Bob Rankin: Is Magic Jack phone service for real?


By Bob Rankin

What is Magic Jack?

MagicJack is a device that enables phone calls over the Internet. The Magic Jack voip phone service competes with Vonage, Skype, NetTalk and other VOIP (voice over internet) telephone service providers. Magic Jack has been around for more than four years as of this writing. During that time, the Magic Jack product has evolved.

The original MagicJack is a matchbox-sized device that plugs into any USB port on your Internet-enabled computer. A standard RJ-11 phone jack on the MagicJack device accepts the cord of any landline telephone. The device contains all the software and electronics necessary to let you make and receive unlimited calls for just $19.95 per year. Just plug, plug, and talk.

Magic Jack is so simple and so cheap that some people thought it was a scam when it first appeared. But MagicJack has proved to be quite real. A few years ago, after hearing a couple of my friends swear by the gadget, I did some research and found that Magic Jack really does deliver what it promises. With Magic Jack, your get own number with unlimited local and long distance (USA and Canada). You pay just $19.95 per year, and you never get a phone bill. You can even cancel your land line service.

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This excerpt is shared with permission from Bob Rankin.


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25 thoughts on “Bob Rankin: Is Magic Jack phone service for real?”

  1. The ONLY complaint I have with the MagicJack Plus, if you connect it as it suggest with out computer, you no longer have use of the on screen display, the program used with standard magicjack. I liked the on screen caller ID and ability to Name my contacts. The Plus is just as it is if i used a regular phone company. Still has caller ID, only if the phone using has caller ID. But the Plus also freed up my computer, I run bare minimum requirements for Windows XP, the standard would bog down the pc when the phone rang, and could barely use the phone, the Plus now runs directly into the wireless router, and no longer bogs down. One other then I seen using the Plus (I will need to modify a my in home phone wireing, but this does work) Install your Magicjack Plus as directed, but instead of pluging the phone into it, run a phone cord out of the device into your regular wall phone jack, now plug your phone into ANY wall jack through out the house. This worked for me on 2 phone calls, before I recieved busy signals, then had to reset my MJ Plus. I think if I completely disconect the wire incoming to the outside box from the phone company, I should’nt have any problems, and then could use the phone from anywhere in the house, being my computer/modem/router is in the master bedroom..I have’nt do so yet, (Lazy) but will soon..hope this idea helps 😉

    1. @PosX:

      You don’t have to “…modify ‘the’ in home phone wireing…,” especially if you have any of the inexspensive/affordable wireless phone kits (easily found at most major retail stores, well under $100US); they usually include the Base Unit (with digital answering machine built in, but not needed, since Majic Jack already gives you an immensely more powerful voice mail system that will send all answered incoming calls to your email) with three satellite phones. Most all of newer packs operate at a much better/higher bandwidth of 5.8GHz, with a range that lets you walk across the street and visit a neighbor with any of the units! All you do is plug the MJ into the base unit and voilla!, you have phone service to as many sattelite extension as the Base Unit can support. I’ve been using MJ that way for quite some time.

      If you are using broadband, it’s usually provided over the phone line, so don’t just disconnect your lines, unless you know which pair keep connected. If you have high speed internet access via monopoly cable service, that’s one thing. Otherwise, if you have broadband or U-verse (aka AT&T, another huge monopoly that was allowed back into the telephone business, after being broken up once before in the mid to late sixties…someone in the FCC, or Congress, must have received a little something to forget about that.), the incoming phone line still requires your inside copper wiring! You won’t find optical phone lines in your home, unless you’ve had it preinstalled in a newly built home, or payed for it to be run seperately, directly to your modem/router/gateway et al. The phone service can be easily stopped by telling your phone company and you’ll probably be charged slightly more for internet service (go figure…money grubbing companies).

