The launch of Magic Jack, the extremely affordable VoIP telephone gadget, is perceived by many as a threat to existing VoIP telephone networks such as Skype or Vonage. If it’s really a threat or not, only time will tell. For the time being, both Magic Jack and Skype have their advantages and their drawbacks, therefore consumer opinions differ according to the importance various features has for each of them.
In terms of equipment needed and setup difficulty, Magic Jack Reviews make it sound easy. Just insert the USB stick into your computer and the rest takes care of it's self. It doesn’t need any CD or software download to make it work, as everything is included inside the gadget and the application installs itself immediately after plugging it into the USB port.
Skype is a free application which everybody with a computer and an internet connection can download and install. At the basic level, logged-in Skype users can call each other for free regardless the countries they are in when they make the call. In this variant, Skype works with a headset and a microphone or speakers, while Magic Jack can use either an ordinary phone or a headset and microphone set up. For using Skype like a telephone landline, users have to buy a special Skype phone and a phone number.
Both MagicJack and Skype need to have the computer switched on and the software running in order to be able to make or receive calls.
When it comes to features and benefits, again it depends on each consumer’s priorities. While with the paid version of Skype one can send and receive SMS text messages, Magic Jack doesn’t offer this service. On the other hand, Magic Jack can be used with any ordinary phone, while for Skype users have to purchase either a special Skype phone or an adapter for making it work with their regular phone. Both providers offer conference calling facilities, but while Magic Jack supports only three users, on Skype the maximum number of people in a conference call is nine.
In terms of costs, Magic Jack is $40 for the first year, sum that includes the gadget itself and the software, and $20 per each following year. Calls inside US and Canada are free. Outgoing international calls are charged per minute, but the fees are quite low for many countries. For instance, calls to landlines in Buenos Aires, Argentina are charged $0.033 per minute. The complete list of countries and rates is freely available on the Ymaxcorp website. Skype has several subscription plans, therefore prices may vary depending on particular situations. Domestic calls inside the U.S. cost $0.021 per minute. International calls are cheaper on Skype than on Magic Jack in some cases and more expensive in others. This is why a fair comparison isn’t always possible. However, for users who want to call mainly inside the US and Canada, Magic Jack is cheaper than Skype.
I found this Magic Jack review very helpful as well.