Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 24, 2012
You know, I just live here, and often I have no idea what’s going on; at least I feel that way. So when my wife came home saying she had a business idea and wanted to use Magic Jack as her business line, I had no idea what she was talking about.
I had to get up to speed so I did some research on it, right around the same time she came home with the thing; talk about timing. What I learned is that it’s what they call a VoIP, or voice over IP, which basically means you’re talking through your computer; why don’t they just say that? lol
At this point I’m betting most of you have heard of this thing, so we’ll dispense with the rest of the nonsense and get right into it. Basically what you do is hook it into your computer via USB and it’ll turn itself on. It will then walk you through a few steps to get you connected and to download the software so that it will work. Once that’s done it’s ready to go.
Of course, we didn’t know that at the time. It has two jacks on it so that you can connect the phone to it or connect your computer to it via ethernet. That made us think that it needed to be connected to the phone in some fashion so we went through all sorts of gesticulations and processes before, by accident, learning it didn’t need any of that stuff at all. As long as you have a free USB you’re good to go. Also, it comes with a short USB cord that you’re probably going to want to use because of the width of the object itself; it will block your other USB port without using the cord.
The thing is, without the phone we weren’t sure how you were supposed to talk on it. I hadn’t thought about pulling the headset from my computer to test it, and instead just called our home number, which you can dial either by using the number pad on your keyboard or clicking on the numbers on the phone pad on your screen with your mouse. It rang the home phone, my wife picked it up and said hello, and I heard her voice coming through the speakers. I said something and she heard my voice on the phone. That freaked us out until we realized that it must have automatically connected voice through her webcam, since she doesn’t have a microphone.
I had her go into the bedroom and close the door so we could test the vocal quality, and it was perfect. Then I had her hold while I went to my computer and pulled the headset. As soon as it connected with her computer a menu came up giving me the option of switching to the headset, which I did, and the sound switched that way and our conversation was still really clear.
One last thing, which is kind of a backup. Before you can make a call, you have to select a phone number. My wife tried some specific numbers that she thought might be memorable but Magic Jack didn’t have any of those available. Then I suggested that she just pick our area code and select from whatever comes up, and in doing that a bunch of numbers came up and she picked one she liked and thought would be easy to remember; I’ve already forgotten it. Since she only wants to use it for voice mail and to call people from it instead of our other numbers (like we don’t have enough phone numbers already) the only concern she had was having a number that looked like it was local. From what I hear if you live in a smaller area you might not be able to get a local area code.
It really was an easy process, and supposedly it will only cost her around $10 a year to renew it. She gets the first year free because she paid $80 for the “plus” version; I can’t tell you what the non-plus version contains. No matter which version you get, you will see advertising on it, but it’s pretty easy to ignore.
For now, unless it cracks up, I have to say it’s a pretty neat thing. By the way, though it says you don’t need to have a computer to use it, you do. We went to Radio Shack to ask some questions and the guy said that what it means is that the computer doesn’t have to be on for it to work, but it needs to be connected to the computer in some fashion, whether by USB or ethernet, to be used. But you don’t have to always have it hooked up if you want incoming calls to go to voice mail; you only need it when you need to use it.
Magic Jack; this one’s lived up to the hype so far.