[SATLUG] $200 Laptops Break a Business Model

ed horned0wl93 at gmail.com
Mon Jan 26 11:22:26 CST 2009

Isn't this why the gods invented Skype?


Henry Pugsley wrote:
> On Mon, Jan 26, 2009 at 8:44 AM, Borries Demeler
> <demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu> wrote:
>> Just wanted to share a couple of items with this group:
>> 1st item:
>> I recently ordered a MagicJack - anyone knows about this? For $39.95 +
>> s/h you get a little usb plugin device that at the other end allows you to
>> plug in your home phone. If you run Windows or Mac OSX and have broadband,
>> this allows you to make/get unlimited calling in the US, Canada and
>> Puerto Rico.  There is a $19.95 yearly charge for this service (first
>> year is included in the $39.95). It includes voicemail, a local number,
>> and caller ID. I run the software on an XP image running under VMWare on
>> my linux laptop. If you set up your network correctly, it works great,
>> sound quality is very good, even on international calls (for which you
>> have to pay, but only very little). You can also use a headset instead of the
>> phone. They are working on a Linux driver, but no ETA yet. The concept and
>> cost is the best VOIP solution I have found, so now I want to get rid of
>> my landline and replace it with this MJ device. I did have several startup
>> difficulties, which were all resolved with the help of their online chat
>> help, but it was tedious and time consuming. The problem was the original
>> number didn't work for incoming calls, they changed my number, now it works
>> great. One word of caution: They chat help is pretty incompetent, until you
>> get elevated high enough in their hirarchy.
> This sounds kind of shady to me .. I think someone else posted on the
> list about the ad-driven nature of this device.  A quick serach for
> "magic jack eula" turns up this scary little tidbit:
> "You also understand and agree that use of the magicJack device and
> Software will include advertisements and that these advertisements are
> necessary for the magicJack device to work ... Our computers may
> analyze the phone numbers you call in order to improve the relevance
> of the ads."  (http://www.magicjack.com/tos/)
> Microsoft could learn  from these guys.  Not only is it ad-driven (or
> will be shortly), they tell you up front that they WILL spy on you to
> keep the service running.  I imagine tampering with the software to
> block the adware/spyware portion will result in deactivation of your
> account.  These guys aren't maintaining infrastructure and a help
> center on $19.95/year per subscriber without some additional means of
> income (i.e. ads and marketing data).  I also found some other
> complaints regarding customer service (or lack of) and the inability
> to make simple changes to your account in a timely manner (like e911
> dialing).  Their ToS even states that they are not required to provide
> 911 dialing and therefore it is a "best efforts" feature.  Thanks
> guys!
> For $15-25/mo you can get better service from Vonage (Call Fwd,
> SimulRing, 3-way, fax, etc)  and actually have someone to talk to when
> things go wrong.  Oh, but $25/mo > $20/year.  Well that $20/year is
> more than $20 if you don't have a Windows or Mac machine sitting
> around.  If you buy a $200 PC and a $125 copy of Windows (student
> edition) to keep it legal, your cost for the first year is now $365 or
> $30/mo, and you have to put up with ads and spyware.
> Sorry for the negative rant, but most things that sound too good to be
> true normally are :)
> -Henry

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