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View Full Version : Magic Jack - any good?



Rich Engelhardt
05-31-2014, 8:40 AM
My wife and I are thinking about dropping our land line and we're looking at a Magic Jack.

Our internet connection is only 3MB. I'm wondering if that's enough for a Magic Jack?
I like the fact that we can keep our phone number. We've had the same number for 28 years & have given it to too many places to change it all now.

Matt Meiser
05-31-2014, 10:10 AM
You should be able to port your existing number almost anywhere. Ours went to a Verizon Home Phone Connect device, then later a cell phone. We haven't used a landline here in 18 months and I have no plans to get one when we move.

Michael Mahan
05-31-2014, 11:15 AM
My wife and I are thinking about dropping our land line and we're looking at a Magic Jack.

Our internet connection is only 3MB. I'm wondering if that's enough for a Magic Jack?
I like the fact that we can keep our phone number. We've had the same number for 28 years & have given it to too many places to change it all now.
what I've heard about Magic Jack is it leaves an open door to your PC to hacks & malware . That & Magic Jack sells your info to 3rd parties
there are way better VoiP providers

Jason Beam
05-31-2014, 11:20 AM
Take a look at Ooma -we've had our phone on an Ooma box for probably 2 years now -- 100% satisfied, no problems at all.

Sam Murdoch
05-31-2014, 12:00 PM
Been using MJ for 5 +years now without any aggravation or issues - no compromise to our Mac computer security. With the upgraded version that I installed a few years ago there is a device that plugs into any household outlet then a phone wire to the phone and a connection to the router. The computer no longer needs to be turned on to make ore receive calls - a huge improvement. Voice mail goes directly to e-mail, which I like very much. The message is stored and can be listened to at my leisure (it is not an e-mail text but a audio message - with a volume control and everything :)). This is very inexpensive - one payment every 5 years with no bills in between. Although it is now nearly $ 100.00 for 5 years I'm still on a $69.00 plan since the upgrade. A near perfect system if you ask me.

Jerome Stanek
05-31-2014, 12:43 PM
I tried Magic jack and it was bad. My SIL has it and complains about the sound going in and out. We both have higher speed internet then you.

Mike Hollingsworth
05-31-2014, 1:14 PM
Get Google Phone, it's free. keep your number. Port all those unwanted calls to your eMail.
Land lines are so yesterday!!!

Jerome Stanek
05-31-2014, 1:31 PM
Get Google Phone, it's free. keep your number. Port all those unwanted calls to your eMail.
Land lines are so yesterday!!!

They may be so yesterday but they still work better where I live than a cell

Evan Patton
05-31-2014, 4:47 PM
I've used Vonage for over 10 years and have been very happy with it (as long as we have good broadband signal).

Art Mann
05-31-2014, 8:00 PM
I'm with Matt. If you have good cell service at your home location, then can just move your home phone number to cell service. We were already on a family plan such that an additional line only cost $10/month. We went so far as to get a little interface box that serves as the interface between the cell tower and our hard wired house phones. The home phones behave just like they did on the telephone company wire. Having said that, we are going to discard the house phones (and the number) as soon as the contract that provided the little box expires. We never give out our obsolete home number any more and everyone has stopped using it. Nowdays, the only people who call that number are solicitors.

Rich Engelhardt
06-01-2014, 8:02 AM
I don't believe using our cell service would be cost effective.
Both my wife and I have prepaid cellular (Tracphone) since it's the cheapest way for us to go.
We only use our cell phones for emergency or for a very rare long distance call.

Justin Ludwig
06-01-2014, 9:52 AM
We used them for making calls from Kuwait and that internet service was HORRIBLE. I can't imagine it not working well in the states. Who still has a land line aside from businesses? ;)

Matt Meiser
06-01-2014, 9:57 AM
Old people. :D

Rich, if you can get reliable Verizon service, check out this pre-paid version of the Home Phone Connect. http://www.straighttalk.com/wps/portal/home/shop/otherdevices/ShopHomePhones/?utm_source=IMM&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=DR&utm_content=25134-184150-42569-90&utm_keyword=%7bkeyword%7d

Greg Portland
06-01-2014, 2:39 PM
My wife and I are thinking about dropping our land line and we're looking at a Magic Jack.

