Among the two prominent players in the home VoIP service provider market, magicJack and NetTalk have long been competing for the same market share and customers due to both of their low cost yet excellent home phone service models as compared to the traditional telephone service providers such as AT&T, Sprint, and Qwest.
MagicJack has been in the business since 2007 with the launch of their first device and has since launched several other improved devices. NetTalk came about a after year and started launching its first product in 2009. NetTalk began selling with a marketing tag-line of “VoIP Analog Telephone System”, though it soon got hit with a lawsuit from MagicJack for a patent violation (did we say, they were ‘competing’?).
In terms of amazing call quality and ease of use, there’s little that separates them. A high speed broadband connection is the common pre-requisite for both MagicJack and NetTalk operations.
Their latest products, ‘MagicJack Go’ and ‘NetTalk DUO Wi-Fi’, were released in 2014, look suitably appealing and have been in the market from quite some time now. We attempt to see which one stands out as they both have a lot of resemblance in terms of services, technology and looks.
NetTalk Duo Wifi vs magicJack
Plans and Pricing
Device Fee: MagicJack takes a one-time fee of $59.95+taxes for the MagicJack Go device as compared to one-time fee of $64.95+taxes for the NetTalk DUO Wifi device. Both providers give free phone service for one year once you’ve made the purchase.
Pricing: Initial purchase of MagicJack comes with 30-day trial period and billing starts from 31st day. Post 1 year of free phone service, MagicJack charges $35 for each additional year and NetTalk charges $39.95 per year. MagicJack is cheaper on a per year basis and also steals the show here with their five-year plan option slashing the cost down to $19.95 per year.
Plans: Both MagicJack and NetTalk are on par for free calls made within USA and Canada. For International calling MagicJack and NetTalk both have different plans and calling rates, NetTalk does have a plan flat rate $130 annually to makes calls to 60+ countries apart from the pay-as-you-go plan whereas MagicJack provides an option for you to buy prepaid credits and also incoming device-to-device free calling for international calls.
Number Portability: MagicJack allows you to keep your current number by paying an additional fee but does not clearly list the fee. Consumers who have opted for number portability with MagicJack suggest that there is one time fee of $10 + $19.99 (number portability fee) and an annual charge of $9.99 to maintain the number (some say the annual fee does not exist so perhaps it use to and they have done away with it). Regardless the fees to port with magicJack are unclear, which is unacceptable. In case of NetTalk, there is a one-time fee of $19.95 for number portability.
Verdict: NetTalk beats MagicJack in terms of the one-time annual fee of $19.95 for number portability as compared to the confusing and unknown fees from MagicJack. NetTalk also makes further gains in terms of having more international calling options. MagicJack however, re-ups and beats NetTalk overall for plans and pricing with a cheaper device and cheaper calling plans.
Both MagicJack and NetTalk offer a device based solution with basic service and features as follows :
Caller ID, Call waiting, Voicemail, Free In-network calling and Call forwarding
Free 411 Directory Assistance
Free Phone Number
NetTalk allows free International calling from DUO to DUO device. Similarly MagicJack allows free International calling from one MagicJack number to another MagicJack number.
Unlimited free calls within US and Canada
Free conference calling (NetTalk allows over 20 people to dial in)
MagicJack has the MagicApp allowing your smartphone to answer the home calls on the go and you can also download the app and make free calls without being a MagicJack customer. The MagicApp is available on iOS and Android device to date and it hopes to be added to Blackberry and Windows phones soon. NetTalk has the Connect Talk App which allows free App-to-App and App-to-DUO calling with an option of buying TALK credits for international calls. You can’t make calls for free without having a device and plan already though so magicJack wins out here. The Connect Talk App also only works for Android devices to date but their website says that the iOS App is coming soon
With the MagicJack Go, and the NetTalk DUO there are additional attractions like:
Three way calling / Conference Bridge
Call Blocking, Call ID Blocking
Visual Voice Mail
Verdict: MagicJack Go wins again on this front with their far superior calling app. NetTalk is on par in all other areas for services and features but the free calls availability without a need to have a paid plan already simply can’t be beat and also because the NetTalk app can’t be used by iOS device users in any form yet.
Setting up MagicJack Go or NetTalk DUO Wi-Fi is quite simple. Configuration is easy with either a high speed modem, or any internet accessible device. You need to register for an account the first time you use either device. During registration you can choose your number for free (unless you are porting a number). Both devices come with fully ‘computer-less’ operation features after this one-time registration. NetTalk supports Wi-Fi use and MagicJack still doesn’t provide it with the GO device. This is unfortunate and long overdue on MagicJacks front. With the MagicJack Go it still has to be plugged into a modem/router but with the WiFi DUO you can configure it to work via your wireless Internet connection.
Verdict: The MagicJack device has all of its software pre-installed whereas the NetTalk device comes with setup guidelines to install the software. This makes MagicJack Installation quicker and easier. However, the DUO WiFi’s WiFi features makes it very attractive and ultimately allows it to win out here.
Other VoIP Comparison Post
Want to compare the large VoIP Providers? Check out my links below where I have compared other service providers.
magicJack and Vonage – Both of these are probably the most well known VoIP companies in the United State and boy the both came out as stellar!
magicJack vs. Ooma – Again two huge companies with excellent cost saving benefits!
We review, you decide: magicJack or Basic Talk – One came first the other copied it’s business plan, but with not nearly the budget hasn’t been able to match the original one.
MagicJack and NetTalk are competitors in VoIP segment and ‘customer service’ is one category where both of them lack prompt and customer friendly support services. Though NetTalks customer service has a reputation of being slightly better.
MagicJack has improved the turn-around time to address the customer queries it still lacks a toll free number for technical support. Live chat support is the only way to get the technical assistance. MagicJack does offer a toll free phone number for non-technical assistance plus the live chat support.
By contrast, online troubleshooting guide/help videos, setup guides, live chat support, email-us, toll free number are the contact points for NetTalk support services. Though they are lacking and customers have complained in the past. NetTalk offers audio video tools demonstrating installation helping to resolve any potential trouble which might come up during installation. The majority of the technical issues related to the installation can be resolved by watching and referring the information on the NetTalk website before ever calling their customer support.
Verdict: NetTalk provides better support with a toll free number and online videos for troubleshooting. MagicJack also has a very checkered past when it comes to customer service, though they have recently committed to improving customer service for the long term. NetTalk is the clear winner here, maybe MagicJack will be able to catch up eventually but we don’t see that happening any time soon.
MagicJack Go is decidedly sharper than its previous variants and offers more in terms of better audio and other services such as a much better APP that works in tandem with the device or completely independent of it for non MJ Go users. It also comes at a significantly cheaper price point on a year-to-year basis, which makes it a great deal for price conscious consumers.
NetTalk DUO Wi-Fi though, remains marginally ahead in other areas with better customer support and the ability to use the device via a Wi-Fi connection. This eliminates a step in the process, a potential step that could cause complications with the MagicJack Go.
It really comes down to whether you want the Wi-Fi feature and better customer service or a better APP and cheaper price. It’s a matter of opinion in the end and the answer isn’t the same for all consumers. MagicJack though, is investing heavily into its chipset and should level the playing field in the areas where NetTalk leads. It is clear that regardless of what happens we haven’t seen the end of this battle royale among these two low-cost VOIP services providers.