A few months ago I found a way to get free long-distance calls through the internet. When I first started using it I wrote an initial review (MagicJack review) and after using it for a while I decided to write a follow up review.
The tool I have been using is called the Magicjack and I have now been using it as my primary land-line for the last 5-6 months or so. While it is not perfect, it can be an extremely cost effective solution. In my case I make quite a few long-distance calls each month and I don’t pay a dime for them.
How does it work?
This isn’t a talk through your computer thing like Skype and all the others. I have used Skype and actually kind of like it, but in order to keep it free you have to be talking to another Skype user. That just isn’t always practical.
Rather, you just plug your regular phone into the Magicjack device, which then gets plugged into a USB port on your computer and viola, you are ready to make free calls anywhere in the US or Canada. Once signed up they give you a normal 10 digit phone number that you can receive calls with.
I should also mention that it isn’t 100% free. The device itself costs $20 and service cost $20 per YEAR or $1.66 per MONTH. If you make even a few long-distance calls, you know that this is so ridiculously cheap that you probably think it is too good to be true.
While I am still really excited about using Magicjack, I know that some people may not be able to put up with it’s quirks.
What I love about it
For my situation, I wanted a way to make free long distance calls from my land-line. Some of my calls last a long time and I didn’t want to have to get an extra 500 minutes in my cell phone plan. The Magicjack allows me to do just what I wanted. I can call anyone in the US or Canada as much as I want and never have to pay for it.
What is also cool (which I haven’t tried yet) is that you can make those calls to the US and Canada from anywhere in the world. So, I could be vacationing in Australia and call back to the US for free, just by plugging the device into a computer over there.
What could still be improved
The downside of making calls through the internet is that it seems that there are a lot of links in the chain that can break and cause problems. While I am generally happy with the device, I know that it is only because it meets my specific needs and I am sure that it wouldn’t meet everyone’s needs.
From using it over the last 5 months or so I have probably made hundreds of long-distance calls and I will say that the sound quality is just slightly lower than than the average cell phone. I don’t think the sound quality necessarily affects the conversation, but it isn’t quite as good as Skype.
I also noticed that it isn’t a completely dependable system. While Magicjack has a voicemail system included with it, I stopped using it because it wasn’t notifying me of all my voicemails. I just turned it off and now use the answering machine one on my phone instead.
Because it is software based, the software can and has frozen up on my about 3-4 times. It isn’t a huge deal, I just restart the software and all is well – but an imperfection nonetheless.
My computer is almost always on or in sleep mode, so the device works fine, but if you are one who frequently turns off your computer, you may want to think about that before using this system. You can’t send or receive calls while your computer is off.
Who it doesn’t work for
As much as I wish it did, I don’t think the Magicjack is quite ready to be a land-line replacement. If you have a land-line that you currently use and depend on it heavily for receiving calls, I don’t think I would recommend Magicjack as a replacement. It still might be a good idea to have just to make outgoing calls, but just from some of the issues I had not receiving voicemails, I think there are still some kinks that need to be worked out.
Who it works for
When I was searching for a free way to get calls via the internet the Magicjack was the best thing I found. As mentioned it isn’t perfect, but in my case I estimate I save $40-$50 each month by getting all the long distance calls for free. So I would say if you are looking for a way to cut your long-distance bill, or decrease your cell phone usage, this might be something worth considering.