      So you can have your phone service stopped (the provider may not allow it depending on where you are, though) and still get 911 Emergency service. But keep in mind, wireless providers and Magic Jack state that you should have a backup plan for 911 service, if you do. If your internet service goes down for any reason, you will have no access by phone to the outside world. One other thing to keep in mind… Nobody can prevent what will happen sooner, rather than later. And that’s the likely hood of that something nocks out the satellite network. Thank the heavens for continued hard wired cabling across the ocean bottoms to Europe and the far east. The earth is, for one thing, in the process of reverse polorization (e.g., North to South and vise versa) that also will cause the an increased radiation from the Sun reaching the Earth), a process that occurs each fifty million years; a point we reached sometime in the recent past years. Or, space debris, you know, the millions of pieces of garbage that the world’s space programs have left behind over the last century through today. It is comprised of large and small pieces, leftover satellites and other junk. Whatever form it takes, there will be a complete failure of the wireless networks that everyone is getting suckered into. And when it happens, you’ll have satellite services for years. Just something to think about, although the majority of regular people in this world won’t, nor will any Republican politicians (look how they still refuse to believe that global warming is real). One day within the next 10-20 years this will happen and bite everyone in the behind big-time! Just some last words to leave everyone with…

      Take care and do use your sunblock! 😉

  2. I have a broadband connection and pay $39.99 a month. I do a lot of downloading and love having an always on internet connection. I use Panda Antivirus software and Ccleaner. Ccleaner is free and rids my system of a lot of junk. I frequently scan my system with Panda which eliminates potential problems. So, my expense is $39.99 plus the cost of MagicJack. I repair and build my own computers and keep at least two on hand.

  3. My early problems usually had to do my version of Windows, I now use Windows 7 HP 64bit. One problem had to do with my audio system setup. I could call but get no audio until I accidentally discovered that the audio was off. I also have a cheap prepaid cell phone to use when I can’t use MagicJack.
    You don’t need a devise for each computer in your house unless more than one person wants to use the MagicJack at the same time.It may not be possible for more than one person to access the internet at the same time(?). I use a broadband connection with no cable stations and no telephone service with the cable company. The telephone company is not getting my money, only cable and MagicJack.

  4. I use MagicJack and wouldn’t be without it. There have been some problems in the past but those have been resolved. Their rates have just gone up and it will cost as much as the MagicJackPlus. I renewed for five years at a redused rate. The MagicJack device can be transfered from one computer to another with no problem. If you choose to go with the Plus version You are purchasing another device and getting a different phone number and will cost the same as the old MagicJack device, in other words, with the increase cost of service of the old device the cost of both become the same.

    1. @Frances: Should’nt have to change your number, unless opted to do so. I have used the magicjack for the past 3 or 4 years, with the same number, and bought the magicjack plus in November, I still use the same phone number as I did with the regular magicjack

  5. We have had the MJ for 2 years and love it. At first, I tried it side by side with our ATT phone, then I dumped ATT.

    MJ works great. The only thing is that you have to replug it sometimes, I think it may be due to updates that come thru the computer. No biggie.


  6. So I can rid of my phone line from AT&T? But my Internet access comes through that phone line. Isn’t Magic Jack useless without Internet? Ok, I have 56k dial-up and I am the object of derision for it. My friends can save big using Magic Jack instead of paying for phone service which actually is where most of them get their High Speed Internet, the phone company! And they all seem to pay well over $125.00 a month. None of them downloads anything and they don’t know how anyway they just stay online 24 hours a day. Of course they must have firewalls and blockers and MSN they are told so High Speed becomes a 56k equivalent. I pay $9.99 a month for my ISP and have been for ten years.
    PCPitStop tech talk is kind of lame.

