I’ve been using MagicJack VOIP phone for, let’s see, two months now. This is a little device—available at Best Buy, Target, online, etc—which plugs into a USB port of a computer. MJ has a regular phone jack on the other end into which a standard phone or fax plugs into. It is possible to make calls using either a computer headset or a regular phone. If using a headset, dialing is done by the computer. This thing contains all the software onboard and installs automatically whenever it is plugged in.
MJ is not foolproof but it keeps working reasonably well. Caller ID works on ingoing and outbound calls and the voicemail system is flawless. Voicemails are sent as a sound clip (.wav) to email and works regardless of whether MJ is plugged in or not. It is also possible to record a custom greeting. The first time the device is plugged in, it goes through a wizard where it gets a phone number. For some reason it didn’t have any Flagstaff numbers, so I got a Sedona one instead. MJ calls out and accepts incoming calls to my number. Call quality is very good. I can send touch-tones using my standard cordless phone…most of the time. Sometimes I need to bring up the MJ window on the computer and click the numbers with the mouse to send tones. Also, sometimes the cordless phone is dead until I refresh the MJ window on the computer. Most of the time it works. MJ does not survive hibernation on my computer, though. I need to unplug and plug the device before it activates the phone again. There’s probably a fix for this but I can live with a few glitches.
The device costs $40 and includes one year of unlimited US phone service. Additional service can be purchased for $20 a year or $70 for 5 years. I was spending $10 a month for Skype VOIP which only included outgoing call capability. MJ is nice because it allows me to use a cordless phone instead of a computer headset, and it includes my own phone number that people can call and voicemail. Another feature of MJ is that I can take the device with me when traveling and plug it into my laptop and use it to take and make calls wherever I have internet service. I’ve never tried it outside the country but I’m quite sure it would work.
The MJ interface has a few ads in the sidebars, but does not hog resources or act like a nuisance on the computer. The application requires two drive letters to operate and minimizes to the taskbar, only popping out when there is a call. No problems there. Nothing is installed to the computer; the application runs entirely from the device. I am happy with MJ so far.