Magic Jack and the Elephant

Magic Jack is a No,No

  1. First look at the Magic Jack website infomercial a….

  2. Next look at a user rip off report at…

I do agree that “most” of his complains are dumb – especially to someone knowledgeable of computers. He appears to have replaced his original phone system with “Magic Jack”, which is a “bad idea”. It’s an addition – not a substitute. I run Skype on my computer, but I also have a cell phone, and ATT land base phones. But there is a couple points he did make:

  1. The company did mention a 30-day money back guarantee. This user complains his credit card was charged after 15 days. It would be interesting to see how this guarantee is worded.

  2. While I agree that technology support is not needed for so cheap a price, a central telephone number and physical company address will do much to give the “illusion of legitimacy”. If they do a large amount of business, they can certainly afford this. Even though I use Net Flicks for DVD access, it’s nice to be able to contact a customer representative for basic questions. I’m on the $5 a month plan.

When I posed the question on Linkedin regarding Magic Jack, there were concerns about poor quality, dropped calls and induced advertising. Now let me translate how it works into plain English:

  1. Magic Jack is a USB read-only stick memory. Inside is the core operating system, which Magic Jack loads. There’s a primitive USB sound adapter included. If you plug this “magic stick” into your USB port, it installs the VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) software.

  2. It functions similar to Vonage. The only difference is where the software is running. For Vonage, it’s in a gateway/gizmo box. For Magic Jack, it runs in the computer’s memory.

  3. Now we have something called packets. They are either on the Ethernet computer side (Magic Jack), or the LAN side (Vonage and other VoIP providers). Packets reach POTS (plain old telephone service) gateways at the prospective provider company, and are passed on to POTS services. Magic Jack is cheap because of the cheap termination rates they receive from POTS service providers.

  4. Skype differs in that it doesn’t use SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) for communications. Instead they had a proprietary protocol.

A call to Vonage answered my question, on who converts between VoIP and POTS – it’s the receiving phone company that translated VoIP into POTS.

I endorse Skype and Vonage – not Magic Jack.

Let’s Finish with a Poem

This is a famous poem, except that I substituted the word “philosophic” instead of “theologic”. Can mankind discover philosophical truth by uncovering what is not true? It reminds me of the infinite monkey theorem at…. It states, “that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.” So if everyone states what is not true – not real – given an infinite amount of time and randomness, we will uncover what is true. It reminds me of the novel The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse (…). Now I present Six Blind Men and the ElephantJohn Godfrey Saxe‘s (1816-1887) version of the famous Indian legend.

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.


The First approach’d the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

“God bless me! but the Elephant

Is very like a wall!”


The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried, -“Ho! What have we here?

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me ’tis mighty clear

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a spear!”


The Third approached the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

“I see,” quote he, “the Elephant

Is very like a snake!”


The Fourth reached out his eager hand,

And felt about the knee.

“What most this wondrous beast is like

Is mighty plain,” quote he,

“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant

Is very like a tree!”


The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: “E’en the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact, who can,

This marvel of an Elephant

Is very like a fan!”


The Sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,

Then, seizing on the swinging tail

That fell within his scope,

“I see,” quote he, “the Elephant

Is very like a rope!”


And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!




So oft in philosophic wars,

The disputants, I ween,

Rail on in utter ignorance

Of what each other mean,

And prate about an Elephant

Not one of them has seen!


Randy Kemp



4 thoughts on “Magic Jack and the Elephant

  1. After I wrote this article, I found a comparison of Skype vs Magic Jack at

  2. I bought a MAGIC JACK about a month ago to replace a second phone line.

    It works exactly as advertised. I expect to save about $40 a month by dropping the second line.

    1. It will work for some. However, since it installs software on a PC, I feel folks make better choices with some established PC VOIP solution (like Skype or newcomer Gizmo5), or a VOIP phone solution (like Vonage).

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