MagicJack review – long-distance for $20/year

Reviewing the Magicjack

I normally do not watch info-mercials. But, when I was a vacation a few weeks ago, one particular product caught my eye. It was a Magicjack. The announcer said that you just plug this little device into your computer, connect your phone to the device and could make calls like usual. Users could call anywhere in the U.S. and Canada for as much as they like. The kicker was that there was no monthly fee. Only $40 $20 per YEAR.

mjSo when I heard all this I was pretty skeptical, it just sounded a bit too good to be true. From what I knew about Skype and Vonage, this sounded like a similar program but was a fraction of the cost. I did a bit of research about the Magicjack and read what a few others wrote about it and decided it was worth a shot. Even if it was a scam, I would only be losing $40.

After getting my Magicjack a couple days later, I plugged it in. Followed the simple on-screen installation instructions and was ready to make a call in about 5 minutes. The Magicjack comes with the software built in so there is no need for a CD installation.

Testing out MagicJack

Once you start the Magicjack a little pop-up window appears like the one below…

magicjack pop up

It includes a contact list and shows the last calls made and received. You can dial from the pop-up or from the phone directly.

The first call

A little bit like a giddy little kid, I called my wife and asked her how it sounded. On my end it was great and it seemed to be fine on her end as well. In using it a few times over that first week I occasionally (2-3x) noticed a weird popping noise, but after the last software update I haven’t heard it anymore. I have now been using it for over a month and have not had a dropped call or any other difficulties using it. As far as sound quality, I think it sounds better than my cell phone (which is why I was interested in one in the first place).

Magicjack review

What I love about the Magicjack

  • Free (only $40 per year) and unlimited long distance anywhere in the U.S. and Canada
  • You can switch it in and out of different computers
  • You can take it with you overseas and call back to the U.S.
  • It comes with free voicemail
  • You can get email notifications of new voicemails

What could be improved

  • You need to have your computer turned on and the program running – This probably can’t be improved on, but it is something to keep in mind if you decide to get one.
  • I would like to see a spot on the pop-up window that notifies you if you have a new voicemail.

My recommendation

I am very impressed with how well the Magicjack has worked. I know there are a lot of people who have done away with their landlines and don’t mind using their cell phones (buy cell phones online) as their only phone. But for others still using a landline or who have switched to Skype or Vonage, the Magicjack is definitely worth investigating further.

I would love to hear thoughts from other Magicjack users out there!

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  1. Dave

    MagicJack is really $40.00 to buy and with one year subscription. The next year it is only $19.99. Each year it is $19.99. Thanks though for your response on the magicjack.I’m also thinking about getting one. I now pay $10.00 a month from AT&T for unlimited long distance.(business line)Dave.

  2. bob

    you are right, thanks for clarifying that.

  3. Tim

    So will you get a voicemail if someone calls and your computer is off? Sounds like a pretty good deal…I am looking into it.

  4. Wendy

    So how do you talk or hear the person on the other line? Do you just get a microphone and headset?

  5. bob

    Yep, whenever my computer is off, the call goes straight to voicemail.

    I should have explained that better. No, it is your normal phone, you just plug it into the magicjack box (seen above) and the magicjack box connects to the computer via USB. Then you just pick up the phone and dial like normal.

  6. rocco

    I have one and it doesnt work that great. I can hear the person i call but they only hear me sometimes, goes in and out.

  7. Tina

    I bought the Magic Jack a few months ago but it did not work for me. I tried it on 3 different laptops, I could place a call but the person on the other end could not hear me. I contacted Magic Jack IT but they were not able to fix it for me. So I ended up returning it, sounds like it works great for some but not everyone.


  8. bob

    @Rocco and Tina
    thanks for sharing – I have only been using mine on my Mac, I need to try it out on my PC laptop and see if it still works as well… Were you guys using it on PCs or Macs?

  9. Tina

    Hi Bob, I was using my on a PC

  10. rocco

    use mine on two 3 different pcs and still not much luck

  11. Melissa Smith

    I was wondering if anyone knew if you have to have your phone line turned on at all for this to work? Or could your phone service be turned off completly? Does your phone need to be on by example: At&T for the Majic Jack to work or not?
    I’m a bit confussed, Melissa from GA

  12. bob

    you don’t need a phone line turned on at all… All you need is a computer hooked up to the internet and a phone (handset)… You then plug your normal phone into the magicjack and plug the magicjack into a USB port on your computer…

    And just to add a bit more, I have now been using it for a few months and still really like it… I haven’t really had any problems either, unlike some of the commenters above. I am using it on a MAC, I don’t know if that makes much difference. But I have no intentions of giving it up for a landline again anytime soon…

  13. Lance

    Does anyone know if you can port a number over to MagicJack?

