magicJack Plus Review


Jan 7, 2012


I have been using a magicJack for about three years and I recently bought the new magicJack Plus. Both are similar in function so this review will detail my past three years of experience with the device and wether the new version is an improvement.

Previously, I was using Cox landline which I paid around twenty dollars a month before all the taxes they imposed were figured in. That is over $240 a year coming out of my pocket for something I rarely used since my cellphone is my main mode of communication these days. When a close relative introduced me to magicJack and I found out I only had to pay forty dollars a year for phone service I thought it was a deal worth taking. The added attraction for me was that I could connect any regular phone to it. No other voip service offered that capability at the time. You were tied to the computer with a headset.




Three years later I can competently say my experience with magicJack is a mixed-bag. The initial excitement of a forty dollar phone bill quickly fizzled and replaced with frustration. Firstly, magicJack requires that it be connected to a computer with internet connection in order for it to work. Also, if power goes out the device is rendered useless unlike a landline. You can not solely depend on it for emergency calls if you live in an area prone to power outages or internet downtime.

Secondly, you have probably seen the infomercials by now if you are reading my review. They advertise the device as no software installation required. It's plug and play. Truthfully, they lied. The moment the device is plugged in to the computer it downloads and installs the software it needs to run. The software interface is utilitarian, providing an on screen dialpad, phone book and a call log. If you have a headset connected to your computer you can use it to make calls similar to other voip services out there.




I attempted to compare the voice quality to that of a landline and a cellphone from Verizon. MagicJack requires a minimum upload speed of at least 128 kb/s. My upload speed is 150KB/s and a download speed of 600KB/s. Voice quality is highly dependent on the upload speed more so than the download speed. Most residential internet services usually have asymmetrical bandwidth with a faster download speed than upload speed. I surmise response time can also be a factor on performance. Heavy web surfing or uploading files while on a call does deteriorate voice quality significantly. Generally, voice quality was OK during local calls. The audio does break up once in a while. There is also a noticeable delay when I talk and when the other person hears me. Long distance calls seem to be more problematic. Overall, I would say voice quality is somewhere between a cellphone and a landline. Cellphone coverage in my area is not that great to begin with. I only get two bars out of five.

I can recall one call when I could not understand what the other person was saying but when I used my cellphone the conversation was very clear. Another issue I have is on several occasions calling the magicJack sent me directly to voicemail. I did not even hear the phone ring. I missed a lot of calls and not even be aware of it.

I have noticed magicJack works similar to a half-duplex transmission. If the parties on each end of the line talk at the same time, neither will hear anything intelligible. Granted, most people try not to talk over each other, but it does happen in a normal conversation.


So what does the new magicJack Plus have to offer? The primary advantage is that you do not need to connect the device to a computer once it is setup and running. It has a built-in ethernet port you connect to a modem or a router and a small power supply plugs to an outlet and provides power to the device.

Setup was straightforward. You initially connect it to a computer to register a phone number. Once that is all done you can use it like the original magicJack or disconnect it from the computer and set it up as a stand-alone device.

Based on my tests, performance and voice quality was similar to the original magicJack. The audio still breaks up every now and then. Also, there is no way to control the volume like you can when connected to a computer. On the up side I like that I don't have to leave the computer on.

The price of the magicJack Plus has gone up to $50 and it now only comes with six months of service. I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone knowing what I know. Out of the five magicJacks I have one died within a year and another has intermittent USB connections. Customer service was rather poor and to get a replacement device I have to fork out another $20 for shipping and handling. That is outrageously high. I gave my other devices to family members and I am now regretting that I did.