When it comes to residential VoIP service providers, magicJack and Ooma are two of the most popular on the market, in no small part because of their pricing. Each offers phone service without a monthly fee, which is a huge advantage when it comes to marketing.
magicJack Go Overview
magicJack came out just over five years ago, but at the time, it was a computer add-on that only worked while the computer was on. Slowly but surely, magicJack began expanding with more options for consumers, including its magicJack Plus, magicApp, magicJack Go and magicJack EXPRESS. The EXPRESS is an analog telephone adapter (ATA) that the user hooks up to a wall power source to make calls via an internet connection. Use of the EXPRESS does require a device with an internet connection, though, such as a computer, smartphone or tablet.
The Ooma Telo has been around much longer than magicJack, as it will soon be a full decade old. It also has hardware that it sells to consumers to make money, along with a Premier Service that provides upgraded features over its free basic plan. Since Ooma charges a monthly fee to customers that desire premium services, this has given it the flexibility to innovate with helpful new features, including fax support and a virtual receptionist.
Since magicJack and Ooma are a bit different, they can’t be compared feature by feature. But they can be reviewed to see what they deliver and which provides more value.
Free trials are available for magicJack Go and Ooma Premier Service, but the former is the latest service device and the latter is a permanent service upgrade if the user chooses to subscribe. For its basic plan, Ooma doesn't charge a monthly fee. There are some taxes and fees that the user must pay due to phone service regulations, but Ooma discloses these up front and even includes a fee calculator on its site, allowing people to input their ZIP codes and get a monthly fee estimate. The monthly taxes and fees typically total a few dollars, adding up to about $50 annually. Even though magicJack advertises that it doesn't have a monthly fee, it does have an annual fee of $39 or a 3-year plan for $89. When it comes to hardware costs, the Ooma Telo device is more expensive at $99.99, whereas the magicJack Go ATA device is only $35. If a new customer purchases the magicJack Go, they also get 12 months of service free.
For number porting, magicJack comes out ahead with its $19.95 fee compared to a fee of $39.99 with Ooma. Even though magicJack has an annual fee and Ooma doesn't, the regulatory taxes and fees with Ooma will likely total as much or more annually as magicJack’s fee.
Both MagicJack and Ooma have a solid lineup of basic features. Features available with both include caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail and E911. Each of them offers unlimited calling throughout the United States and Canada. They both have portable ATA devices, although magicJack devices are far more portable. They also both offer international calling at low per-minute rates, but magicJack is again the superior option in this regard due to its free device-to-device calling option when a user has an inbound international call.
To Ooma’s credit, it boasts an online history of the user’s calls, but magicJack scores a point of its own because it lets the user email their voicemails. In terms of sound quality, that was once an area where Ooma was the better choice, but it’s now too close to call.
One place where Ooma stands out is its available features, which could make the difference for consumers looking for many different options with their VoIP service. Ooma can work with many different Wi-Fi adapters and Telo phone devices, which allows the user to get a legitimate wireless connection to their Telo device. Ooma offers a Bluetooth adapter allowing the user to make calls on their cell phone through Ooma while at home, although the magicApp offers similar functionality.
Ooma lets the user purchase international minute bundles, and Telo Premier customers can get an instant second line, multi-ring functionality, a backup number and extensions with Google Voice. It also has several great enhanced voicemail options. These include call screening, blacklisting, voicemail transcription, voicemail forwarding and a do-not-disturb function.
Since those are add-on features, the user will need to pay the Premier Service fee of $9.99 per month for them, but at least Ooma gives users the option to get these features.
When it comes to technology, magicJack is topnotch. Its app is popular and user-friendly. One major benefit of magicJack is that its minimum operating speed is just 128 kb/s. Ooma, on the other hand, works best over DSL, cable or fiber optic cable internet service as it requires high-speed internet. It’s important to note that when comparing both services with fast internet, Ooma tends to have fewer issues, such as lag and white noise. To attain the best sound quality, Ooma recommends using its handset that costs another $50.
Ooma Telo and Hub need either a phone or a handset, whereas the magicJack works on any telephone. This is another area where Ooma has its own devices that the user can purchase.
When it comes to devices, the magicJack ATA device is smaller and has a simpler installation process. magicJack provides three-way calling and the option to launch conference calls online for outbound business calls. Although Ooma also has these features, they’re only for Premier subscribers. The same is true of directory assistance – magicJack has it free and Ooma charges for it.
Ooma is the clear winner here. Upgrading isn’t really magicJack’s game, as its devices don’t upgrade. If the user wants more features with magicJack, they need to buy a new device that has them. With the Ooma Telo and the Ooma Hub, new features are available as soon as the user subscribes to the Premier Service.
magicJack doesn't have the best reputation when it comes to customer support, in large part due to some previous missteps. It doesn't have a customer service phone number to call, and if a user wants to call them, they need to use the service contact number. It’s a roundabout way of doing things, although to magicJack’s credit, it does have quite a bit of support information available online.
Ooma used to be known for having great customer service, but that all changed in one period from 2009 to 2011. The company was plagued with multiple large outages that left customers without service for anywhere from six hours to several days. It compounded the problem when it sent messages regarding the issues on Twitter instead of updating its website with the new information. In recent years, Ooma has had solid, if unspectacular, customer service. It offers a customer service phone line, although hold times can be hit or miss.
Both magicJack and Ooma provide good service, and it’s a tight race between the two. Ooma has an advantage with all the VoIP features it offers through its Premier Service plan, but magicJack has better free features. magicJack is also certainly the better option when it comes to its technology and pricing. For upgrading, scalability and customer support, Ooma comes out a bit ahead.
Considering magicJack is more portable, super easy to set up and has a free app available, it ends up as the winner of a close contest.
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