It comes packed in a soft plastic envelope holding a form fitting piece of foam with cut outs for the Magic Jack, a short USB extension (8 inches), a regular phone line (2 meters), and a wall adapter to power the Magic Jack if you don’t wish to power it with your computer.  The box holding the phone had the instructions for activating your new Magic Jack, obtaining a new number, transferring your current Magic Jack number (free), or transferring your current phone number from any service ($20 fee).

 

Introduction

I’ve been a Magic Jack user for almost five years.  I’ve wanted to write a review on this product but I refrained because it was less than imperfect, it took a major commitment to use for a variety of reasons.  If it didn’t provide a unique solution for use in Thailand I would have stopped using it immediately.  Since the original Magic Jack is still being sold I’ll describe it first and then get into the much improved Magic Jack Plus review.

The original Magic Jack was a zippo lighter sized device where you would plug one end into your computers USB port and a regular/normal corded or cordless phone into the other end.  It would self-install the necessary software and you were set.

 

The original Magic Jack was a zippo lighter sized device where you would plug one end into your computers USB port and a regular/normal corded or cordless phone into the other end.  It would self-install the necessary software and you were set.

 

I bought 5 years of service for $69.00 and I think I paid $39.00 for the Magic Jack itself.  The service included a stateside number which I could pick from a list of available numbers in the state/city of my choice, all the long distance within the USA I could use, voicemail, call forwarding, call waiting, and directory assistance all included.  Inexpensive international calling was extra.  A bonus was that you could use it inside Thailand, a family member would dial your USA number and only pay for a USA call, and it would ring on your phone in Thailand.  Wonderful!

The challenges with the original Magic Jack was that you needed a computer, turned on, to use it.  And if your computer was busy doing something, especially if it required bandwidth, it would ‘clip’ your call making calls difficult.  To seriously use the Magic Jack I’d have to wait until my bandwidth in my area was working really well which was usually late at night, fresh boot my system, and not load any other programs.  Under such circumstances it worked at approximately 90% but it certainly wasn’t ready for prime time.  So no review.  It also wasn’t certified to be used with a fax machine and in fact it only worked with a select few models.

 

The challenges with the original Magic Jack was that you needed a computer, turned on, to use it.  And if your computer was busy doing something, especially if it required bandwidth, it would ‘clip’ your call making calls difficult.  To seriously use the Magic Jack I’d have to wait until my bandwidth in my area was working really well which was usually late at night, fresh boot my system, and not load any other programs.  Under such circumstances it worked at approximately 90% but it certainly wasn’t ready for prime time.  So no review.  It also wasn’t certified to be used with a fax machine and in fact it only worked with a select few models.

 

Last month I received a notification from Magic Jack advertising their “Magic Jack Plus” and reading the sales pitch I noticed it no longer required a computer!  All the same great services, one low annual price of $29.99 per year (or five years for $99.99 for a 30% savings), but now it was a true VOIP phone.  And while in the past I worried they’d eventually find a way to stop us from using the Magic Jack in other countries for free USA calls, now they listed it as a feature.  It was also certified to work with fax machines.  Oh, and it also now works with PC’s and Mac’s.  I ordered mine and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

A reader let me know you can get a Canadian number for an extra $10 and I confirmed this on the Magic Jack registration site.  This is sure to be a boon for Canadian citizens.

 

Magic Jack Plus

It comes packed in a soft plastic envelope holding a form fitting piece of foam with cut outs for the Magic Jack, a short USB extension (8 inches), a regular phone line (2 meters), and a wall adapter to power the Magic Jack if you don’t wish to power it with your computer.  The box holding the phone had the instructions for activating your new Magic Jack, obtaining a new number, transferring your current Magic Jack number (free), or transferring your current phone number from any service ($20 fee).

 

It comes packed in a soft plastic envelope holding a form fitting piece of foam with cut outs for the Magic Jack, a short USB extension (8 inches), a regular phone line (2 meters), and a wall adapter to power the Magic Jack if you don’t wish to power it with your computer.  The box holding the phone had the instructions for activating your new Magic Jack, obtaining a new number, transferring your current Magic Jack number (free), or transferring your current phone number from any service ($20 fee).

 

Installation

I wanted to see how fast I could bring this into service.  I plugged the wall adapter into an outlet, the magic jack into the adapter, a phone into the Magic Jack and then ran a LAN cable from my router to the Magic Jack.  Less than two minutes and I had a dial tone!  And as advertised, no computer was necessary.  You can use the Magic Jack without registering for only 48 hours, after that you’ll need to register it to keep using it.  The normal price for the Magic Jack Hardware is $69.95 which includes one year of service.  I was offered this for $34.95 as a current Magic Jack Customer.

