magicJack What's the catch?

Is this thing for real? I suspect maybe it is, but I wonder what the catch is? Are there hidden charges, or is there the potential problem of your computer lagging and affecting the call? (I remember using YM’s phone feature years ago when it was free to talk to my parents, and I recall that “lag” was a problem sometimes.) Does anyone know? I was watching some late night TV, and I saw this commercial. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore, so this was the first time I’d heard of the product. I’m putting this in GQ, but if you think it belongs in IMHO I won’t argue.

Well, it’s a VOIP system, so it’ll work pretty much like the rest of them do in terms of call quality. It doesn’t appear to be any different than the others, except in terms of price. Perhaps someone calling you gets a hefty bill, or if you try to call some place outside the US and Canada, you wind up paying big bucks.

The review from Laptop magazine is favorable. Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you for the replies. So, it looks like a viable option for those who want a phone “just in case” but can’t afford the phone company’s prices.

Part of the catch is that while you are using the system, it displays ads on your computer screen. And in the user agreement, you promise not to block them. So, like in broadcast TV & radio, you are a body supplied to the advertiser – that’s partly how they earn enough to do this.

Aha! I knew there was a catch somewhere! Hmmm, but can you dim or turn off your computer monitor I wonder? At the least you could face away from it I guess.

Well, the buttons you use to dial are on the screen, right next to this ad. You need to see them. (But I think you can use the dial on the phone, with some phones.)

You can indeed turn away from the screen after dialing, just like people mute the TV or go to the kitchen when commercials come on.

Or you can learn to ignore them – that seems to be happening automatically on the internet. People have become so trained that flashy, colorful stuff on a website is an ad that they just look right past it without really seeing it. That’s becoming an issue for web designers – people ignore anything that looks too ‘ad-like’.

Our local library website had a big, flashy button right on the top of the main page to connect to ‘Catalog Search’, since that was the most common goal for viewers. But people kept contacting them, because they couldn’t find that function. They were scanning down the list of options on the left side, and just not seeing the big button right above that list. It looked too ad-like, and so people were just ignoring it.

I suspect that people who use the MagicJack regularly will soon train themself not to see the ads at all. It’s much easier to ignore an internet ad than one on TV.

Unless they are uber loud, and strobelight flashy. :wink: Of course, that would interrupt the conversation, and they’d lose customers.