netTALK vs magicJack: The winner is…
We all can agree on the following fact: Before the advent of the internet, voip (Voice Over Internet Protocol), magicJack, netTALK, and the like, our phone bills were outrageously exorbitant. Local and long distance calls used to cost an arm and a leg.
Why? Blame it on monopolies or quasi-monopolies. There were only a handful of players in the telecommunications industry. The law of supply and demand was disproportionately tilted in favor of the behemoth telecommunications companies.
That was then, this is now. That was the disease. The cure? A technological response in the form of magicJack, netTALK, VOIP (phone calls are routed cheaply over the internet)- to name just a few-, to “democratize” our phone bills and break the backs of these monopolies (shall we say dictatorship?).
magicJack is, according to wikipedia, “a device that plugs into a USB port on the user’s computer, and uses a standard RJ-11 phone jack into which any standard phone can be plugged.“
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know by now that magicJack is a VOIP device that enables you to make and receive cheap phone calls (local and long distance) via the internet for a ridiculously low annual fee. Its success has been so huge that its competitor, netTALK, was not far behind in magicJack‘s rear view mirror. The competition is fierce.
By now, you probably wonder: What is netTALK? netTALK is a similar device to magicJack, which enables callers to make outgoing and receive incoming calls (local and long distance) for a relatively low annual cost.
netTALK comes with additional or extra cutting edge features to stamp out or crush the competition. In other words, netTALK capitalizes on its competitor’s technological shortcomings and single-layered customer service by respectively adding more features and multi-layered (for redundancy’s sake) customer service.
By humanizing customer service (yes indeed, you can talk to a live human being, not just chat on the internet), netTALK raises the customer service bar, hence edges the PR game by appearing more costumer friendly than its competitor.
Update: Live phone customer service has been dehumanized. Apparently, a customer can no longer converse with a live human being (The soothing voice of a human being at the other end of the line has been silenced by netTALK). This task has been downgraded to a 24/7 live chat customer service.
Update: Live phone customer service has been restored, in addition to live chat, email, and self-help, as per netTALK. Check the Contact page.
See table below (netTALK vs magicJack) to compare and contrast features.
Customer Assistance: magicJack has a toll free number which redirects the customer to its online Tech Chat, and a non-toll free number for billing issues.
Prority Call Forwarding: Calls are forwarded to more than one telephone number by order of priority set by netTALK customers.
Call Forwarding: Calls are forwarded to a single telephone number predetermined by magicJack customer.
* Both companies (netTALK & magicJack) offer free conference calling.
* Both companies offer extensive knowledgebase info for your product-related queries.
* Although a computer is not required to make and receive calls with netTALK DUO (thanks to modem/router port), it (netTALK DUO) can still be used with a computer for inbound and outbound calls.
**Live Tech Support: netTALK provides Live Tech Support by phone and online.
Update: Live customer service by phone is apparently no longer available.
Update: Live customer service by phone is available again, according to netTALK.
** Live Tech Support: magicJack provides Live Tech Support online only.
** International Calling: Free netTALK-to-netTALK and magicJack-to-magicJack calls. International rates apply. View rates before calling.
** Canadian call plan is higher.
Computer Required: The beauty of netTALK lies in its versatility and ability to make calls from either a computer, or straight from a modem/router (your computer needs not be ON), which in the short and long run saves money in energy consumption, and reduces grid load.
With respect to magicJack, the only (mandatory) option for phone calls (inbound and outbound) is a computer ON 24/7 (energy drain, energy vampire, energy ghost, phantom load, call it whatever you want).
Despite the competitive edge (feature-wise) of one brand over the other, an undeniable fact remains: both devices depend on and require 24/7 electricity to function (except for call forward). In the event of a power outage, phone service is curtailed.
Which is why we strongly advise call forwarding to your charged cell phone or a landline. Also readworthy is our upcoming article: How to power your VOIP and Cell Pones, blackout or not. You can read it now!
♦♦♦♦♦ Refers to features common to both magicJack and netTALK DUO (free call to US and Canada, free 411, free conference call, etc.)
