MagicJack Doesn't Cast a VOIP Spell

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2007-12-03 Print this article Print

Review: magicJack, a small USB dongle device that makes it possible to plug any phone into a computer and make calls over the Internet, provides some interesting capabilities but these are outweighed by its shortcomings.

Cheap and easy phone calls sent over the Internet. That has long been the promise of VOIP services, especially on the consumer side. For some this has meant ditching their traditional telephone company and replacing it with VOIP services such as Vonage or the Ooma system that I recently reviewed. These services can provide solid phone service and considerable cost savings in the home but haven't been that portable for users who want to use VOIP anywhere.

Software-based services like Skype and the Gizmo Project provide great portability, letting users make cheap or free calls wherever a computer and a fast Internet connection exists, but they rely on software and headphones and microphones instead of using traditional phone handsets.

Hoping to fill the void between these two types of VOIP offerings is the MagicJack, a small USB dongle device that makes it possible to plug any phone into a computer and make calls over the Internet. The MagicJack device costs $39.95, which includes a phone number and a year of service (which includes unlimited calls in North America). Additional years of service can be purchased for $19.95.

When I first received the MagicJack I was intrigued by it. Even at $39.95 for a year it is still cheaper than most competing options. And if one is traveling internationally, calls made back to the United States are still free. Combined with the small USB form factor, the MagicJack seemed like a perfect solution for road warriors who may not want to rely solely on their cell phone for long trips.

Click here to read the full review MagicJack Fails to Cast a VOIP Spell

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr Rapoza's current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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