With cell phone plans getting cheaper, landlines are dropping like flies. Many people are even dropping more affordable VoIP services like Vonage and Lingo. Yet, it was only a few years ago when MagicJack came out with a pricing scheme that blew the competition away. The premise of MagicJack is pretty simple—buy the MagicJack device for $39.99, and you get a free year of calling to the U.S. and Canada. Each year after that costs just $19.99. MagicJack also provides users with Voice Mail, Call Waiting, conference calling, call forwarding, and 911 assistance.
To get up and running all you had to do was plug the MagicJack into your computer via USB, then plug a landline phone into the MagicJack via a telephone cable. Unfortunately, the biggest pitfall of MagicJack has been that it’s dependent on a computer. Many users, like myself, would prefer to use MagicJack without having the computer turned on. Fortunately, MagicJack has heard our calls, and their next-generation MagicJack PLUS addresses this issue and more.
The new MagicJack PLUS is a petite and portable device, just like its predecessor, and will still work if you plug it into your computer. We tried plugging it into our Mac and the MagicJack software was up and running in just a moment. Once you have signed up and gone through the initial MagicJack account set-up, it takes almost no effort to start making calls. If you choose to use MagicJack Plus with a computer, you can use it while connected to a landline handset or with a headset – the same kind of headset and mic that you would use with Skype.
We tried using MagicJack login PLUS with our computer, but we were even more excited to try MagicJack without a computer, by plugging one end of it into our router, then hooking up our landline headset into it. However, keep in mind that you will have to connect the device to a computer the first time you use MagicJack PLUS. Once you have set up your account, you can use MagicJack without a computer altogether. A USB extension cable, AC adapter, instructions, and an ethernet cable for connecting the MagicJack PLUS to your router are all included in the box.
When you first set up the device on a computer, you’ll be given the option of choosing a vanity number or a Canadian number, both for an additional $10 a year. You can also choose the last four digits from a list of available numbers for $3 a year. Finally, during the MagicJack set-up process you can also purchase replacement insurance for just $10 a year, or upgrade to 5 years of additional free local and long-distance calls for $69.95.
When it comes to making international calls, MagicJack offers an option to purchase prepaid international minutes. Their international rates are not that great – especially when calling mobiles in certain locations overseas. Either way, we wish MagicJack also offered a pay-as-you-go option for international minutes.