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Archive for January, 2013

Back in 2009, I posted about my extremely positive experience in purchasing and using the MagicJack, when I decided to let go of more traditional land line options. About two years ago, I updated to the MagicJack Plus, once I heard it was out and no longer required being attached to a computer. It was the easiest thing to install and get working, and at the same low cost of the MagicJack. The unit itself is about $20 more expensive than the MagicJack but the annual phone service fee is still as low (around $20/year). The price of the MagicJack Plus, which includes first year service is around $70. Because I still have people asking me about it from time to time, I figured I’d do an update. I refer people to my blog posts for info on how to get started. So here’s the update.

The MagicJack Plus (MJ Plus) plugs into your router or modem, with no need to anchor it to a computer. That means you also don’t have to leave a computer on for it to work. Here’s what I wrote in my last post about the cons of the original unit – the MagicJack. The updates about the MJ Plus are written in bold after each item.

What are the downsides? There are several, so this is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

  1. You have to have high speed Internet and at least Windows XP. Still true with MJ Plus
  2. Your computer has to be on to pick up incoming calls. Otherwise, incoming calls go directly to voicemail. Not true with MJ Plus, since the unit plugs into your modem.
  3. The MJ software opens upon starting your computer. And a 3″ x 4″ window pops up everytime there is an incoming or outgoing phone call. There is no way to turn off the software. A small annoyance for me. Not true with MJ Plus. Nothing plugs into your computer and there is no software installed on your computer.
  4. The MJ phone service does not guarantee integration with local 911 emergency services. You’ll want to read the fine print carefully and see if that’s an issue for you. This may still be true. Best to dial 911 once, to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you can always return the unit to the store if you are not comfortable with that. I do get 911 services with it.
  5. This next one came via Ben S, who commented to this post. Alarm devices (home health care alert, burglar/fire alarm) that want to dial a central monitoring station will not be reliably able to dial out when there’s an emergency … particularly if you shut off your computer when you are away on vacation. Likely still true.
  6. There is no easy way to uninstall the software. “The process required to uninstall the software requires multiple Windows Registry edits and the removal of several folders on the Windows system.” (http://uninstallmagicjack.com/). No longer an issue with MJ Plus, since again, there is no software installed on your computer.
  7. I’m presuming MJ has a lean tech support crew, based on reviews. [Update 6-9-09: Have never needed to use them; everything has worked perfectly since installation.]. Still true, but I’m here to report four years later, than I have NEVER needed support from MJ.
  8. You have to get a new phone number with MJ. But you get to choose your area code and prefix, from a few choices, and MJ.com selects the last four digits. I received the most easily memorizable number that I’ve ever had. This is still true if you purchase MJ Plus without ever having had the MJ original unit. My MJ number switched over to the new MJ Plus unit, but I did lose my year’s subscription to MJ, and had to repurchase a year under MJ Plus. As I understand it, the licensing of it (your cost for using it) goes to a different developer, with a different pricing structure. Still even with the loss of maybe a half-year’s MJ annual license, I have captured a huge savings over other land line or other VoIP options.
  9. It runs through the Internet, which means you lose phone service if your Internet service is down or you have an electrical power outage. That’s what the cell phone is for…backup! Still true with MJ Plus.
  10. If you use only a laptop at home, the MJ and phone have to follow you around with your laptop, unless you get a dedicated computer for the MJ that lives in a permanent location in your home. You then have to think through how to add phones (see next bullet). I presently have a desktop in my office area, so that’s not an issue. If/when I replace it with a laptop, I’ll just keep it for the MJ connection. This is a non-issue with MJ Plus, since it’s connected to your modem, not your computer.
  11. You have to think through how to add extra phones, if you want more than one. I wanted to maintain the same distribution of phones that I had – one in every room. I came upon an excellent solution on how to keep all my existing phones using my existing wall jacks. I give credit to an Office Depot clerk who gave me the skinny on how to do this. I am leaving instructions at the very end of this post, if you’re interested. Still true for MJ Plus, but my solution in my original post is still effective for MJ Plus.

After 4 years, I’m still a very satisfied customer. And I should add, no one on the other end of the phone has indicated any quality issues. Go MagicJack Plus!

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