♦♦♦♦♦ Refers to features common to both netTALK DUO and magicJack (call waiting, three-way calling, free directory assistance, knowledgebase, etc.)
♦♦♦♦♦ Refers to features exclusive to netTALK DUO (videophone, fax friendly, modem/router call enable.- no computer required, and priority call forwarding)
As it stands now, the outcome of the comparison favors netTALK DUO (extra features). Our guess is, however, magicJack is not going to take it lying down, and is probably busy at the drawing board tweaking and coding to amount a vigorous technological response to avenge this affront, to salvage and restore its reputation.
magicJack is, after all, a leader and pioneer in affordable phone services to the masses. As such, magicJack should have in its competitive arsenal more than one weapon (low price) to meet (equal footing) or exceed the competition’s challenge. (we have no inside information on or knowledge of the matter, just a hunch!)
What are the benefits and drawbacks of these two telephonic devices?
- Inexpensive.- Both telephonic devices (netTALK DUO and magicJack) and phone services are inexpensive. Look up table below.
** Phone Bill paid annually in advance. A bargain!
*** Read fine prints for definition of “Unlimited Calls”.
The difference in price ($30.00) may be attributed to the extra features (videophone, call via modem/router’s ethernet switch port, and fax friendly) and live customer service (by phone and online) offered by netTALK. The old adage, according to which you get what you pay for, applies.
- Reduced cell phone radiation exposure.- Whether cell phone radiation is harmful or not, whether there is scientific consensus on the harmful effect of radiofrequency radiation or electromagnetic fields (saferphonezone.com) or not, you owe it to yourself to shield your person from cell phone radiation whenever possible. So, when a phone call is received whether directly or forwarded to your cell phone, you can hang up and return the call, using your netTALK DUO or magicJack‘s telephone handset, instead of cell phone; hence shielding yourself from or reducing exposure to cell phone radiation.
- Cell phone number privacy.- If you don’t want to disclose your cell phone number, have all calls to netTALK or magicJack public number forwarded to your private cell phone number (telephonic devices –NT* or MJ*– need not be ON to receive and forward call to cell phone). Return calls from your nettalk DUO or magicJack‘s handset, or from cell phone with headset on, using *67 before dialed number, to keep your cell phone number private and anonymous. However, bear in mind that most recipients do not accept anonymous calls.
- Number Portability.- You can have the same NT or MJ number and area code or any area code (internet- based), regardless of your geographical location. You can change your cell phone or landline number, as long you keep the same netTALK or magicJack number, just have all calls to NT or MJ forwarded to your new cell phone or landline number. You only give out one number: NT‘s or MJ‘s number
- Portability.- Both telephonic devices sport sleek, compact, outright sexy designs. Easy to travel with.
Other ways to save money:
- From time to time, cell phone companies, in an attempt to drum up more business, offer cheaper plans to new customers (unlimited text, talk and web browsing for less). You, as an established customer, are not eligible for those sweet heart plans, unless you change your old cell phone number to a new one. So, if the only number you give out is your NT or MJ number, you can go ahead and switch your cell phone number to take advantage of the sweet heart deal, without the need to notify everybody of your new cell phone number; for or since all call to NT or MJ number will be forwarded to your new cell phone number after you set it up.
- If you have friends and family overseas (with high speed internet access), keeping in touch with them by phone, on a regular basis, can cost a small fortune. A netTALK DUO or magicJack device, as a present, (provided that high speed internet is accessible), may turn out to be a mutually beneficial fantastic gift. All your international calls (outgoing and incoming) will be treated as local calls- saving you a bundle in the process, and they’ll be forever grateful to you in return. Read the fine prints for restrictions and limitations.
* NT: netTALK; * MJ: magicJack
- NT: No computer or modem/router means no phone call (inbound or outbound; except for call forward)
- MJ: No computer translates into no call (incoming or outgoing; except for call forward)
- No electricity or internet access means phone service interruption. Read: How to have electricity for your VOIP Phone, power outage or not.
- Neither device works with satellite internet or dial-up (due to “speed slower than cable, DSL, and other high speed connections”; a minimum bandwidth upload speed of 128kb/s is required for the devices to work) but does function with WIFI Wireless, WiMax, FiOS Broadband, High-Speed Internet Cable, and Internet DSL.
