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.
Checkout Matthew's review of Ting Mobile and how it is saving his family money every month
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?
I have been meaning to get a MagicJack and give it a try because of its low cost. I know there is going to be sound quality issues such as hearing echoes and dropped calls but the under $25.00 a year for service just keeps calling my name. I think that I will give it a try.
I have been using MagicJack for over 5 years, and have had none of the problems you had Charlie. Zero! Also, I don’t need to prioritize my phone; I have never had an issue with calls while using my computer, and my PC is always on when I am home. I’ve looked at Ooma, and I just couldn’t justify the hardware cost. Oh, and my experience with tech support has always been excellent; I have no problem with them being online only. I’d like to win the Ooma you have up for grabs to try it out. But not buying one, and not only because I renewed last year with MagicJack for 5 years at reduced cost. Why do you find this so distasteful?
@Andy and Bry – I think I might make a review soon of Google Voice +. Like Bry said it’s suprising more people don’t use that.
@Warren – I was just extremely turned off by the lack of technical support on not being able to receive a call. Did you have this same issue?
I have been using Magic Jack Plus for close to a year and find the sound quality more than adequate, without any echoes or anything else to detract from the sound quality. I understand that a good voice quality requires a dependable internet connection which I seem to have.
My setup consists of a ‘four wireless phones system’, of which the main unit has a built-in answering machine. The main unit is plugged directly into the router and works flawlessly, the message going into answering machine when no one answers. When some one calls while we are on the phone is the only time it bypasses the machine and goes into my Email, where I can play it back later. Overall I am pleased with the unit and would give it a solid “B” rating. I understand that a WiFi model is in the works but have no idea when it will come out.
I like Google Voice alot. The sound quality is superb and best if all, it’s free! While the service is very good, i would only recommend it for people who don’t mind being on their computer with an attached headset/microphone to make phone calls. Google Voice does have a bit of lag time between when your talking to someone and when they respond, but it hardly detracts from the conversation. You will need a google account to use the service. You will only be able to make outgoing calls initially but if you register your existing phone number or create one specifically for your google voice account, you can accept incoming calls as well, which are then forwarded to your landline/cell phone. I really like google voice. It’s probably the most underated service google offers and the best aside from Gmail
Would really love to hear your review of Google Voice + and ObiHai device.
Ben – I’ve heard of Net Talk Duo. How is the sound quality? Overall, would you recommend Net Talk Duo? Thanks for the comment! I used to be with Qwest too, and I was charge $25/month for just a land line with no long distance!
I have been using Net Talk Duo for about 2 years. The only downside is you have to dial 1 then the area code + number even for local calls. They charge $24.95 for a years worth of service, which is what I was charged for 1 month of service by Qwest.