Magic Jack - The Philippine Experience
Magic Jack - Philippine experience
About two weeks ago, my mom came home from Canada where she had to visit her ailing sister. They brought home a Magic Jack with them. I normally use VOIP myself using Skype to call my relatives but that seems to be very hard for my mom and her siblings to do. She is 82 years old but is still very active. She just hates computers (LOL).
What is Magic Jack
Magic Jack is an easy to use plug-and-play device that you hook up to your USB port to give a very simplified VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service. This device as shown above currently sells for USD 39.99. With this device and the amount paid, you get unlimited calls to any US and Canadian number, you get your own US number, voice mail, conference calls - this is for a whole year with the said subscription. There are no monthly charges and it would cost 19.99 USD to renew every year. Your Magic Jack number can call another magic jack number, any US or Canadian number, even cellphones. The device can connect to the usual land line phone provided by regular phone companies. There is also another option to simply plug the device in your laptop and use it as a soft phone with of course a fast internet connection - even thru wifi.
Installation was fairly simple. I just plugged it in my USB and the system did everything by itself. It does not matter if your PC or laptop is USB1.1 or USB2.0 capable, I have tested both and there were no issues. There was a little snag when it did not run the first time. There was an option however to click an update and it was easy after the update. After a successful install, one has to register the device so that the system can assign your US Number.
The foremost advantage will be cost savings as there will be no monthly charges. In the Philippines, we are charged nominally USD 0.40 cents a minute so what we paid for will only be good for 100 minutes using our regular phones or cellular phones.
The Next advantage from our point of view will be some ease in operation more so for someone who is not that adept in computer skills. Take my mom and her siblings for one. They will not even touch a mouse so the Magic Jack, once up and running - will be a simple as calling our local neighbor using a regular landline phone. My mom simply need to dial the number and not even touch anything on my laptop or PC. The device was designed for someone who don't even have basic computer skills. Yes - it will not operate if the PC is off - but we do not turn off our PC's in our house. This one is for my mom. Her siblings are mostly in Canada and a lot of friends in the US. It does not work for someone in Guam (landline or cellphone) not unless they have magic jack too.
This is also advantageous where the cost of IDD calls are so ridiculously high like India. They just need to install the system to take advantage of this just like anywhere else.
Magic Jack will install on any decent PC. I installed this on my old Pentium4 desktop on a USB 2.0 and installed it again on my old Thinkpad USB 1.1. In both instances, it worked well after some time. It was not a breeze to install it but I simply plugged it and it did install after I downloaded the update.
It should also be noted that as in all VoIP devices, this will demand some bandwidth on your system so our initial try with my old 128/64 kbps DSL connection was awful. The service was hardly usable. We had to upgrade to a better connection using the Globe WiMax @ 1 Mbps maximum.
Using my bandwidth monitor software - it is recommended that one use the fastest connection of at least a steady stream of 256kbps on both download and upload. to test your system, before you even try the device - you can check your VoIP capabilities on visualware.com. I monitored the system with an ongoing call. The best quality of call was achieved on a steady stream of at least 100kbps. Lower speeds can still be acceptable with some clipping.
Quality of calls
After we upgraded our measly and cheap connection from 128kbps to 1Mbps, the quality of call can be compared to a local call, There were only some instances of delay since our upgraded broadband connection was wireless, new, and not that reliable yet. Assuming that they maintain the speed they promised, typical of steady streams we get from better and faster DSL/ADSL, then calls will be very clear more so during non-peak hours of usage and when the network does not demand resources and bandwidth is a lot better.
I have read from some hubs and blogs that there is much to be desired from the service for the more demanding. Of course, Magic Jack simply presents an option - a cheap option at that for someone in the Philippines so that IDD charges are done away with. It surely is one way to connect to family and friends in the US and Canada without the dents in our wallet. For us - this is a plausible alternative!
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