 

I wanted to see how fast I could bring this into service.  I plugged the wall adapter into an outlet, the magic jack into the adapter, a phone into the Magic Jack and then ran a LAN cable from my router to the Magic Jack.  Less than two minutes and I had a dial tone!  And as advertised, no computer was necessary.  You can use the Magic Jack without registering for only 48 hours, after that you’ll need to register it to keep using it.  The normal price for the Magic Jack Hardware is $69.95 which includes one year of service.  I was offered this for $34.95 as a current Magic Jack Customer.

 

For a more permanent installation I plugged the AC adapter into an available outlet on my APC UPS device, and then connected the Magic Jack Plus using the short USB extension so it wouldn’t be sticking out from the outlet so far.  I then ran a LAN cable to my router (no router settings needed to be changed of added) and plugged the other end into the Magic Jack Plus, and then plugged my Panasonic DEC Cordless phone into the Magic Jack Plus.

 

For a more permanent installation I plugged the AC adapter into an available outlet on my APC UPS device, and then connected the Magic Jack Plus using the short USB extension so it wouldn’t be sticking out from the outlet so far.  I then ran a LAN cable to my router (no router settings needed to be changed of added) and plugged the other end into the Magic Jack Plus, and then plugged my Panasonic DEC Cordless phone into the Magic Jack Plus.

 

I was set, no computer, and my Magic Jack Plus, plus all my network equipment (modem, router, NAS drivers, gigaswitch) is powered through an APC UPS so in the event of a power outage my phone would still work as long as my UPS battery was charged.  For reference I use server class UPS devices and the internal batteries are large.  They will power my network equipment, Magic Jack Plus, and cordless phone for over 6 hours.

 

I was set, no computer, and my Magic Jack Plus, plus all my network equipment (modem, router, NAS drivers, gigaswitch) is powered through an APC UPS so in the event of a power outage my phone would still work as long as my UPS battery was charged.  For reference I use server class UPS devices and the internal batteries are large.  They will power my network equipment, Magic Jack Plus, and cordless phone for over 6 hours.

 

 

Registration

You have two choices.  You can register via computer in just a few minutes, or through the phone.  If you’re currently a Magic Jack customer and have an established account and their software is already on your computer, then I’d recommend making it easy on yourself and registering through your computer.  It took me 2-3 minutes to register my new Magic Jack Plus and port my existing Magic Jack number over to my new Magic Jack Plus.

To register via your computer you simply plug the Magic Jack Plus into your computers USB port and it will self-install the necessary software and connect you to your Magic Jack account.  Very easy.

I didn’t register by phone but I wanted to see how long it would take, so I dialed their registration number and waited on hold.  It took about 7 minutes to get a representative who told me they could have me registered in 4-5 minutes.

If you’re not currently a Magic Jack Customer I’d recommend you register by phone and NEVER plus the Magic Jack into your computer.  Why?  This is one of the areas I don’t like about the Magic Jack or the Plus version.  The self-installed program is impossible to totally uninstall from your computer.  If you Google the subject you’ll see a lot of unhappy customers.  Magic Jack provides an uninstall program but it’s far from complete.  You can follow instructions yourself if you’re used to editing your registry but because of potential risks/issues involved with editing registries I won’t recommend a procedure, but you can find plenty of them via Google.

OR you can buy the number one Magic Jack Uninstall program  a creative programmer sells for $9.95 and your troubles are over.  I did it both ways.  By modifying my registry I had Magic Jack totally uninstalled in about 7-8 minutes.  With the Uninstall program it did the same thing in about 10 seconds.

 

OR you can buy the number one Magic Jack Uninstall program  a creative programmer sells for $9.95 and your troubles are over.  I did it both ways.  By modifying my registry I had Magic Jack totally uninstalled in about 7-8 minutes.  With the Uninstall program it did the same thing in about 10 seconds.

 

The Magic Jack/Plus software is actually very convenient.  It holds all your contacts making dialing easy, and it keeps a call log of all your incoming and outgoing calls.  It also interfaces your PC’s speakers, microphone, or a PC headset, or a Bluetooth headset so when you’re traveling you won’t need to carry a regular phone around.  I keep this software installed on my travel laptop for this reason.  But I will no longer have this software installed on my main desktop workstation.

 

December 24th  1250  -  An issue has been discovered via a comment by a user that the call logs accessible online at your MJ account are not showing your MJ+ calls UNLESS you’re running the MJ through the computer.  And the softphone familiar from the old MJ pictured below DOES NOT WORK with the MJ+ so no call logs there either.  To me this isn’t satisfactory, it’s a huge discrepancy Magic Jack will need to fix soon.  I’ll follow up on this and update the review as I learn more.

 

The Magic Jack/Plus software is actually very convenient.  It holds all your contacts making dialing easy, and it keeps a call log of all your incoming and outgoing calls.  It also interfaces your PC’s speakers, microphone, or a PC headset, or a Bluetooth headset so when you’re traveling you won’t need to carry a regular phone around.  I keep this software installed on my travel laptop for this reason.  But I will no longer have this software installed on my main desktop workstation.

