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Technological evolution in network infrastructures, ever-increasing demand for mobile & wireless communication services and high price performance ratio has led to sustained growth of VoIP services in corporate and individual consumer segments. Add to it, the rise in bring your own device (BYOD) trend as well as diversification of telecommunication service providers – it isn’t difficult to fathom why VoIP is the chosen option for several industries. MagicJack has quickly grown to be the top solution in this category. In little over half-a-decade, they have outrun several critics and admittedly imperfect customer service model to become a highly popular VoIP solution. However, the competition between internet service providers and telecom companies to offer the better solution has spawned capable competitors like Basic Talk, armed with bundle services to stand out in a crowded market space.
Loyal customers would always side with their product of choice, but beyond the basic services, which are almost an ‘expected’ part of the deal we dig deeper to find out who is the best value for money.
Basic Talk vs magicJack
With functionality being the biggest draw, both companies start as equals. They both use VoIP adapters to provide residential VoIP calling services nationwide with a 30-day free money-back guarantee trial.
BasicTalk offers several different calling plans, and their big draw is the adapter for ‘free’. It has repeatedly gone ahead and sold on that marketing line with a $70 saving over MJ. However, there is where we found the math to be shady. Even the most basic calling plans from Basic Talk are $9.99/mo and that amounts to $119.88 in 12 months. By contrast MJ Plus 2014 comes alive for $39.95 with unlimited domestic and long distance calling for free (for the first 6 months).
The numbers further skew towards MagicJack if you factor that they have three devices now: the comparison above was with the third generation MagicJack. The Go device can be had for $59.95 for an entire year of free calls and an additional $10 in free credit. Their package also includes a free number port for life. Ironically, its nearly $70 savings for MagicJack over a year!
That isn’t all, while the Basic Talk pricing plan remains the same $9.99/month, which amounts to nearly $120 per year – MagicJack continues to get more budget friendly, coming in at $35 for the second year (annual plan) and a total of just under $160 for six years of service including the device purchase (a 5 year plan can be had for just $99.75 after your first year is up). No contest!
BasicTalk does have a reasonable technology base to work on. With retail giants Wal-Mart and erstwhile telecom leaders Vonage teaming up for the service, they don’t require a computer or software to be installed, the device can be registered at the Basic Talk website and you’re ready to go. MJ Plus 2014 and MagicJack GO market a ‘computer less’ install which makes them on an even playing field here. Their original device however, needs the computer to make any calls. These days consumers are mostly equipped with portable devices such as iPads, tablets, Amazon Kindle or smartphones so the original MJ device is pretty much out of the question and mostly out of circulation anyway. However MagicJack does have a history of installation issues, although the installation process has been greatly simplified as of their newest devices. All in all Basic Talk still comes away with a marginal edge in this department based mainly on MJ’s history of issues.
One of the reasons for the huge popularity of the MJ line is their portability. Whether you travel for business, have just moved residence or are visiting someone – you never lose your number and connectivity. Compare that with the Basic Talk unit, which is nearly three-fourths the size of any regular wireless modem. Suffice to say, Basic Talk didn’t exactly think portability through.
Another aspect where MJ stays ahead of competition is its international connectivity. Basic Talk has no international options. The original Vonage plans were $9.99/ month for unlimited calls to 60 international locations. However, after first three months, the monthly charges jumped dramatically to $27/month. By contrast, Magicjack has pay-per-call options with low rates for a lot of different countries, with free device-to-device outgoing international calls to any unit worldwide. Plus, it has free ‘Unlimited Local and Long Distance Calling’ options for Canada. Sure it’s not very mature, but tech observers agree that MagicJack has certainly done enough spadework to build on its services for future generation of devices.
The original device wasn’t completely devoid of white noise. Given its remarkably low price, customers were tolerant. However, the latest chipsets have improved that out of sight. On the other hand, audio quality was one reason Vonage was the clear favorite of discerning consumers, but with a cheaper product aimed at wider customer access, the technology needed to be sufficiently watered down to meet manufacturing cost demands. The result is fairly comparable call quality with Basic Talk still a shade ahead – unless you are expecting HD sound quality for a low-cost subscription.
Okay, so these are probably just brownie points, but they do offer two very handy features:
Free conference calling feature – available on the latest GO adapter
A free mobile app, magicApp (formerly called Talk Free) which can take your phone virtually anywhere your smartphone (although not yet available on BlackBerry or Windows OS phones) can go, is available on each of its line of devices from the Plus onward.
Neither of these may be an absolute necessity for regular residential VoIP users. However, these devices are increasingly becoming favorites for commercial and business consumers, and they certainly appreciate these features.
2014 has seen some prominent investment and improved results in terms of customer service for MagicJack. It is still not always easily accessible, but vastly improved from previous seasons. Basic Talk is definitely better on that count.
Vonage has certainly pushed MJ with its Basic Talk service, but when it comes to low cost VoIP solutions, MagicJack still leads by some margin. Even if we disregard the dollar value returns (which is significant, by the way!), Magic Jack is much more portable, comparable on installation aspects, offers mobile-friendly features, and only marginally lagging in terms of sound quality and customer service. Factor in the international calling features, conference calling features and technological promise of Wi-Fi. The verdict is overwhelmingly in favor of MagicJack, and the battle wouldn’t even be on equal terms until Basic Talk can match the pricing plans of MagicJack.
Other VoIP Comparison Post
I love comparing various VoIP services and helping people to find the best deal among the best VoIP companies. Read my links below to see comparison of the various big VoIP providers!
Vonage or magicJack – I was surprised by the winner and you may be too!
Ooma or magic Jack – These are two of the biggest VoIP companies in the world and I just had to compare them!
Which is better magicJack or NetTalk? – magicJack was first and NetTalk came second, essentially copying magicJack, but at a higher cost.
*Check out all of our VoIP comparisons for more info.