I’ve been using MagicJack for around 4 or 5 years now. It’s a little VoIP device that plugs into the USB port of your computer, or into a network port of your router. You plug a phone into the other end (or not – you can use your laptop as a softphone), and after doing a bit of setup you’re ready to make calls.
- Really cheap. The device costs $70 and that includes the first year of service. After that it’s $35/year
- Pick a phone number in the city of your choice. If you want a local Boston number, you can have a local Boston number. If you want a local Vancouver number, you can have a local Vancouver number.
- Unlimited calling anywhere in North America
- Bring your MagicJack with you to Mumbai or Munich or Montevideo, plug in to a network connection, and your local Boston or Vancouver number is right there with you in the hotel room, including the unlimited North-America-wide calling
- You can set it up so voice messages are delivered to you via email
- Painful infomercials and gimmicky website leave you feeling like you have to explain “yeah that MagicJack” every time you tell someone about your VoIP service
- Android app isn’t ready for prime time (it’s a battery killer), so some nice added functionality is lost
- Nickel & dime kind of company. They somehow find a way to add an extra $5 or $6 to your order when it ships. Things like a Canadian phone number cost an extra $10/year.
- Lousy tech support. It is incredibly obvious they are working off a set of scripted answers
- Can be finicky about what kind of network router it wants to be plugged in to, but the option of plugging into the USB port of a computer is usually pretty solid
Other similar options
I happen to own a MagicJack so that’s why I am writing about it, but MagicJack is hardly the only game in town. NetTalk is a direct competitor, as is FreePhoneLine.ca. Google Voice is another good option if you know the technical tricks required to make it work in Canada, and even Skype has gotten into the business of selling VoIP hardware.
If you feel like digging in and doing some more research, voip-info.org has all the information you could ever want and more.