Our rating of both devices (based on personal experience)
Explanation of rating
- netTALK offers the same features as MJ ( conference calling, call waiting, free directory assistance, knowledgebase, etc.) in addition to modem/router ethernet switch port option to make and receive call without a computer, videophone and fax friendly.
- ***magicJack offers customer service online only (chat and remote computer access for technical support).
- magicJack sports the same features as NT (30-day money back, call plan, international calling, call forwarding, etc.) minus videophone, modem/router Ethernet switch port call-enabled option, and fax friendly.
- netTALK: We were able to make and receive calls from netTALK DUO plugged into modem/router’s Ethernet switch port. So, I gladly issue this passing grade (P).
- Both products (NT & MJ) are affordably priced. Now just about anyone, with DSL or High Speed Internet access, can afford phone service without monthly bills. Another passing grade (P) to both companies.
- Despite both companies’ best effort, they failed miserably at getting the telephonic devices to work with my computer (laptop A Windows XP DSL). I’ ll give the benefit of doubt to both devices (assuming that they are defect-free) and blame my computer.
With respect to MJ, I was able to initiate a call and hear the recipient with background echoes, but s/he could not hear me. As a customer (the customer is always right!), I am left with no choice but to issue an F (Fail), or blame the computer again.
As for NT, the downloaded software (driver) could not recognize or acknowledge the netTALK DUO‘s presence when inserted into the usb port. We even uninstalled the alleged offending firewall software (allegedly blamed for telephonic device-software interface failure), to no avail. So, we am sorry to issue an (F) on that account (or blame computer A Windows XP again).
However, the netTALK DUO was tested on another computer’s USB port (laptop B Windows 7 DSL), it passed (P) the test with flying colors. In the interest of full disclosure, we have not tested magicJack on the same computer (laptop B Windows 7), therefore do not know what the outcome might have been.
So, in the interest of fairness, we are going to assume, a magicJack test, had it taken place on the same computer (laptop B), would have yielded a result similar to that of netTALK DUO, i.e. passed (P). So, let us, in the name of fairness and equity, extrapolate and issue a passing grade (P) to magicJack, on that account.
The aim of the (F) rating is not to disparage or portray either product in a negative light, but rather to highlight the outcome of our experience.
You, as a customer, your experience with either product may vary or differ from, or may be similar to ours. In either case, leave me a comment.
Third party rating (other customers)
While our rate of success with netTALK DUO is 50% (ability to call from modem/router Ethernet switch port; inability to call from laptop A Windows XP), and rate of failure with magicJack 100% (inability to successfully complete initiated call from laptop A‘s usb port Windows XP), the outcome of other customers’ experiment with both devices (netTALK DUO & magicJack) is 100% successful (objectively and independently verified). The 100% rate of success is achieved, using desktops (to our knowledge), not laptops.
If anybody’s experience with those 2 products differs from or concurs with the preceding outcome, please let us know by leaving a comment.
The inference that can be drawn from the above experiment is, if either product fails to work on computer A’s usb port, try another computer B.
In light of the above rants and raves (your opinion) about the benefits and drawbacks of these two devices, would we recommend either or both?
You bet we would, with one caveat emptor: Take advantage of their 30-day money back policy. If they (netTALK DUO or magicJack) fail to live up to your expectations, return them for a full and prompt refund within 30 days.
We’ve done all the heavy lifting, the dirty work of painstakingly comparing and contrasting the two products’ features (NT vs MJ) and their company’s respective customer service policy, praising the pros and blaming the cons. Every attempt to be impartial, even-handed, disinterested, fair and balanced, as humanly as possible, has been made along the process. Having read the article thoroughly, which of the 2 (netTALK vs magicJack) is, in your view or opinion, the winner?
netTALK vs magicJack: The winner is…
Well,… you decide. The decision to pick a winner is left up to your acute sense of discernment.
For the latest news and updates on the netTALK vs magicJack: The winner is… saga, please read magicJack Plus vs netTALK Duo: The Rematch
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