Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Magic But It Works

It may not be “magic” since you do need to use the phone ”jack.” Nevertheless for some the “magicJack” could be something that can save you money on your monthly phone service and long distance calling. Perhaps you have seen the advertisements about this product which has been around for about three years. It is a small device that plugs into your home computer and allows you to make virtually free phone calls to and from anywhere in the US and Canada.

magicJack is one of several products that use VOIP technology. (Voice Over Internet Protocol) The first year will cost you about $40 and each year thereafter about $20. So it can be a great deal. There are a few things that you need to understand however.

First of all the low cost is somewhat overstated since you do need to have high speed Internet access in your home. So to really compare your savings over a traditional telephone line from Cincinnati Bell you need to factor in the monthly charge you are paying for Road Runner or Cincinnati Bell’s DSL service.

Another potential downside, especially in our area that has way more than our share of power outages, is that if you loose power, your phone will not work. In the dark ages before mobile phones, this could have been a real issue. Now, since many of us have one or more cell phones, losing the landline is much less of an issue.

While they promise that you will be able to use your current telephone number with magicJack service, it is still not possible so you will get an new 10 digit number. Anyone calling you will need to use this new number; some friends may be confused as it looks like a long distance number even though they are next door. I don’t see this as a big issue since we seem to be getting used to the fact that the area code, once an indicator of your geographic location, is no longer a telltale place marker with the proliferation of mobile phones.

Like many VOIP services, you will need to register your address and phone number with the 911 service. This is very important and the user’s guide will take you through this process.

The package comes with free directory assistance, free call waiting and free voice mail. While I have not installed the software myself, others indicate that it was mostly painless. You can plug in multiple phones as well as the base station for your cordless phones.

One major downside I see is that you must have your computer on 24/7. This seems to fly in the face of our need to conserve energy.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home