2/26/09

My "Mobile" Land Line - The Cheap Geek Buys a Magic Jack

I know this fellow who is so cheap (everyone: "How Cheap Is He??") -- he is so cheap that he hasn't had a real home phone (AKA "land line") for almost 8 years now.  Okay... it's really me, but, anyone that knows me, knows I'm cheap.
Last week, I went out and bought myself one of those "Magic Jack" devices that I've seen on TV, and have seen reviews online.  At $40.00 for the device, and $20.00 for a cheap cordless phone (on clearance, of course), I came away with a new "land line" for my house for an initial annual cost of $5.00 a month (that's $60 / 12 months).  I'm going to pony up for the 5 year subscription to the phone for another $60 bringing my average monthly cost over the next 6 years to a whopping $1.67 a month.  This makes me want to get up and do my cheapskate happy dance (lucky for you this isn't a v-blog!!)
This got me thinking of the potential that Magic Jack could have in reducing costs beyond the personal level.  So, here are a few that I thought of off the top of my head:
1.  Corporate Travel - There have been a number of times that I've travelled to places where there is spotty cell reception in the hotel or conference center, but I got Internet reception.  Plug in the Magic Jack to my laptop, and viola!!  instant phone service.
2.  International Travel - Got Internet access??  Then you've got a US phone number.  Give one of these to someone that is going to be staying overseas for months, and you've enabled them to talk with their families back in the States for no additional costs.
3.  International Friends and Family - Got a friend or relative in a foreign country?  Give them a Magic Jack as a gift, and now you have a way for them to call you, or you to call them with no phone cards or high long-distance charges.  This would have been a great idea to do when the Au Pair we had with us last year went back to Germany.  My kids would love to call her at 2:00 AM German time to tell her about their day.
4.  Extreme Business Phones -  If you're just starting a business and you spent all your money on computers and Internet service, try using Magic Jack phones for your business lines.  There are some drawbacks, to be sure, but it would be a great money saver until you get enough to pay those huge monthly phone bills.
5.  Connect via 3G Internet Card - I haven't "Googled" it yet, but I'm pretty sure that some smart guy figured out a way to hook a laptop w/3G Internet card + Magic Jack up to a regular phone, and make calls.  I'm just surprised that it - (a) wasn't me and (b) I haven't seen this geek on my bus ride home!
Of course, some of this is Pie-in-the-Sky, Polliannish thinking on my part.  But, there does seem to be a lot of potential in using a product like this to save some hard earned cash.  There are some drawbacks to Magic Jack, such as - you have to have your computer on and connected to the Internet.  But, even then, your calls roll over to voice mail (free voice mail!!), or you can have it automatically forward to another phone using call forwarding (free call forwarding!!)
Let me know if you also use Magic Jack and have some additional ideas on how to use Magic Jack to save some serious money!!  Also, if you see the guy with the laptop, 3G card, and a regular home phone making calls on a bus...  email me the pictures!!!

NOTE:  It came to me in an epiphany!!  - I'm going to buy a 1968 Dodge Dart convertible, and install my wireless Internet connection, Magic Jack, and the classic rotary phone! Then I'm going to pretend I'm Mannix from the old TV Show!!

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope you have no emergency when home, 911 services will not be able to identify where you are. Its a small thing, until you cant talk.

Greg Lambert said...

Well, considering I only had cell service before, I'm not in any worse shape 911-wise...

I believe you can actually transfer the 911 locations if you relocate (say you're staying in a hotel). But, then, hopefully, the hotel's 911 service would work.

-Greg

law1389 said...

Hey Geek!

Actually, you're fine with cell phone - they had to get 911 capabilities years ago (when I was still in telecom). Don't know about the Magic Jack - but I'd say you're better off buying a gun than depending on response to a 911 call. ;)

Laura

Greg Lambert said...

Hey Geekette!! Is the gun to put yourself out of your misery??

It turns out that Magic Jack does have the Enhanced VOIP 911 service, and is linked to your address. Plus, if you relocate (or travel), you can change the E911 address to the local 911 service. see more...

Toby and I were discussing that there would be so many variables that would have to go wrong for you to not be able to get emergency help, that it probably wouldn't matter if you had a land line, cell phone or magic jack. We compared it to those that buy the seatbelt cutters and glass breakers because they worry about driving their car into a lake and having the seatbelts lock on you. It is possible... but very unlikely.

-Greg

Jackie Hutter, Intellectual Property and Patent Business Strategist and "Recovering Patent Lawyer" said...

I have a MagicJack for our lake house where we go a couple of times a month and try to keep utility costs as low as possible. Dropped the landline ages ago due to cost, but cell reception spotty so really hard to conduct business at that location. If there was a way to get tv reception or broadband this cheap, I would be very happy. (SlingBox won't work for us.)

Elizabeth Lewis said...

Have you found having a magic jack is all that great? My only number is my cell phone and it seems to be working well which is what it sounds like for you too - so would you give up your cell for the magic jack or is it really only a cheap toy to play with right now?

Greg Lambert said...

