netTALK vs. magicJack

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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netTALK vs. magicJack

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netTALK sent me their netTALK DUO VoIP device to test. Obvious comparisons will be made with magicJack since both offer all you can eat U.S. and Canada calling for a flat yearly rate. In the case of netTALK it is $69.95 $49.95 (the first year); $29.95 (each year after). magicJack costs $39.95 for the first year and then $19.95 after that.

So at first glance, magicJack seems cheaper than netTALK. However, netTALK claims that your PC has to be on 24x7 for magicJack to work which adds to your electrical bill. That may be true, but many users, myself included leave our PC on all the time, so doubt there would be much electrical savings there. But if you do turn off your PC at night then certainly the cost difference would change in netTALK's favor.

However, I do like how the netTALK connects directly to my broadband router with no PC software required. With magicJack if my PC's processor is pegged by a rogue process the call quality will suffer. I'm constantly running 40 Firefox tabs and tons of programs, so inevitably, I run out of RAM, PC starting paging like crazy and my processor is pegged at 99%. Or if the magicJack software crashes, the call will be dropped and you won't receive calls until your re-launch the magicJack software. So score another point to netTALK. Also, a netTALK representative told me their customer service is much better than magicJack, which has had quite a few complaints. In fact, last I checked, magicJack didn't have live person support. I can't confirm netTALK's customer service is indeed better, but that's what they told me. Besides, the fact they actually have live person support is a huge advantage.

Features: 

  • Digital phone service offers free local and long distance calls to U.S. and Canada from anywhere in the world
  • Phone service connects directly to high-speed internet (router/modem) – or through a computer for added convenience
  • No computer required saves money, energy and wear and tear on your computer
  • No monthly fees; no contracts; low-cost international calling
  • Comes with a 3-ft. Ethernet cable, 3-ft. USB cable and AC adapter
  • Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) status offers users ultra low priced voice services and nationwide number availability
  • Other capabilities: Fax Friendly, Caller ID, Three-Way Calling, Call Forwarding, Call Waiting, Enhanced 911, Voicemail and 411 Directory Assistance

Installing was a snap. I plugged in an Ethernet cable to the device and my network. Then I connected an analog phone wire and phone to te phone port on the Nettalk DUO. Next, I connected the mini USB cable to my PC to power the device. I can also use the AC adapter instead to power it. It booted up and in about 30s I heard the analog phone ring. This was confirmation the device was working and registered with their servers.

I then made a test call to my cell phone. The sound quality was excellent and latency was minimal. In less than 3 minutes after unboxing I was able to successfully make a call! Impressive. See my YouTube video test call taken via my iPhone:


The magicJack is a very popular VoIP device due to its ease of use and pricepoint. Now they have a new kid on the block looking to knock them off their perch. Nettalk nearly matches them on price and has some advantages over magicTalk that I already mentioned. All-in-all netTALK DUO is a worthy competitor to magicTalk and I'm sure we'll be seeing big things from them.

P.S. Forgot to mention these two nice features. One, they give you a free on-the-fly conference bridge. Two, they have a mobile app (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and others) that lets you make free U.S./Canada calling without using your cell minutes. Features for the mobile app:

  • Free calling to the US and Canada
  • Connectivity through WiFi / 3G / Edge
  • Record conversations
  • Import your contacts from your phone
  • Receive customized support through 611
  • Dial 2663 for FREE conference calling bridge
  • Free 411 Directory Assistance

Update: Pricing for the netTALK Duo has dropped and it is $20 cheaper - $49.95 now.



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