 

 

Performance

This is where the rubber meets the road.  The Magic Jack Plus has worked great, 100% in every way, since I installed it about ten days ago.  Call quality is first rate, equal to a regular landline, and their services (call forwarding, directory assistance, 911, call waiting, etc, etc) all work as advertised.  I have absolutely no complaints, no matter how hard I look.

 

This is where the rubber meets the road.  The Magic Jack Plus  has worked great, 100% in every way, since I installed it about ten days ago.  Call quality is first rate, equal to a regular landline, and their services (call forwarding, directory assistance, 911, call waiting, etc, etc) all work as advertised.  I have absolutely no complaints, no matter how hard I look.

 

There is one caveat.  You have the choice of setting up your own answering machine to answer on 3 rings and using it, or using the voicemail provided by Magic Jack which answers on 4 rings.  I like the voicemail, it forwards a .wav file of the message to my email address which means my workstation, laptop, and smartphone where I can see I have a message and listen to it there.  However, when someone calls and it rings the 4 times, Magic Jack announces your caller has reached a Magic Jack number and advises them how to leave a message.  Some might be put off advertising they’re using a Magic Jack service.

I have incredible bandwidth here so I wondered how well Magic Jack Plus works at their minimum advertised bandwidth of 128kb.  This would be the equivalent of a dial up internet connection.  To test this I ported the Magic Jack Plus in my router and only allowed it 128kb of bandwidth.  It worked, but the call quality was ‘tinny’.  I incrementally raised the bandwidth and at 512kb the call quality was much better.  A standard 1mb connection should have no issues providing a high quality level of service.

 

I have incredible bandwidth here so I wondered how well Magic Jack Plus works at their minimum advertised bandwidth of 128kb.  This would be the equivalent of a dial up internet connection.  To test this I ported the Magic Jack Plus in my router and only allowed it 128kb of bandwidth.  It worked, but the call quality was ‘tinny’.  I incrementally raised the bandwidth and at 512kb the call quality was much better.  A standard 1mb connection should have no issues providing a high quality level of service.

 

International calls are reasonable.  You can log into your account and ‘buy minutes’ which applies to any country you could wish to call.  Rates are very reasonable.  $10 provided 1000 minutes of calling to Thailand numbers.

Fax machines now work.  I tried two and they worked without a hitch.

Service from within Thailand is equally good though I am going by my past 4-5 years of Magic Jack use.  With a minimum internet connection you’ll get great call quality, though if the connection cuts in/out the call will suffer.  But if you have a reliable connection you will be able to make all the calls you want to the states, and those in the states can call you without international charges and your USA number will ring on your phone in Thailand.

 

Summary

This summary will be short.  The Magic Jack Plus has matured into a full fledged VOIP alternative and it’s very good.  The rates are more than reasonable at 5 years of unlimited service for $99.99.  Computer on or off, it doesn’t matter.  Within days of installing my Magic Jack Plus I forgot I was using a VOIP service.  You pick up the phone and get a dial tone, you dial like a regular land line, and people call like a regular land line.  Call quality is excellent, as good as I can remember ever having.

If you’re an enterprising individual and handy with a screwdriver you can disconnect your homes phone lines from the outside service, connect a Magic Jack Plus to an phone outlet, and now any phone you connect anywhere in the house will work with the Magic Jack line.  I’ve done this and it works great.  We now have normal/regular phones scattered throughout the house where we want them and they all work with Magic Jack Plus as they’d work with a regular land line.  All that was required was to go to my outside phone service box and to disconnect the wires coming from the outside service.

I’ll admit their Home Page looks cheesy and I hate their juvenile videos.  It looks like the should be selling Ginzu knives and vegetable choppers.  I do wish they’d change it to something more mature, but I suspect the American public has been conditioned to respond to this type of marketing.  Sad.

If you’re in Thailand and make regular calls to the states you want a Magic Jack Plus.  If you travel and want to carry a USA number with you, then you want a Magic Jack Plus.  If you live in America and want an inexpensive great phone service then you want Magic Jack Plus.  If you live in America and travel to Thailand and want to carry your USA number with you, then you want Magic Jack Plus.  This is a great alternative to a normal land line and very competitive to the best VOIP services.  You’ll enjoy owning a Magic Jack Plus and if you’re like me, you’ll buy them for family members.  A great product.

 

If you’re in Thailand and make regular calls to the states you want a Magic Jack Plus.  If you travel and want to carry a USA number with you, then you want a Magic Jack Plus.  If you live in America and want an inexpensive great phone service then you want Magic Jack Plus.  If you live in America and travel to Thailand and want to carry your USA number with you, then you want Magic Jack Plus.  This is a great alternative to a normal land line and very competitive to the best VOIP services.  You’ll enjoy owning a Magic Jack Plus and if you’re like me, you’ll buy them for family members.  A great product.