I've only had a cell phone for the past 6 or so years, and have done pretty good at having it charged, receiving a good signal, and placed securely on my hip! However, I have a couple of pre-teens in the house (who have suddenly discovered the phone) and I wanted to make sure that we had something at the house at all times. My lovely, wonder, beautiful wife (hope that saves me from my next comment) constantly looses her phone, or has a hearing disorder which causes her to not hear the ringing of her cell phone -- usually around the time that I'm calling her to let her know that my car battery died and I need her to come pick me up at the bus station. So, for the cost of a $40 MagicJack, and a $20 phone (less than I pay for one month of cell service for my phone alone!) I have a pretty stable home phone that I can call and actually get someone to answer.

Bottom line, I say it is definitely is worth having at my house.

-Greg

Greg Lambert said...

Well, learn something new every day.... I just discovered that MagicJack will email me my voice mails. How, freaking cool is that??

-Greg

Sam said...

I have my primary business number as a Verizon mobile number, but typically forward all calls to my MagicJack phone. That saves the Verizon time, which I share with my mobile phone. I was having trouble with my internet service, which led to poor reception on the MagicJack, but once I got the internet fixed, the phone works great. MagicJack emails you when you get a voicemail, which can be handy (I can sometimes get emails on my phone, but am not able to call in/out). Also, when someone leaves you a message you want to save, it is handy to be able to save that .wav file into a client file for future reference.

josh said...

Thanks Greg Lambert for your a descriptive and wonderful comment. Magic Jack a USB device allowing you to send and receive phone calls through your computer's broadband connection. The Magic Jack device you just need to plug into your computer's USB port and the other end into your phone. If you do a lot of long distance calling VoIP services tend to be cheaper than traditional landlines even with unlimited calling plans. Savings are even greater if you pay per minute charges for long distance calling by Magic Jack.

Anonymous said...

Do any MagicJack users care that MJ uses some form of call data (numbers called or calls receieved) or personal data to target ads or offers? My take on this is very much like Gmail ads targeted to keywords in emails...who cares? As long as it works well and is cheap. Or am I missing something ?? Are privacy wackos right? Think what can be done if that data fell into the wrong hands? Should I warn my friends who might use MagicJack to respond to ads on Craigslist?

vargas said...

So, does anyone have any experience with using MJ with wireless broadband? I'm thinking of buying it and I'm curious as I might switch my cable broadband service for wireless next year.

Anonymous said...

had magicjack for 2 years LOVED IT now i hate it and recommend NO one get it.

i get no unlimited calls now i have to pay to make a local call.
i paid my yearly dues only to get screwed and have my outbound calls turned off.. this is a scam to get more money out of good customers. they said my line was flagged as heavy user. i used it about 20 minutes a day tops. no more than 5 calls a day. heavy user give me a break. i was going to give them another year of service 20 more bucks but now i wont give them a cent. scam artist company with mean customer service. like i said i loved it for 2 years and would recommend it to computer geeks only not grandma like the commercial says. STAY FAR AWAT FROM THE MAGICJACK SCAM and if anyone knows of a different type of magicjack thing let me know. cuz im am done with magicscam.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have a website where I have written about the magicJack and/or VoIP related topics. My website ranks very high for magicJack related keywords on Google and I was wondering if you might be interested in swapping links.

Please get back to me and let me know if you are interested or not.

Thanks!
Jesse
trackstar2683@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Have any of you MagicJack users looked at Ooma? If so what are your thoughts?

I'm in the process of finding a way to eliminate a landline to cut costs but I use my landline due to poor cell reception. I have no need for international calls (skype is there if needed) so I am only looking for free/cheap local & US long distance.

MagicJack requires a computer running constantly. Seems foolish to be a slave to my phone line by having to wake up my computer every time I come home just to be ready for a phone call so I'd leave my computer running 24/7 if I had MJ.

MJ costs $40 to start with $20/year for service. Add on the average electricity cost of a newer desktop and costs go up. 150 watts x 24 hours x 365 days/yr = 1,314,000 watt-hours or 1314 kilowatt-hours. If you're paying $0.14 per kWh you're paying $184 a year to run your computer. I'll be generous and say half of that time is just for MJ as I would normally shut the computer down when not in use. That is $92/year in electricity for MagicJack.

Ooma only requires an Internet connection. Its device is ultra low power consumption compared to keeping a desktop running. About the same power as a cordless phone. Ooma does cost $200 for the box but there are no annual fees.

In the first year MJ could cost up to $132 while Ooma costs $200. In year two MJ could cost another $112 while Ooma costs $0. Omma out saves MJ within 2 years. At $112/year for MJ & 12 hours a day/night computer electricity I may as well stick with a no frills landline.

Ooma seems more convenient (no computer running 24/7) and cheaper. Please correct me if I made a mistake in my assumptions or calculations. I am interested in hearing others thoughts about using MJ as a constant home line compared to Ooma.

brian king said...

I use the magic jack for my home phone and have not had any trouble. Also has cheap international calls. The free trial is at magicjackphone.tk and lasts for 30 days.

 

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