Our internet connection is only 3MB. I'm wondering if that's enough for a Magic Jack?
I like the fact that we can keep our phone number. We've had the same number for 28 years & have given it to too many places to change it all now.3MB is more than enough bandwidth for voice communication.
I've tried Magic Jack, Vonage, and now Ooma. Ooma is superior in multiple areas. You buy the box (~$130) and then it's free phone for life (not counting taxes). We pay $2.50 a month for the taxes and nothing else. They will port your phone number for you. If you don't mind changing your phone number then you can avoid the taxes by using Google Voice (who can't port land line numbers) + Ooma.

Curt Harms
06-02-2014, 8:25 AM
Old people. :D
.....................


And people that need to have confidence in 911. I don't know if it's been fixed but there have been tales about calls to 911 via VoIP providers not working well at all, like ambulances showing up after 30 minutes or more due to phone number <-> address screw-ups. There's not an issue if the person making the call can talk and give the 911 operator an address. If they can't talk for whatever reason (home invasion? stroke?) it'd be nice if the phone number shows the correct address.

Matt Meiser
06-02-2014, 9:10 AM
I've read those. Mostly in literature provided by the phone company about why you should pay them $60-80 for the same thing Vonage offers for $25. They usually also point out that you can't have a fax machine or use a modem.

Vonage has 911 capability, but you do have to set the physical address on your account. https://support.vonage.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1110/~/traditional-911-and-vonage-911-dialing

Modern cell phones have GPS locators for 911, including Home Phone Connect.

Landlines, you are relying on ancient infrastructure (ours ran on wiring the tech told me was date-coded to the early 50's) no one is spending money to maintain and they aren't immune to mistakes either. It took a year of complaining to get our number tied to the right address--phone company was reporting a different address to 911 and our power company which uses the same database. Funny they didn't seem to have a problem getting our billing sent to us.

Dan Hintz
06-02-2014, 11:53 AM
Modern cell phones have GPS locators for 911

Assuming GPS is enabled... I keep mine off for the power savings (SIRF chips eat a lot of power).

Matt Meiser
06-02-2014, 12:07 PM
One assumes if someone is worried about 911 location they wouldn't do that.

paul cottingham
06-02-2014, 12:13 PM
And people that need to have confidence in 911. I don't know if it's been fixed but there have been tales about calls to 911 via VoIP providers not working well at all, like ambulances showing up after 30 minutes or more due to phone number <-> address screw-ups. There's not an issue if the person making the call can talk and give the 911 operator an address. If they can't talk for whatever reason (home invasion? stroke?) it'd be nice if the phone number shows the correct address.

When we used to build VoIP systems, 911 was a huge issue. In fact, we generally used an analogue phone line for the main POTS connection between the VoIP system and the rest of the world. That way, at least when they called 911 the first responders would have a reliable address to respond to. We would use VoIP for all the internal extensions, conference calling, and often long distance.
i would never rely on a VoIP system for a main number under any circumstances, especially with children or a vulnerable person living in the house.

Matt Meiser
06-02-2014, 12:17 PM
You guys apparently haven't experienced just how bad the condition of the rural telephone system is. We used to go without reliable phone service for weeks. Now we could get phone service from the cable company, but the phone company trained us not to need it.

I'm sure its better in suburban areas, but they aren't maintaining the copper there either.

Brian Elfert
06-02-2014, 12:49 PM
Assuming GPS is enabled... I keep mine off for the power savings (SIRF chips eat a lot of power).

You can't disable the location tracking for 911 purposes. My old LG flip phone would show emergency mode on the screen if 911 was dialed. I had to call 911 a few times for various reasons not involving myself.

Dan Hintz
06-02-2014, 5:17 PM
You can't disable the location tracking for 911 purposes. My old LG flip phone would show emergency mode on the screen if 911 was dialed. I had to call 911 a few times for various reasons not involving myself.

For 911 to receive a GPS coordinate, the chip has to be up and running, as well as having synced with the incoming satellite signals. Even if you enabled the chip remotely (or automatically with a call to 911), it can take upwards of 5-10 minutes before you get a lock (especially if it hasn't synced up in more than a week or so). This is algorithmic speed with the GPS processors in cellphones that one cannot simply make faster with sheer willpower. If you're in a heavily populated area, the provider can use triangulation between multiple cell towers to give a relatively decent location fix (he's in building X), but no chance of that happening out in the boonies... even the triangulation request takes a couple of minutes to flow through, so even that isn't instant.

