A couple months ago I wrote about the Magic Jack I bought and promised a full review. We’ve been using the Magic Jack as our only home phone for just over 2 months and it’s been great. Magic Jack just works. The only draw back is your computer has to be on in order to make and receive calls. I have a little Mac Mini sitting on my desk always on and handles the Magic Jack among other things.
Once you plug in your Magic Jack, the Magic Jack app launches and self updates. You login with your Magic Jack account and your 911 address shows up within the app. If you take your Magic Jack out and about you can add a new 911 address right from the app. Once added whichever address you’re at can be selected from a drop down within the app which is pretty neat and less hassle than other VOIP providers. The software itself is pretty decent no complaints there. One of the nicest features is your call logs and contacts are uploaded to Magic Jack’s servers. When you unplug the Magic Jack and put on a different computer all your information is right there once you log in.
The contact’s list is very basic but gets the job done. I’d like to see it integrate with the system or email client’s address book in the future but that’s doubtful as it’s cross platform. A way to import contacts would be ultra helpful though.
Magic Jack’s feature set is pretty standard fare:
- Caller ID
- Call Waiting
- Call Forwarding
- Soft phone – The ability to use your computer’s speakers and microphone as the phone when the Magic Jack is connected.
Everything works as expected. Voicemail is a little strange though in that it emails me a wav file of the voice mail after it’s recorded. Magic Jack then deletes the voicemail after emailing me the file though so you cannot call in and listen to it. Not a great idea for shared (household) phones. To workaround this I’ve set our answering machine to pick up after 3 rings thus avoiding voicemail pickup. Call forwarding is great a couple of times I’ve forwarded calls to my cell when we were all out and about and it worked as expected.
I don’t recommend the Magic Jack as a home phone replacement unless you have other phones available (like a cell phone) in your house. The only reason is emergencies. You don’t want to need the police or an ambulance and not be able to call 911 because your computer crashed or internet/electricity is out. My sister and I both have a cell phone in the event of an emergency I would probably pick up that first anyhow.
I highly recommend the Magic Jack as a second line for a teenager or business. It’s also helpful if your cell phone has capped voice minutes. You can use the Magic Jack whenever you’re home or near an internet connection with your laptop. Magic Jack + Google Voice = Win all around
I’d like to see more portability out of Magic Jack in the future. You shouldn’t have to plug in the Magic Jack to use the soft phone features. Portable (iOS and Android) apps would be nice to use it while on the go. Basically I’d like it to be more Skype-like minus the instant messaging and video.
The only issue I have with MJ is that if I switch user accounts on my Mac the Magic Jack disconnects and is unable to make or receive calls. I think it’s more of an OS X thing then Magic Jack. For this reason I have a separate non-administrator account just for the Magic Jack. A couple of times I’ve switched to work on my user account and forgot all about it which lead to some missed calls. No big deal but something to think about if you only have 1 computer and multiple people using it.
When I first decided to go with Magic Jack my local Wal-Mart didn’t have them in stock so I ordered from the MJ website. With the jack, first year of service, and shipping it was just shy of $50. Not a bad deal at all. I was out doing some Christmas shopping last week and seen a whole display of Magic Jacks at Walmart for $40. You just cannot beat that price for a while year’s phone service and it’s only $20 a year thereafter. For Christmas, I’m thinking about picking up one for a friend who never seems to be able to pay their phone bill yet always maintains an internet connection. I will more than likely replace my business line (currently with Skype @ $60/yr) with a Magic Jack. I rarely use it but need to maintain a separate business line.
All in all two thumbs up from me for Magic Jack!