    1. @Bob:
      A computer isn’t required, but you must have Network/Internet access. The set up would be something like: You must have the bare minimum of HS Internet/Network Access (i.e, 6MBs/sec is the slowest you should get; your’re still in the DSL range that can be handled by dual pair copper lines, but with a High Speed of 12MBs+/sec, you’re usually into optical networking which is capable of supplying speeds well beyond youre needs and pocket book!) your results are best and VOIP works smoothly. You do NOT need a phone provider at all, just MJ, which now has full 911 support in most areas of the country…same as with normal telephone serve providers; the phone company will disconnect your phone service, but they then tack on a number of dollars to your Internet bill since they can and you need to keep the Internet link. But, where AT&T (and a score of other providers) does so, so do most others. Then you need a gateway/router to enable your MJ connection, along with a “lease” charge @ about $6-$7/mo) – you can search and find somewhere that sells the unit that works for your u-Verse, if you have that too; no more buying the SAME device that they charge you for for years (as do the other providers that sell you their TV service)…

      . You then have everything connected properly by the Internet installers (i.e. U-Verse, et al) and are read to use MJ without a computer. Plug the MJ unit into the electric line converter, then plug this assembly into a wall jack, then plug the LAN cable and PHONE line into the marked female jacks on the MJ unit (e.g., one is “INTERNET” and the other is “PHONE.” LAN cable connectors will not plug into PHONE connectors…to large) Plug the remaining loose end of the telephone cord into the gateway/router as marked, and the other end of the LAN cable into any of the 4 LAN plugs that are inline, separated from any other plugs

  7. In my house we have high speed internet and 4 computers. 2 of them are on wireless internet and 2 connected directly to the modem. Would I need to have 3 seperate magic jacks (one on each computer – Only 3 computers) and would it require 3 seperate phone numbers? I understand I’d probably have to pay the yearly fee x 3. (One for each MJ). Thanks

  8. I purchased majic jack and the voice was fine, but it just about killed my computor. It slowed down so much that I quit using MJ and there is no refund.

  9. reson alot of company’s (like cummins ) do not use e-mail or internet instead of the fax is security just plain and simple. More companys would love to do away with fax machines if they were not worried about hackes. The solution to that problem is simple we track down the ID THEIFES and SHOOT THEM . They know what they were doing when they hacked in and took the persons ID. They planned on causing that person harm maybe not physically but what about mental???Leaving them to rebuild their lives.That is premediatated murder no matter how you slice it.So we hunt these people down an execute them would not take long to make it ID THEFT to drop considerable.

  10. I am in the Military and many, many soldiers use the Majicjac. It is a great invention. Soldiers and their families love it…
    Stuttgart, Germany

    1. Yes, that is what i use, will have to adjust your ring settings tho to use your personal answering machine, but what i like, It has free voice mail, you can check from your phone and or Email.

  11. In my 2nd year. When it works, which is most of the time, it’s great. But, sometimes it goes south for no apparent reason and needs to be restarted. I also have a cell phone for that reason.

  12. Had for three years now. Love it. Have DSL with a “dry line” so just pay for the DSL for my high-speed internet. Only drawback is the unreliability of fax. Their lit warns of this right off. I have an electronic fax number for that now. Renewed for 5 years. Love the idea of the Magic Jack Plus which doesn’t require my computer to be on. Will be getting one this year.

  13. I have wanted to use magic jack…alas, I am in the middle of nowhere, using satellite..and if a cloud goes by, the phone/satellite is down too! But, hey, we love fun! haha!

  14. I had lots of problems with it when I first got it two years ago. Now it’s reliable except it won’t connect to the rural areas most of my relatives live in. If you make calls to underpopulated rural areas it likely won’t work for you.

  15. 3rd year of Magic Jack here too. I use it as my personal phone and on the road with my netbook I use as a modem. All you need is some power for the phone and an internet connection.

  16. I bought magic jack several years ago and had nothing but trouble with it and finally gave up on it. I think it was the continual microsoft updates that caused the problem. When it was working, it was fine but most of the time I could not receive a call on it. I tried to correct the situation by calling the company and went through several wipe-outs and re-do’s but to no avail.

    1. I also had nothing but problems. Their customer service stinks as far as I am concerned. They refused to refund my money, and I had paid for the five year plan. They only guarantee their product for thirty days – after that, tough luck, I told them that I would give them free advertising every chance I got. I don’t think this is the kind they were hoping for.

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