Curt Harms
06-03-2014, 8:35 AM
When we used to build VoIP systems, 911 was a huge issue. In fact, we generally used an analogue phone line for the main POTS connection between the VoIP system and the rest of the world. That way, at least when they called 911 the first responders would have a reliable address to respond to. We would use VoIP for all the internal extensions, conference calling, and often long distance.
i would never rely on a VoIP system for a main number under any circumstances, especially with children or a vulnerable person living in the house.

I think - I'm not certain - that's how Verizon FiOS works. When we had it installed, we asked the installer (who seemed to know what he was talking about) about 911 service. He said it was POTS to the CO then digital so the location service was pretty reliable. True, we didn't have the problem with copper that Matt talks about. Everything here was new in the mid '90s. I have heard there's minimal effort to maintain copper in areas that have fiber in the street. The patches are patched rather than new wire being run.

Matt Meiser
06-03-2014, 9:24 AM
Here they'll cut it open to splice individual wires in a cable, then wrap the whole thing in duct tape and a trash bag (I'm sure they have scientific names for their special duct tape and trash bags.)

So FIOS is copper from the CO to the house? Isn't that the same as U-Verse?

Matt Krusen
06-03-2014, 10:53 AM
+1 for Ooma. My fiancÚ uses it to work from home and its worked great so far. The up front fee pays itself off pretty quickly.

Dan Hintz
06-03-2014, 11:24 AM
So FIOS is copper from the CO to the house? Isn't that the same as U-Verse?

FiOS is fiber up to the box hung on the side of your house. Then it shifts to copper Ethernet cable and runs to (sometimes multiple) box(es) within your house.

paul cottingham
06-03-2014, 11:25 AM
Here they'll cut it open to splice individual wires in a cable, then wrap the whole thing in duct tape and a trash bag (I'm sure they have scientific names for their special duct tape and trash bags.)

So FIOS is copper from the CO to the house? Isn't that the same as U-Verse?

I believe it is fibre to the pole, copper from the pole to the house.

Man. Splicing copper. That is unbelievable. Hope that spliced twisted pair isnt carrying ADSL.

Mike Henderson
06-03-2014, 12:29 PM
I believe it is fibre to the pole, copper from the pole to the house.

Man. Splicing copper. That is unbelievable. Hope that spliced twisted pair isnt carrying ADSL.
The Verizon Fios installations I've seen have been fiber to the house. There's a box they install on the side of the house which terminates the fiber (PON) and it has connections for voice twisted pair and Ethernet. Here's a link (http://www.verizon.com/support/residential/internet/fiosinternet/general+support/getting+started/questionsone/85125.htm)from Verizon. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verizon_FiOS)also has an article on FIOS

Mike

Brian Elfert
06-03-2014, 1:48 PM
Man. Splicing copper. That is unbelievable. Hope that spliced twisted pair isnt carrying ADSL.

Years ago I had dozens of phone lines and a T-1. One of the phone lines went out and I called repair to get it fixed. Apparently some genius used one of the pairs for my T-1 line to fix the phone line. They come out right away to fix the T-1 line and were there until about midnight fixing it. (T-1 lines have no dial tone and no way to tell the pair is in use. They are supposed to be marked specially to not get used like that.)

Curt Harms
06-04-2014, 8:20 AM
Here they'll cut it open to splice individual wires in a cable, then wrap the whole thing in duct tape and a trash bag (I'm sure they have scientific names for their special duct tape and trash bags.)

So FIOS is copper from the CO to the house? Isn't that the same as U-Verse?

There is no copper used that I'm aware of. Is it possible that the ONT is hard coded for location somehow? It's not portable like a VoIP adapter so maybe? There was a Comcast salesman here last night that claims FiOS is now doing coax from the house to the node, then fiber like Comcast. He claims they started in 2011 or thereabouts because fiber cost too much. I'm sceptical about that claim but don't know for sure, I have no idea the cost of 100 yds. of coax vs. 100 yds. of fiber. I am 100% certain we have fiber to the ONT, then coax and phone wire from there.

