Anyone who knows me very well knows that I love anything “techie.” I’ve been into computers since 1983, the early internet since 1992, website design about 1993, Pocket Mail devices (which worked with pay phones and an 800 number), internet by cellphone, very early digital cameras (I’ve had five or six camera upgrades), GPS for road travel, wireless internet for our home internet service and most recently for our home phone we’ve subscribed to VoIP phone service (phone service through the internet). We’ve tried two services (Speednet and now Vonage – Vonage has lots more features).
With all these high-tech gadgets, it doesn’t mean that I’m good at techie stuff, but I do love electronics. I finally have a reliable wireless network installed in my house in Michigan as well as an identical system in our Florida condo (with a wireless print server both places).
We really like our most recent VoIP phone service through Vonage. It’s feature-loaded and fairly inexpensive. For about $24.95 we get a month’s service. We’ve added on a virtual phone, which gives us a Florida phone line but that adds $4.95 monthly to our bill. There are also a few add-on charges. Our phone bills have been totaling $37.80 for unlimited 24/7 phone calling availability including 911 service.
Today I had intended to start a new add-on service with Vonage called a “soft phone.” My plan was to intermittently start-up a “soft phone,” which would work through my laptop computer. This would leave the Vonage system with John for his use in Michigan, but I’d have the “soft phone” for my trips to Florida (when I fly down alone). That was my plan.
About a month ago, I called Vonage to educate myself about a “soft phone” and I was told that there are no activation nor deactivation charges with that service so I could start and stop it
Today, while I was going through the sign-up to get the “soft phone,” I came to the final “bill” and discovered that Vonage was about to tack on a $9.99 activation charge in addition to the $9.99 monthly fee (for 500 monthly minutes). The only way I could avoid continual $9.99 activation charges would be to keep the service going with no breaks. Even if I’d substituted this service for the virtual phone, it would have been fairly pricey for 12 months at $9.99 per month plus activation. I would probably also be charged a deactivation fee.
My best laid plans just weren’t going to work.
But I recalled that I had seen a VoIP device when I was checking out VoIP soft phone prices. It’s called “magicJack” and it costs $39.95 for the device and a year’s service with a phone number in the many area codes, including the area code of our choice: 813. In January, magicJack won the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice of the year award.
This tiny thumb sized device plugs into your computer’s USB port providing a standard house phone jack. It’ll be clearer service than would have been available with a “soft phone,” (more equivalent to the Vonage or “standard” service). You plug in a standard house phone or wireless house phone system (which we already have in our condo). We’ll receive a new Florida phone number but then it should continue uninterrupted from year to year.
So here’s the plan, I’ll get an 813 (Tampa area code) number from magicJack. When I’m not in Florida, I’ll forward that number to our Michigan phone. (It’ll forward even when my computer’s not on.) Folks in Sun City Center can still call us as a local number and it’ll ring into our 989-781-0849 number. But here’s the advantage: when I fly down to Florida, I can use the magicJack device to provide me with a regular house phone while John continues to use the Vonage phone at home.
I’ll need to have my computer on to receive calls but when my laptop is off, incoming calls will go to voice mail or they can be forwarded to my cell phone.
Once I know it’s working, the Vonage “virtual phone” will be canceled. We’ll still have two lines, but one will be Vonage the other will be magicJack.
The only minor problem is that I have already made up a bunch of business cards with the Vonage 813 number. It’s not really a problem because we know who we gave them to, and we’ll just have to let Sun City Center folks know that our Florida number has changed. I have time to make more before I leave for Florida on June 8th.
I’m so hopeful that this magicJack device is going to work well that I purchased five additional years of service for an additional $49.95! That means that totally, I’ll have paid $100.80 but that will cover FIVE YEARS’ unlimited usage on this magicJack (Florida) phone line (which comes to about $20 per year) and there’s a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
Wow! It can’t be much better than that!
Love techie stuff!!
If you have questions or think that you might benefit from a magicJack or Vonage system let me know and I’ll help you get signed up. I might get a finder’s fee.