Is Magic Jack Plus Worth The Wait?
I can’t wait to get my hands on the new and improved Magic Jack, which is being called the Magic Jack Plus. I think that’s a lame name and would prefer something like Magic Jack 2. The VOIP device is supposed to be released any time now and in an interview at this years CES it was leaked that the device would be available in 90 days. That was back in January so I’ve got my fingers crossed that they were being honest. I am skeptical about this aggressive launch date however, since at yest years CES, VocalTec, announced another product that was supposed to be just months away from production. This device was dubbed the FemtoJack, but the idea never made it into the hand of consumers. There were rumors that some nasty lawsuits were brewing because it allowed you to use your cell phone in your house without having to use your cell minutes.
Why am I so excited about the Jack Jack-Plus? The first generation of the MJ was truly a game changer and sent waves through the telecom industry. It gave people another option to paying $30 month for home phone services from the gigantic phone companies. MJ sold over seven million devices because of an extremely low price point, $20 a year, and aggressive as seen on tv advertising. The Coffee Desk did a comprehensive review of the product a while back and can be found here.
There is no question that the original MJ had mega success but the USB device had some major problems that did hamper its growth and popularity. For starters, it had to be plugged into your computer, which had to be turned on to make or receive calls. Users saw varied degrees of quality based on the type of computer they were using and the speed of Internet they had access too.
The Magic Jack Plus has taken this issue totally out of the equation. The new version does not require you to plug it in directly to a computer. It has it’s own mini processor and onboard ram. All you have to do is plug into power and connect it to your high-speed Internet connection via a Cat5 cable and you’re ready to make unlimited free phone calls. The VOIP device is also able to receive a wifi connection or 4G signals.
Another problem users complained about was that Voice quality was poor. VocalTec claims that they have answered this problem by using wide band audio technology, which is often called HD Voice. Wideband audio employs a wider spectrum of audio, which potentially doubles the standard codecs from 8khz to 16khz. The company is also touting hardware echo control to get the highest voice quality possible.
The reason the Magic Jack became so popular was because of their unmatched price point. The device cost $40 upfront and you got one year of free phone calls. Yearly service after that was just $20 a year. The updated MJ is rumored to be just $10 more upfront 49.95 and to also include one year of free local and long distance calling. And yes, you can still have your own number.
One of the biggest issues with the Magic Jack was their less then stellar customer service. I only hope that as VocalTec has also reinvested in creating the Magic Jack Plus that they have also spent the time and energy required to creating top-notch customer support. Only time will tell. Expect a full review of the Magic Jack Plus whenever it ships; let’s just hope it actually does.