  14. BUBBA121212

    It’s nice to see some common sense users of this product for a change. The only issue with this device is IGNORANCE. After reading hundreds of I love it and I hate it posts, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

    1: Never buy ANY free 30day trial on ANYTHING!!! Get MJ from QVC, Circuit City etc… Then you have a hassle free return. ALL 30 DAY FREE TRIAL AND GIVE US YOU’RE CREDIT CARD NUMBER Company’s will set on your money and give you the runaround, duh. Your and every other sucker’s money is letting them make interest off it. They ALL will bite you in the azz with the fine print. DON’T DO IT!

    2: For the people that think that thing that comes out after you press the button on the front of the computer is an automated cup holder, you’re too stupid to use this product. Hell, they probably have trouble operating a light switch and flushing the toilet. If you are a 1 on the (1 – 10) Tech Savvy Scale, save us the drudge of reading your negative post and don’t even think about getting this product. It’s way, way, way over your head. Go play with the light switch or something. MJ is a startup company running on a shoestring. It’s $40 dollars! It’s $40 dollars! It’s $40 dollars! It’s $40 dollars! It’s $40 dollars! What do you expect them to do, send a tech to your house? Come on people get real. If you can’t make it work then return it to Circuit City or QVC etc… Oh, you did the 30day free trial thing? DUH… you deserve the hassle. Just don’t bore us with your post.

    3: Paranoid people get up in the morning; check the weather etc… on Internet. Hello! Your ISP tracked what you did and the Weather web cookie and all the other cookies did they’re thing. Picked up your Cell phone and made a call, Hello! Your phone service tracked and logged your call, they also knew you were home because of the built in tracking system. Got in your car and stopped at intersection, got your picture taken by traffic cam. Somebody knows where you were at the time of day. Stopped to get gas, restaurant, shopping swiped your credit card, God only knows how many people got this information on what you bought. Went to work and your employer tracked every keystroke, oh and don’t forget to smile for the candid camera. I looked your name up in the White pages and Goggled Earth your address, WOW! You got a really nice house dude. Maybe I’ll pay you a visit and spy on you. You think MJ gives a rip about the above information? They just want to know local information so they can push you the latest add special from the local pizza place. Unless you live in a cave, get a life because this is your life, you’re just too stupid to recognize it and all the bitching in the world is not going to change it. Install this on an old Pc, stick in the closet, plug in a wireless phone and forget about it. Now it’s out of site and out of mind. Just like all the above listed things you ignore every day.

    4: This DOSE NOT and SHOULD NOT replace you’re your phone system. Analyze what it can and cannot do for you. If it makes business sense then get it. If not, DON’T slam this product because it doesn’t meet your needs. This device saves me and millions of people like me lots of money.

    5: Read 1 – 4.

  15. nonq

    bubba you are a rude moron

  16. Eddie

    I have had a magic jack for two years now. it has about 80 % of the effective service of a land line, and ! find it’s quality to be above that of a cell phone.
    1. On MOST calls this device is crystal Clear. On some calls you may get a echo when you are speaking. You get your OWN number that can travel anywhere on earth that your computer can go and be internet connected. If the person you are calling has a magic jack on their end you can call from ANYWHERE ON EARTH, using the magic jack you have, and the calls are FREE.
    2, While it has directory assistance for free, dont throw away your phone books just yet. Most of the time I used directory assistance for magic jack, it came out he wrong number.
    3. Upgrades come very easy…Talking to a live person good luck !!!
    4. If you make a lot of Telephone calls it will save you a small mint. (BEST FEATURE).
    5.Computer must be on…
    This device can be very cost effective.19 dollars A year, vs 25 dollars & up a month for land lind.
    No Conference call s etc can be intiated from this device.

  17. don shelton

    I have used this device a few times. People with whom I am speaking tell me there is an echo of my voice. Somewhat irritating, I am sure.
    I am using a PC Laptop with Vista.

  18. kathy

    So am I right in thinking that if I have a laptop and am out and about I can take my phone and laptop with me and can make outgoing calls and receive incoming calls even if I’m not at home??? If so, I must admit that is pretty neat. Now one person mentions above that if someone else has one of these devices they can be anywhere in the world and contact someone else with the same device. Yet it states US and Canada calls only. So are you telling me that if I send one of the MJ to my sister in Australia and I have one then we can speak with each other for no extra charge, just the regular annual fee?????

    • bob

      I haven’t taken the device out of the country, but according to what Magicjack says you can take it anywhere in the world and call back to the US and Canada for free. Now there are other places in the world you can call, but somehow they charge you a per minute fee… I have only made US calls so I am not sure how that works. And to answer your original question – Yes.

  19. kathy

    oh, one more thing, can I keep my other broadband service and use MJ at the same time???? I’m thinking I may want to try it out first before actually cancelling, right now I’m with brighthouse.

  20. kathy

    Sorry, still another question….if it does work as a traveling phone via plugging into my laptop what about service range…..will it work in the middle of nowhere’s land so to speak as long as I can receive internet connection????