Matt Meiser
06-04-2014, 8:51 AM
Our cable provider did FTTH. My understanding is the drop cable is over $1/ft and they pulled out right about 1000' to do my house. If they'd have run it the way I wanted, it would have been less than half that but they have a rule about following incoming power.

Dan Hintz
06-04-2014, 3:29 PM
I have no idea the cost of 100 yds. of coax vs. 100 yds. of fiber.

Fiber should be about 1/10th the cost of coax, per length... but sometimes people do weird things.

Phil Thien
06-04-2014, 3:58 PM
Fiber should be about 1/10th the cost of coax, per length... but sometimes people do weird things.

Boy that sure hasn't been my experience.

paul cottingham
06-04-2014, 4:44 PM
The glass part of the fibre is cheap (ish) remember, it is glass that is treated so that it is very flexible. that process has its costs. the glass also has fewer impurities, so it is more expensive than you might expect. The Kevlar jacket is also not cheap.
That is for multimode fibre which is very thick (comparatively.) Single mode is tiny, and more expensive to make. It also must be spliced to connectors (which involves a very expensive piece of kit,) unlike multimode which has its connectors glued on. Test equipment for either kind of fibre is also expensive. Our kit, which was a simple one, was $2500. That was a microscope, and a light loss measuring meter, polishing puck, some other stuff I can't remember, and some tools. Our copper kit was around $400 or so.
Also, I could teach you how to cut, glue, clip and polish a multimode fibre connector in an afternoon. It is even easier with a mechanical connector. I never spliced single mode, but I suspect it is much more involved learning about lining up, and fusing the ends together. Once trained it think it is much easier than multi mode but the fusion spliced is an expensive piece of kit.
The fibre going pole to pole is single mode, I believe pole to house is multimode.

Also fibre and twisted pair must be home runs, you can't just splice in a tap, like you can with coax.

all this rambling is just to note that fibre may seem simpler and less expensive, but I don't think it is in reality. When I wired up my house for Ethernet and cable (I hate wireless) I didn't put in fibre as well, as I thought it would be too expensive. I regret that now, largely cause I found two spools of fibre zip cable after I sealed the ceiling back up, and I don't have the heart to open it up again.

Greg Portland
06-04-2014, 6:02 PM
I've had to call 911 from both my Vonage and my Ooma systems. Both worked w/o any problems.

Dan Hintz
06-04-2014, 7:25 PM
Please note, I wasn't suggesting overall fiber installs are cheaper than coax... I was only stating that fiber itself, compared foot-by-foot to coax, should be a decade less expensive. Once you add in connectors, et. al., the money changes quickly. But when you consider possible data rates between fiber/coax, particularly multi-mode fiber and over long hauls and heavy bitrates, then the money quickly switches back to fiber again.

paul cottingham
06-04-2014, 8:02 PM
Please note, I wasn't suggesting overall fiber installs are cheaper than coax... I was only stating that fiber itself, compared foot-by-foot to coax, should be a decade less expensive. Once you add in connectors, et. al., the money changes quickly. But when you consider possible data rates between fiber/coax, particularly multi-mode fiber and over long hauls and heavy bitrates, then the money quickly switches back to fiber again.

Oh yeah, and the bandwidth limit for singlemode is pretty well limitless, so it is future proof. So long term,it is much cheaper. its the initial investment thats killer. We had a client who wanted a future proof connection between two buildings with grounding issues. You could feel current running across the shielding, as someone had grounded both ends of the shield. The computers on both ends went through NICs like they were free. He asked about fibre even though it was running data at something like 28000 baud, so we installed fibre twin cable. that was 20 years ago, and the connection is still there as far as I know, and will likely survive the Zombie Apocalypse.
Upon reading my other post, I think I may have come across wrong. So if I came across like a jerk, I apologize.

Rich Engelhardt
06-13-2014, 7:11 PM
Well after reading all the horror stories about MJ on Amazon, and seeing nothing but high praise for Ooma.....

I went with Ooma. They have a special on right now with a $30 rebate which made the price $99.
I believe I have a month left on our phone/DSL/Direct TV bundle and we plan on dropping that in favor of a cable deal.

The cable deal for internet and TV is about half the price of the AT&T bundle so ----despite really not liking Time Warner - - they seem to be the cheapest game in town right now.