Is magicJack a Good Replacement For a Senior’s Home Phone Line?

Product Review

Are you a skeptic of commercials on TV selling consumer products?  We are too but after a substantial number of SHN reader inquiries, we bought a magicJack adapter to test out if it works as a home phone replacement.  As homeowners are examining every expense, the cost savings offered by magicJack’s commercials almost fall into the “too good to be true” category.


The service costs $40 for the device and the first year and $20 per year after the initial term.  The phone’s software works with all supported versions of Microsoft Windows and Mac software that runs on Intel’s microprocessors (think new Macs).  The only call restrictions for the base plan is that numbers must be in the United States, Canada or Puerto Rico.  The device can be used on multiple computers including laptop computers and can be used on the computer using magicJack’s software or by utilizing existing handsets, both wired and cordless.

The device is a Universal Serial Bus (USB) adapter that goes into a computer with that allows users to make calls over the Internet (also known as Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP)) using an existing home phone.  The old home phone line plugs into the USB adapter and uses the existing phone hardware.  There are no CD-ROMs or downloads necessary, the magicJack software resides inside the USB device and installs on each PC or Mac it is plugged into.

Some of the negatives of magicJack:

  • Need for Internet connectivity. No Internet, No Service.
  • You get a new phone number.  The company states they are working toward number portability in the near future.  If you desire a local number in your local area code, an additional fee applies.
  • 911 Registry.  Similar to other VOIP services, the device must be registered in the area for compatibility with 911 services.
  • Not truly “Senior Friendly”.  USB devices are small and phone lines are tiny, not a good mix for young or old hands for that matter.  Once the system is installed and trained, the learning curve is pretty quick.

When reviewing our bill from a national cable company, our itemized VOIP cost on a monthly basis was $50 per month separate and above from our Internet access costs.  Looking at it from purely a dollars and sense perspective, magicJack’s cost savings paid for themselves within the first 60 days of making the switch.

The sound quality seemed fine for everyday conversation and interviews we conducted over the line and nobody could tell a difference when asked whether we sounded different if calling from a cell phone versus the magicJack service.

If you can get past the drawback above, magicJack works, sounds good and saves money.