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How MagicJack Works

What do people think of it and where can I get one?

Most reviews tend to agree that MagicJack works and is one of the cheapest home VoIP options. Early MagicJack suffered from the 24-hour computer connection requirement and the inability to port numbers, but these concerns are moot with MagicJack Plus. Some reviews of the original MagicJack stated that the quality wasn't quite as good as landline, but was as good as or better than cellular. There can still be distortion or delay caused by things like interference from software or computer issues, other devices sharing your bandwidth or a weak Internet connection, but the newer MagicJack Plus purportedly results in better call quality, even on par with landline service.

One repeated complaint is customer service, especially the fact that it's computer-based only, with no possibility of calling a support line. MagicJack's customer support is all via their online documentation and a live Web chat feature. You reportedly have to step through a few levels in the knowledge base to get to the Web chat, but at that point you are at least dealing with a real person. This is apparently fine for simple problems, but some find chat a difficult way to resolve more technically involved issues.

There are also complaints about the paucity of documentation included with the device and all the up-selling during setup. You have to be sure to opt out of all the extras you don't want in order to avoid additional fees.

There are also lots of good reviews, and even the reviews with some negatives or reservations tend to concede that the device works fairly well, and inexpensively, once you work out any kinks.

MagicJack is available through the company's Web site as well as a wide variety of retailers. If you order from the manufacturer's site, the 30-day free trial applies starting from the date you place the order. If you buy it elsewhere, you have to stick to the retailer's return policy.

According to the company, they have sold more than 11 million of the devices since the launch of the product. Perhaps surprisingly, the product attracts a large number of retirees. It's also popular with people overseas who want to call the U.S. or Canada cheaply. And, of course, it appeals to lots of people looking to reduce costs in tough economic times.

With so many people ditching their landlines for cell phones or VoIP, MagicJack is one of several viable options for having cheap in-home phone service. And even if you have another phone service, MagicJack could provide a handy extra line, long-distance savings or a way to preserve precious mobile minutes. It's definitely worth serious consideration when taking a trip abroad -- to locations with broadband, of course.