other VoIP providers.
- Cheap – currently MagicJack Plus is one of the cheapest VoIP phone services on the market at $49.99 (actually $63.49 with all the shipping and processing fees).
- Online registration – it took me about 5-10 minutes to purchase the MagicJack adapter and my jack arrived about 5 business days later with no expedited shipping. Overall, the website was extremely friendly to use, but one note is that they frequently asked me to sign up for longer term services (1-5 years) at “discounted prices”. That was a little annoying. :(
- Initial setup – setting up the unit required me to initially plug the unit into my computer and load a program from the jack to setup the unit. This whole process took about the same amount of time as setting up my Ooma and Vonage’s initial phone service. So this setup is comparable, but requires having a computer and some technical aptitude.
- Portability – with the unit being so small and compact it is easy to move your number to where ever you have Internet and a Ethernet cable off a router or modem.
- iPod/iPhone MagicJack app – another nice option they have is the use of the iTunes MagicJack app. I haven’t downloaded it to test, but is an option you should be aware. From reading some of the App Store reviews though it doesn’t sound that good. :(
- Cheap – the saying of “you get what you pay for” is definitely applicable here! Although the unit is cheap it comes with very few bells and whistles, and is a unit I’d call “the Walmart version of VoIP”.
- Sound quality – both in my testing and receiving calls from my aunt (who i mentioned above) I frequently hear echoes and pixelating voice quality (almost like it’s a robot). Compared to my Ooma unit I have to assume that MagicJack’s VoIP compression is nowhere near Ooma or Vonage. So be aware of the sound quality issues prior to purchasing.
- Support – I really didn’t like the online support at all primarily because it was the only option and no option to call in. Plus I need to make a note of one giant issue I’m sure others will or have experienced. After setting up the unit I was able to receive a dial tone (after a five min initial sync) and I was able to receive calls. However, whenever I tried to dial a landline or cell all I heard was nothing. Like the phone line was dead! I thought maybe their service is for only receiving calls…so I contacted support and received no direction as to what the issue might be. Through lots of digging through my online menus at my.MagicJack.com I found the advanced feature to “allow incoming and outgoing calls”. By default my MagicJack was set to “only allow incoming calls”. I never once remember choosing this option. So be sure to look under my.magicjack.com > “Call Features” tab > “Advanced Features” section if you aren’t able to receive incoming calls initially. Be sure to select, “I elect to accept all incoming and outgoing services.” (see the image to the right for more details) I still don’t understand why tech support couldn’t have directed me to this menu setting? Why is this the default option?
- No wireless capabilities – the original MagicJack required you to have the jack connected to your computer. With the MagicJack plus they made it no longer dependent on your computer being on which was nice! However, it would have been nice if this unit could have come with wireless connectivity, which the Ooma device does offer. To make your MagicJack wireless then here is a short tutorial on how to convert your MagicJack plus to a wireless unit!
- No uplink port – compared to the Ooma telos the MagicJack plus can’t be placed in front of your router (between your modem & router particularly). This is a great feature of the Ooma device, because this way I can ensure my phone service gets first priority. This is extremely important when you are asking your ISP to service many applications (streaming HD TV, online games, etc) that should have lower priority. Besides having an advanced router config, then the MagicJack doesn’t offer this capability.
Overall, I’d probably rate the unit as a C+ mainly because of how cheap the unit is compared to other VoIPs and that it does provided basic phone service. If you can live with all the cons then the MagicJack plus might be a good option for you.
What other VoIP phone services have you heard are comparable to Ooma, Vonage, or MagicJack plus? Let me know and I’ll look into evaluating them! Also have any of our readers used the MagicJack? What was your experience like?