Magic Jack


* update at bottom – 2/2012

Have you seen the commercial for this product?  If not, you will.  Well, I have one.  We have had one for a while, and want to tell you about it.  First off, see that pic above.  It really does work that easy.  You simply plug it into your computer’s usb and the phone in the other end.  It uses VOIP.  VOIP stands for ‘Voice over internet protocol’.  Trust me, you need this in your vocabulary. All telecom in the future will go through VOIP.  It’s like using email instead of regular mail.  Way faster, and way cheaper.

The good people at Magic Jack absolutely do pass those savings on to you.  Phone service costs only $20 a year.  That is less than you are paying a month for your landline.  You aren’t still paying for a landline, are you?  That is like using Blockbuster instead of Netflix.  Assuming you are using cordless phones, your landline is useless in a blackout.

So, those are the cool points about Magic Jack.  Here is the not cool point, which is super critical.  We learned this gem the hard way.  When you are not using your computer (like, when you are at work or asleep), your computer also sleeps.  It has to, because of power consumption.  Also, those fans and chips and all that need to cool down.

When your computer is asleep (or off), your Magic Jack isn’t working.  So, for those couple hours a night you might be on the ‘internet‘… your phone works.   yay.  The rest of the time, it does not.  Boo.  So, at $20 a year… you get about what you pay for.

So, you should be thinking this right now:  I can hook it up to my router, my wireless internet.  My comcast high speed is ‘always on’, right?  Yes, your internet is.  However, you can’t hook up the MagicJack to a USB router.  Not sure why, but that doesn’t work.  Probably has to be tied to a specific and static IP (like your home computer).   Anyhow, your home network won’t save you on this.

Also, there is this.  It has a constant always on ‘splash screen’ pop up on the screen that you can’t minimize.  Think of it this way, if you were looking at goat porn… you wouldn’t even be able to see the tail.  Now, that isn’t what I look at.  However, it is pretty clear that is what you look at.  I can track your searches and how you got here, perv!

Also, and you really need to know this.   The 911 portion is jacked up.  Because you are tied to a computer server and not an address… calling 911 does not alert the authorities as to where you are.  Apparently, there is a way to set it up, but I haven’t figured it out yet.   I am a decently tech savvy guy.   Point being, if I can’t figure it out… you certainly won’t be able to.

* update 2/2012 > Magic Jack is now advertising that you don’t need a computer.  That is weird.  I can only assume it can run off a router, becuase you still need internet.  Frankly, that is just marketing jive.  I mean… why would you pay $60 a month for internet if you didn’t have a computer?  It certainly wouldn’t be for a subsidized landline – those only cost about $25 a month after fees.  Also, they can port your landline or cell number in.  That is very cool, and wasn’t available when they launched it.  

in closing, when I tried the product, it wasn’t worth the trouble, and was not very flexible.  However, it appears they have accepted my feedback and made a pretty great product.  I wonder if my old unit can do all this new crap.


4 thoughts on “Magic Jack

  1. I was interested in this very thing of Power Consumption. So I have done my own testing and research. MJ does use the processor all the time so your computer will have to be running 24/7, and for some larger computers that will consume power. So I looked for an alternative option, and build a small computer with either a VIA or Intel Atom CPU. I chose the VIA C& because I found a used Mother board on eBay for just $25

    Again I purchased the VIA C7 Motherboard for $25 on eBay and put together a little computer that will run the MJ 24/7. This little computer cost me all of about $50 total using some old used parts setting around, HD, and power supply.

    The computer draws a total of 28 watts even while MJ is on line and I am talking on the phone. And is drawing about 40% of the little cpu’s power during a conversation. Only uses about 23% CPU while idle. And remember this is a little VIA C7 1Ghz processor designed for small applications not a power machine at all.

    I estimate cost to keep the little computer on 24/7 will cost me monthly about $3 a month. And since MJ only costs me $1.67 a month. Total cost is less than $5 a month for unlimited calls and long distance. Not bad at all..

    I have also heard of users on Ebay selling Thin Client terminals that are hacked to run the MJ software and they draw only about 12 watts and no hard drive, completely solid state. Be prepared to pay about $90 for one of these used . Advantage is that you only plug it in and you are ready to go.

    Goto eBay and search MagicJack Thin Client, you will see what I mean. Also consider building a computer with an Intel Atom Motherboard as an even better option. The computer by the way can double as a nice Network Attached Server to hold all your Music and Videos. Phil

  2. actually, the Magic Jack was very very specific about not using it through a wireless hub. If they made it compatible with that, it would solve most of my beefs with the product.

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