My home phone has been VOIP for 4 years or so now (That's Voice Over Internet Protocol) because it's MUCH, MUCH cheaper than a regular land line.
I had a regular land line through Qwest... with no long distance, you understand... I needed it until recently for medical telemetry and VOIP couldn't handle it. When that need went away, I got rid of the land line saving $35 or so per month as a result.... and for $5 a month more, CenturyLink bumped my DSL speed up to 12 meg from 5.... so now I have much faster internet and I'm clearing about $30 a month... and that adds up.
Now, like many families, everyone here has a cell. So, with the exception of a fax machine and a back up, there's really no reason to have a home line. As a result (and still needing my fax line) I started looking around and I discovered this Magic Jack Plus (Of course, the commercials are also a little hard to miss on satellite) and this is as opposed to the Magic Jack.
The Magic Jack unit, in a word, sucked. I could never get mine to work right, so it sat there gathering dust. Even if it HAD worked right, it required a computer (or something like a computer.... there are other options out there) to be on around the clock.
Well, the Magic Jack Plus has two things going for it that the older Magic Jack unit did not:
1. It doesn't require a computer.
2. You can actually port a number to it.
The Plus only requires that it be plugged into a router. As it turns out in this age of miniaturization, the Plus actually has a CPU inside it, in a package the same size as the older units... maybe a little bigger then a small package of wooden matches.
It comes with a socket for a regular phone jack and a USB port, along with a regular network cable plug in.
When you first get it, you DO plug it into a computer via the USB port and cable (That came with it) or directly by the USB plug in extending from the unit.
You do that only long enough to go through the set up and to download any updates.
Then you have a choice: you CAN leave it plugged into your computer like the old Magic Jack, or, you can plug it directly into a router using the enclosed network cable.
Once you've set it up and plugged it into a router, then you can plug a regular phone into it and voila! you get a dial tone and you're in business.
The cost of the unit was a total of $69... but that included $20 for the year of service.
So, what I did is I kept my old VOIP provider (Viatalk.... half the cost of Vonnage with the same features, as near as I can tell) for a couple of weeks to test it out. I even tested it for using the fax line, and it worked perfectly after I changed the fax setting to "overseas service," a slower setting.
Then, for another $20, I ported my home phone number over... which took like 4 days.
It has worked like a champ, and it saves me a substantial amount of money over just about anything else available.
Further, you can plug the Plus into any router, anywhere, and have phone service to that number no matter your location.
The plus side of this is obvious: it provides a solid back up system with good call quality.
It offers many, but not all, of the usual phone features, including voice mail and the like.
Did I mention it was cheap?
The minus side is that it does not, as yet, offer the ability to easily block numbers, although calls can be, for example, forwarded through Google Voice and they can, if needed, be blocked there.
And it requires that you dial the area code, even for local calls.
But for the savings, it's a hassle I'm willing to put up with.
It may also be that my experience is at least partially because of my 12 meg line as opposed to the 5 meg or slower lines I've had in the past.
You get 30 days to check it out, and in my case, it pays for itself after about 3 months or so.
I am not affiliated with nor do I have anything to do with the companies involved in Magic Jack or any other phone system, in case anyone is wondering.
Cruise around the net and check it out. In this case, it has worked precisely as advertised. Give it a shot, and it might save you a few bucks, particularly if you have a fast internet connection.