Mar 14, 2008, 4:51 AM
Post #9 of 27
(This got longer than I at first intended......) Isabel
I know that a lot of people in Mexico use Internet phone service such as Vonage. There is a 'new kid' on the block these days that, in my experience, is just as good and is even LESS costly.... MagicJack. [Disclaimer: I do not work for them, have no stock in the company and otherwise cannot profit from this information!]
First let me say that, to reduce costs, I replaced my US "Bell" telephone land-line 2 years ago with a Vonage-like service called ViaTalk. I have been happy with the performance and price ($18/mo. including tax for 500 minutes). But recently I also bought the new MagicJack product just to try it out. Why? Partially because I like to try new things and, at $40 one-time, it was affordable. Another reason is that I was looking for something (other than a cellphone) to take with me when I make trips around the US and Canada with my laptop in my travel trailer. You can, of course, use it at your home too... and I do. And the last reason I got it is the cost, or lack thereof! After the original purchase of $40, there is NO charge per month or per call for calls within the US or to Canada. Each succeeding year, there is another $20 charge to continue the service (so I guess one could say that there IS a $1.67/mo. cost associated with the MagicJack!).
The 'beauty' of this product is that it is small (thumb size) and just plugs into any USB slot on a computer, making it a totally mobile phone. You do need a regular 'phone' instrument of some sort to plug into the device. So if you are anywhere that you have a high-speed Internet connection or where there is a Wifi hot-spot (RV Parks, Coffee-shops, McDonald restaurants, etc.) with sufficient bandwidth, you can not only check you email and surf the web with your laptop, you can talk to anyone in the US & Canada free, and Internationally also (at a small per/minute fee... Mexico is 2 cents/minute). If you are IN Mexico or another International country you can call "back" to the US or Canada free (but would have to pay the International fee/call minute if you wanted to call someone within the country you were visiting... unless of course they have a vonage-like phone).
I have had the product since this past Fall. At my home, with high-speed Internet, it works flawlessly and has as good or better sound quality as my Vonage-like service. I recently took a 6-week road trip in the trailer to Florida (warm there, cold here in Colorado!). On the way down I stayed over-night in several places that had Wifi (even the Texas Travel Information Centers have Wifi), and I could call home. In Florida I was mostly in State or County Parks and National Forest campground, so there was no Wifi to speak of in them. But there seemed to always be a Wifi hot-spot somewhere close (coffee shops, McDonalds, Burger King) where I could check my email and also make phone calls.
Now, I could have (more easily?) used my cellphone and had even better coverage, couldn't I? Yes, but I would have had, with my plan, roaming and long-distance charges. I did get a 'long' call from someone on my cellphone while driving and it, plus another, one cost me $65!
+ Do you have to have your computer turned on for the MagicJack to work? Yes.
+ Can I 'port' my current telephone number to MagicJack? No, at least not yet.
+ What phone number will I get? One from 'any' area code you ask for, but you don't get to choose the number.
+ Do I need a high-speed Internet connection? Yes. As with others like Vonage, one 'must' have good bandwidth to use these phones. The 'lower-speed' DSL and wireless broadband connections seem to work just fine. "If it works for 'Vonage', it will work for MagicJack". At some RV-park Wifi hot-spots, I could not use the phone, but then my laptop didn't work well there either because the hot-spot signal wasn't very strong.
+ Can I use a cordless phone with it? Yes. I have even plugged it into my home-wiring and can use any phone in my house, both wireless and wired (remember, I don't have a land-line to interfere).
+ Can I "Call-Forward" from it to, say, my cell-phone? Yes. Cellphone charges, if any on your plan, will apply.
+ Does it support E-911? Yes.
+ Does it support FAX? Not to my knowledge.
+ Can I use it somewhere other than the US? Yes, anywhere in the world where there is a high-speed Internet connection.
+ Can I get a Canadian number? Not yet, but Canadian Area Codes will be available 'soon'.
+ Does it have Voicemail? Yes.
+ How is Customer Service? Don't know. Haven't had to use it! There is an on-line trouble-shooting function and an on-line Tech-Chat service available.
+ Is it hard to install? Not unless you often have trouble plugging in a lamp cord. :>
+ Can I buy it cheaper than $39.95 initially? Yes, there are a ton of them on Ebay that you can bid on. Some even offer International Shipping.
So, I'm happy. I'll continue to use it daily and then I may discontinue my other 'costly' vonage-like service. At a minimum, I'll bring it with me to Mexico the next time I come rather than lugging my ViaTalk router/adapter down.
(Again, sorry this was so long...)
(This post was edited by hunter on Mar 14, 2008, 4:55 AM)