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Magic Jack and Windows 7
The newest device in VoIP (voice over IP) technology is a small USB device called Magic Jack. When used with a computer connected to the internet and a home phone, a user is able to make and receive phone calls, without having to subscribe to the local or long distance phone service. The Magic Jack works by using the internet to send and receive phone calls. It's a good deal, only $39.95 for the device itself and then only $19.95 for a year service, it may actually save some money if spending it on a hefty phone bill.
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Installing a Magic Jack on a Windows 7 computer can be done in a few simple steps. First, you will of course need to purchase the device itself and, if you don't have a standard phone, you'll have to purchase that too. You will also need an internet connection from your computer.
After you have everything, connect the phone line from the phone into the Magic Jack. Then connect the Magic Jack into a USB port on your computer. Windows 7 should identify the device immediately and the Magic Jack will start. For first time use, it will begin an update and then install the software on the computer. When installation is finished - and barring no problems - a dialpad will appear on screen. If you choose, you can use the dialpad to make calls or select from contacts.
You can also use your phone to make calls. Receiving calls is also simple - when the phone rings, just answer it as you would a normal phone.
The user interface is a large dialpad, with access to any contacts you would like to add (which can also be imported from Outlook), as well as a quick listing of your favorites. At the bottom left hand side is a shortcut to your Magic Jack account and opens a new webpage when clicked. Just scroll to the bottom and click on the my account link. The My Account page has information about your account, such as phone numbers, international calling, and ordering additional Magic Jacks. This is also the place where, should you need to be away from the phone, you can forward your calls to a cell phone or another number.
To learn more, see the Magic Jack homepage.
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Pros and Cons
There are of course pros and cons for using the Magic Jack. The number one pro is of course that you're saving on monthly fees that you may incur with a regular phone line. This is especially true if using both a land line and a cell phone, which could make those fees even higher. With the Magic Jack, you can make local or long distance calling by just using your home internet service.
Where there are pros, there are most certainly cons. The one downside is the dependency on the internet, regardless of which operating system a user uses. If the internet goes down, your phone line goes down. This is especially true if you live in an area where your internet is sometimes interrupted with yearly acts of weather. Also if your computer is turned off, unless you have forwarded the number to another phone, you will not be able to receive or make any phone calls. However, you do receive free voice mail with the Magic Jack, so if you are away from the phone, someone is able to leave you a message.
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Using the Magic Jack, especially with Windows 7, is a fairly simple and easy process. On the newest Microsoft operating system, installation is pretty quick and you should be able to call and receive calls almost immediately. One of the pros is saving money, especially if paying for both land line and cell phone service; the bigger con is the internet basis for the device - if the internet goes down, Magic Jack goes down.