  21. Betty Nelms

    We are retired on fixed income.Our son gave us a magic jack for Christmas.he set us up with a phone service different from what we were on and we had nothing but problems.dropped calls ,noisey background. no service at all at diferent times ,so we were very unhappy.I called Mediacom told them I wanted to switch my internet service back with them .I am happy to report Magicjack works fine , it is a blessing for us and our internet service plus our phone bill now cost us $12.95 for a year.what a savings !!!!

  22. Jeff

    Hi, how would you pay for the yearly fee of $20? thanks!

    I mean, would it be directly charged (yearly) when you used your credit card to purchase the product or would they send you bills for you to renew the contract yearly? thanks! 🙂

  23. meg

    Okay, I am an idiot, so what kind of “service provider” is being used for these calls? Are the calls paid for by my current high speed internet provider? If so, again, I admit limited to NO knowledge on how this type of phone call compares to digital? Any feedback would be appreciated and thank you in advance for your patience!!!


  24. jennifer

    hi im currently useing verizon for my phone and u say all u need s internet well with out a phone company u cant get internet correct?so how is the magic jack gonna work..and i cannot afford my verizon bills anymore but dont wanna go without internet so i meanif i call verizon and have services shut off then my internet is shut off..automatically so what good would magic jack be for me .as anyone had the same proble or question cause im not gonna invest oney into soething that isnt gonna do me no good

  25. Vicki

    Bubba, you just wasted everyone’s time with your stupid rant, yet you complain that people leave stupid comments? Look in the mirror, pal!

  26. Joan Boll

    Magic Jack is a joke. I purchased it when it first came out over 2 years ago. Worked great for about a year, then towards the end of 2010, there were numbers that it would not call. For example my daughters in PA. I am in NV. This was the one reason I bought MJ. The bad points are even though they are selling a phone service you can’t call them…duh? You can only “chat” them. That doesn’t work because these people are talking to several customers at one time and get everything messed up. They “upgraded” their product last year just when I started to have trouble. I have chatted and chatted and chatted some more. Over 15 hours and pages and pages of our calls that I printed out.

    I asked them for a new MJ and they said they would have to charge me $10.95 shipping and handling…???? It was their upgrading that messed up my phone. It also cuts off at odd times and at the beginning of each call it blanks out for about 4 seconds and you can’t hear what the person is saying. I got the “replacement” MJ and it didn’t work either. So I called my Visa card and disputed the $10.95. They took it off my bill immediately and I returned the MJ, which they said I couldn’t do.

    For over 5 months now they have been telling me that their “engineers” will work on my system and I will be getting an e-mail as to how to fix it. Two days ago I finally got the e-mail that stated I could cancel my system (that I paid $96 for 5 years) and they would give me a $20 rebate. Oh and if I do that they won’t let me get it again!

    So I am going to call my Visa card and put in another dispute for the entire $95 and get a regular phone. It is just too much hassle. It would be simpler if everyone just downloaded Skype then we could call each other for free and see each other. Magic Jack is a rip off because there is really no one out there that you can converse with…just “chat”, well me for one, I am tired of chatting. I’d like my phone to work.

  27. Joan Boll

    I am sorry, I meant to say that I paid $96 for 5 years service and that was about 2 yeas ago. Another thing is that all the people I call say there is a beeping, like someone is recording the calls. I can’t hear it. BEWARE…There are also phone numbers that ring busy, and they aren’t. I discovered this when trying to call a company and then called on my cell and it rang, and they said no one was on the phone before I called on the MJ. Do what you want but I need something that is reliable all the time and a product that does what they say it will…like if it is a phone it should be able to call other phones..don’t ya think?

    Anyone have any ideas on phones that work all of the time, not a “can ya hear me now” deal….LOLOL I would love to hear from you. I just need cheap or free long distance, period.

  28. Michael

    My father and I recently purchased the Magic Jack plus (around $70) and it connects to the modem! You no longer have to have a computer on 24/7 to use it. Seventy dollars for initial purchase and then either $30 or $40 every year after and the call quality is about 10x better in my opinion. Check it out.

  29. Jason

    Bob, I do indeed like the idea of using a “Magic Jack” on my computer instead of having a landline. I know you can’t compare paying $20 per year instead of the average $580 per year. If a person was travelling I could see that this would be a valuable way to save. However there are a few questions I have about it. Can it be used as a locater for emergency services? I hear a lot of people using their cell phones as their main phone, and I know that cell phones can only direct your location to a four block square area. If this device cannot direct the emergency response directly to your address, then why not just use a cell phone? It is a great Idea, but I don’t think that it can do more than my cell phone. And I enjoy knowing that if I dial 911 from my landline the response teams have all my information right away. I enjoyed your article, thanks for the information

    • Bob

      Jason, I am not sure – I know you can dial 911, but I am not sure about the locator services. I would check their website for more on that…

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