OK, so I've seen this magic jack thing on TV for like 3 years and I admit I've been curious.
I'm no luddite and I'm sure not a stranger to things Geekish - in fact I've used Vonage for about 6 years, but still-- it's on an infomercial-- how good could it be? It's a rule or something- on an informercial, it HAS to be crap.
Things being what they are and times being the same, ie: TIGHT- I finally decided to throw $40 ($20 for the device, $20 for the year's service... and there's a 30 day money back guarantee which, according to several folks on the web, is valid) at the thing and see what happened.
(yes, two both my readers- I did my research-- found that the folks that are complaining about the device seem to fall into two categories: mouth-breathers who can barely use a keyboard when on the web... sorta... to spit their vitriolic complaints into the ether, and people who would starve to death with a truckload of canned goods, a rifle, a canopener, and an axe, and 50,000 rounds of .223 at their disposal. Either way-- not the brightest bulb on the strand, they)
Got the Magic Jack in the mail today- it arrived in 4 days (ok, I spent the $4 for express shipping- hell, it's reasonable, and I'm impatient- there's geekin' to be done!). It came in a soft-sided mailer, same sort you'd ship an AOL disk back in the day. (Yes, I know. Shut up.) Opened it, it ships in a simple cardboard and foam affair. There's no real directions to be had other than "plug into USB jack. Do not plug unto USB hub that isn't powered by AC"
(at this point, our complainers are already losing their damn minds.. "ZOMG111!!! THERE'S NO DIRECTIONS!!! IT'S SO haaaaaarrRDDDDDD1!!!! SOMEONE COME FIX THIS, I DON'T HAVE AN ENGINEERING DEGREEEEEE!!!)
No, I'm not kidding. I have supported users for... well, WAY too long. I know of what I speak, ok? Let's just say-- I'm way burned out on IT work. WAAAAY. I'm seriously considering getting my welding certificate.
So anyway-- being devil-may-care, I plugged the damn thing in... and...
.. it just worked!
One minor caveat- you must have patience- it'll install the software (software lives on the device- there's a bit of flashram, see) automatically, bring up the softphone (software phone.. this isn't that technical, really) panel, and bring up a wizard to walk you through getting your phone number, all automatically on most systems (those that have registry hacks done to avoid USB Autoplay may- *MAY*- have minor issue. But if you can figure out how to disable autoplay, you can damn sure open Explorer and launch the app yourself). The only gotcha- and it wasn't a huge one- is that I run Skype in the background 24/7 on this machine, and it wanted to use the Magic Jack as an audio interface. I clicked "disable" when the window spawned, and it's not a problem.
I got this because my ATT cellphone gets horrible service in my home. For $20 a year, why not? I've already made a couple calls and am VERY happy with the quality. I'll be keeping the device, no doubt about it.
BTW- the website and presumably the salesdroid if you elect to go that way on the phone, will try to sell you the next 5 years of service for a discount of $60, right when you buy, giving the impression it's "now or never". Don't. Get the bare bones, see if it works- *for you*- and if so, you'll see an advert pop up in the softphone panel giving you the same offer after you've installed the device.
For those techincally inclined: my system is an AMD Athlon64, 2.0Ghz, 2.0GB RAM, XP Pro 32-bit. Nothing stellar by any means. I can't comment on what the Mac experience would be with this product, and I don't believe they support Linux. Knowing LUGs like I do, though, I would be VERY surprised to find there's not already someone supporting them in the OS community.
The hardware side of things, in terms of what you'll use every day with the Magic Jack... is a standard single-line set. AKA a "telephone". I'm actually using a GE 28300EE1-A SkypePhone/landline combo handset. It's likely why I had that little instance of Skype trying to use the MagicJack as an audio device. Oddly enough, this actually sounds better on that handset than it did over my Vonage line. There will likely be some comparisons on that front in the near future.
So, yeah-- sometimes there's some good stuff to be had on infomercials. BTW- you can buy these at WallyWorld, Best Bastard, and Rat Shack as well.
Quite honestly, for $20/year, I'm not real sure how they're even leasing the phone number. If this holds out I may well kick Vonage to the curb- and they're already a stellar product even at $15/month.
So overall- my review for this product is 5 out of 5 rounds dead-center-mass.