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March 31, 2008

MagicJack — Ultra-cheap ($20/year), ultra-simple Internet phone calls from your laptop


That's right: $20/year — not month — for unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada from anywhere in the world.

David Greenberg reviewed it quite favorably in yesterday's Washington Post Travel section, as follows.


    What: A phone jack for your computer that lets you plug in a standard phone and make low-cost calls.

    Aimed at: Travelers with laptops who want to make cheap calls from the road.

    How much? $20 for the jack, plus $20 a year for service.

    But does it work? Between pricey penalties for exceeding mobile phone minutes to absurd hotel telephone charges, calling from the road costs too much. Travelers with laptops and broadband can make Internet calls, but those pay-per-minute rates add up.

    MagicJack changes the game with a flat-rate price so low it looks like a misprint: $20 per year — not per month, per year — for unlimited calls to the United States and Canada from anywhere in the world.

    Getting started costs $40, which includes the first year of service and a small device that plugs into a USB port. The device has a telephone jack that lets you use a standard phone, including cordless ones (you also can opt to use a headphone).

    Setup is simple. You don't need to insert a CD; just plug the small device into the USB port and the software loads automatically. We were making calls less than five minutes after plugging in the device. Voice quality was indistinguishable from a wired phone line.

    We tested magicJack with a variety of Internet broadband connections and PCs. The quality did not suffer, and the device did not slow down other programs, even on an older, slower PC.

    The phone service comes with a free local phone number, voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, three-way calling and free (commercial-supported) directory assistance. International calls are extra, though competitively priced: Calls to France, for example, are 2 cents a minute (18 cents a minute for French mobile phones).

    MagicJack compares favorably to Skype, which recently added flat-rate pricing to its per-minute pricing ($36 a year for unlimited calling to phones in the United States and Canada). Skype charges extra for such things as an incoming phone number and devices that let you plug in standard phones.

    Cons: Although the device is about as small as a pack of gum, it's thick enough to block a second USB port on some laptops. And unlike more expensive Internet phones, magicJack cannot make calls while your PC is off. However, it can still take voice mail.

    MagicJack is available for Windows XP, Vista and Intel-based Macs from www.magicjack.com.


Here's another take.

Consider that if the iPod touch had a USB port you could plug this puppy in and have an iPhone on the cheap sans contract.

I'll bet I'm not the only one who had this thought....

March 31, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink


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The only information they would have from you would be your name, address, and telephone number. thats better than the local phone service you would have from say sprint or att. They post your information in a book and hand it out to the public. so im confussed about why your address is that important to you. people like you guys find any way to make a good thing sound bad. Think about it...

Posted by: Austin | Aug 25, 2008 10:03:31 PM

LOL...No Kidden Sherlocks!

Who doesn't "play" with your personal info on todays web or outside it?

You pay the big bucks and think you have "peace of mind", I'll save way enough to help pay for my oil and gas.

Oh, by the way....Do you guys really read ALL the contract stuff reguarding software...I hope not because you wouldn't own a computer.

Ring, ring....excuse me, I'm saving the "folding green"....

Posted by: Joe Peach | Apr 6, 2008 6:26:08 PM

I'll bet it's a front for AT&T testing out the details of their new EULA.

"AT&T Your world delivered" to the NSA.

Posted by: Ray | Apr 1, 2008 7:25:48 PM

I knew the whole thing sounded fishy. Now I know why.

Posted by: Rocketboy | Apr 1, 2008 5:09:57 PM

Caution: Make sure you read the Terms of Service which include:

"You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and Software will include advertisements and that these advertisements are necessary for the magicJack device to work ... Our computers may analyze the phone numbers you call in order to improve the relevance of the ads"


"Any claims, legal proceeding or litigation arising in connection with the magicJack device or Software will be resolved by binding arbitration ... in Palm Beach, Florida."

Also, while they don't say how long or how much of your personal information they will keep; they "will transfer personal information if magicJack is acquired by or merged with another company ... [and they] reserve the right to include your personal information, collected as an asset, in any such transaction" according to their Privacy Policy.

Posted by: ... | Apr 1, 2008 3:38:15 PM

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