I just recently acquired magicJack service, another VOIP service. MagicJack provides you with a US number once you activate thus allowing to call to other US numbers as a local US phone number. Since, you get a US phone numbers, your relatives and friends in the US can call you without the cost of an international call.
So how is it different from other VOIP providers such as the industry leader Vonage and SkypeOUT/IN, well, the most blaring difference are the costs. While Vonage will charge you US$24.95/month, and SkypeOUT/IN may charge you by the usage, magicJack charges a straightforward US$19.95/year. The initial outlay for a magicJack is around US$40 which includes the magicJack USB device and the first year subscription. Currently, magicJack also offers a US$59.95 for 5 years. What you get is the magicJack device USB which on one end is USB connector and on the other a regular RJ11 jack for your phone.
MagicJack only operates on Windows and Mac, although, it has been stated by magicJack that Linux drivers were being developed there is no definite timeframe for that. Installing magicJack is very straightforward, just attach and wait for it load (takes a while, so be patient). If it is your first time, it will ask for it to be activated, choose number, blah blah blah, just follow the wizard, it's self explanatory unless you are an idiot. A simple interface will appear that will state that it is ready to accept calls. Attach your phone to the RJ11 phone jack, then dial away. To turn off, just remove the magicJack. After that, using magicJack is as simple as attaching the USB device and calling.
How is the quality? I was impressed with the magicJack, it was very clear and the person I was talking over on the other side did not know I was using the device. However, I have to inform you that the service is only as good as your internet service, because I tried it on another house with a different connection, and I did get stuttering. Now, for Vonage lovers out there, I have tell you that I also have a Vonage subscription for the past several years and the quality is comparable, again it relative to your internet connect. My point is, don't blame the VOIP device, because I believe the quality overall is very dependent on your connection and setup regardless if it was Vonage, Skype, or magicJack.
What are the cons, well, the device is not perfect, the overall built of the device does not seem to be strong, I have destroyed plenty of USB devices in my time by normal wear and tear, I think the magicJack is no different, overtime the device will just give up, don't know when, mine is still new. Another con is the fact that in order to use the magicJack, you need to have a computer running all the time. If you want to have a dedicated magicJack setup, you need a spare XP or Mac machine lying around and you have to add that to your costs. If you are Linux lover, magicJack does not love you yet. Another con, is the application pops up when a call comes in and you do get distracted from what you are doing, even though, you know that a call is coming in because the phone is ringing, duh!! Another thing, some people hate (me, I don't really mind) are the advertisements on the app, what do they expect for US$20/year, the company needs to earn also. There is also speculation that the company won't be able to sustain the low prices and eventually fold up before their 5 year contract is up, my answer to this is how much are you paying now for your phone line and/or your long distance calls, for me, since I am not in the US, using the Jack for 2 months already paid for itself in the savings in long distance calls, so the next 58 months are just frosting on my cake.
So there, these are my own personal adventure with the magicJack. Am sure there are a lot of different experiences, some good, some bad. In conclusion, I have magicJack and I am going to keep it.