My new magicJack
Back in December, my friend Stan sent me an e-mail about a new device called magicJack. Stan is almost as big a gadget freak as I am and knew I would like this thing. Their web site is cheesy and looks like they are selling newer, better, sharper Ginzu knives, but the product works. The device is two or three times larger than a thumb drive and plugs in to your computer's USB port. It has an RJ-11 phone jack on the other side. It allows you to make free phone calls anywhere in the U.S.
I ordered one and tried it out while I was in Canada. You plug it in and it automatically installs and then updates their software (it has a small amount of storage with their software on it.) The software took a few minutes to install and then update; once I did that I then had to configure the software. It assigned me a telephone number (I selected the area code - none in Hawaii, though) and I was good to go.
I plugged in a regular telephone to this device, got a dial-tone and dialed out. When I tested it here in Hawaii, it performed great about 80% of the time. Sometimes there was some "white outs" in the conversation; I am assuming this is must lost VOIP packets or something. This only happened while I was in Hawaii. When I was in Canada it worked great.
Based on some reviews I read, their customer service leaves something to be desired and they need to fire their Web site designer, but the device does work as advertised. I'm off on an overseas trip this next week so I'm going to see how well it works while I am traveling to Asia where I'm sure the bandwidth will not be as good.