Talk is cheap with magicJackGo

       By Harold Glicken


Let’s pretend you’re visiting England and you want to call home and relate to your mate every boring detail of your trip. Likely she’ll lay the phone gently on the table, let you babble on and go about her business. No matter. Why, the British Museum alone is worth three hours of chatting into the ozone. Even at a few pence a minute, you’re likely to rack up pounds of talk time, especially from a hotel room. But there is a better way, and it’s not to skip calling.

The better way is magicJackGo, a device you can slip into a shirt pocket and take with you to the four corners of the globe.


When you get the device, you register to get a local phone number. I chose the  424 area code, since it encompasses Beverly Hills, which is sort of (in my dreams) near the area where I live.


You plug the magicJackGo into a USB port on your laptop computer, call up a virtual keypad and dial home. If your PC doesn't have a mic, you need to supply your own.


Your long-suffering mate sees the 424 number and reluctantly picks up.


What’s going on here? Even though you’re thousands of miles away, magicJack thinks you’re still in the 424 area code, because that’s the phone number assigned to it. No toll charges for these calls, thank you very much. And, should your wife want to call you, she dials the 424 number, and the call is free for her, too. Who said talk isn’t cheap?


 How cheap? The device and one year of service costs $60. That compares with the $40 a month I pay for my Time Warner phone service, and $120 a month I pay for my cell phone service, which, by the way, AT&T would charge outrageous amounts for international calls. That $60 includes unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada. But it gets even better.      

If you take your U.S.-based cell phone with you, you can download the magicJack app and make free calls to just about any number on the globe if both your call recipient and you have the magicJackGo. 

Now then, suppose you’re not a world traveler, and you just want phone service at your home or business. MagicJack has you covered there, too. Just plug it into a phone and a cable router with the included Ethernet cable, and you have phone service. For as little as $20 on a five-year plan, you get 911, conferencing, voice mail that includes an email with an audio file you can play, directory assistance, call forwarding and a seat on the next space shuttle.


It also works fine with fax machines. I have two magicJacks, one for my fax machine and one for my work number. If I wanted to cut the cord for my cable phone service, I could get my current number ported over for $10. Vanity numbers, such as “424-IBoring” cost another $10.


There are some minor downsides to the magicJackGo. While call quality is good if you have high-speed Internet service, if you’re on a cheapie plan with your cable provider, your calls can sound as if you’re in a barrel, in order for the app to work on the road, it has to be open at all times. Otherwise, incoming calls go directly into voice mail. And if your PC doesn’t have a built-in microphone, you have to buy one. If you’re making international calls, and your recipient doesn’t have a magicJackGo,  expect to pay anywhere from 2 cents a minute to Mexico to $2.51 a minute to Antarctica.


McMurdo, here I come.

London calling