Help, Support, Hints and Fixes

Update 2014.01.16 – After reading this post, check out some information recently uncovered by a friendly commenter in this more recent post.

The magicJack plus 2014 first started selling in June, 2013. It’s supposed to be a better device than its predecessor. So far, there’s no evidence to support that. The sound is not any better. It may actually be worse. There is still no way to save the volume settings when it’s not connected via USB to a computer. The advertisement on the side of the box says free SMS is available through the USB Dialpad and when you use the magicJack TalkFree App, but none of these have come to pass yet. To top it off, the line polarity on the phone jack is actually reversed, contravening over a hundred years of phone standards. I can only wonder what is going through the minds of magicJack planners. There are so many open questions about what will happen next with the new glossy black device.

Pending Firmware Update

lucky you hacker insideThe new device has two usb ports and an SDIO port, but without the pending firmware update to grant access to these ports, there isn’t much we can do with them yet. The question becomes, what new capabilities will a firmware update give the magicJack plus 2014? Will it be enough to wow us? Will the firmware update allow hackers to make use of lapsed and disabled magicJack plus devices connected directly to the router? Without inside knowledge from the device designers, we can only speculate.

So… let’s speculate. 

SDIO

  • It’s labeled WiFi on the magicJack plus 2014, but the interface accepts a microSD-shaped SDIO card. SDIO would allow the magicJack to connect wirelessly to a router in your home or office. No longer would you have to locate your magicJack near an ethernet connector or run a line to your preferred location for the magicJack device. You would only have to be within a reasonable distance from the wifi-enabled router.
  • Because most public hotspots insist on accepting a usage policy via web interface before being allowed surf, SDIO won’t be much use in a hotspot. There’s no browser or monitor connected directly to the magicJack, so you’ll have to bring your computer and plug it into your computer’s USB port, log in on the computer, and then use the magicJack while it’s connected via USB. (Keep in mind that some hotspots block SIP port traffic, so you still may be out of luck trying to connect with your magicJack at a hotspot. That’s true today.)
  • As of this posting there are no microSDIO interfaces for WiFi. At our current level of tech, we can barely fit all the necessary circuits into miniSD-sized SDIO card. If they do come up with a microSDIO interface, it’s likely there will be some sort of bulky antenna attached. The microSDIO card will stick out like a thumb from the magicJack, making the overall package dimensions of the wifi-enabled magicJack just a bit larger than its specified dimensions. That’s not really that big a deal, because most of us are probably just letting the device hang from its ethernet, phone and USB extension cables in a closet or behind a desk to allow it to stay cool.
  • There may be other useful advantages to an SDIO port, like connecting a video monitor to the magicJack, but again, since it’s labeled WiFi, we can only guess that magicJack has decided to limit the interface. No face-to-face video chats…
  • Why didn’t they just integrate WiFi directly into the package? There are a number of reasons.
    • It’s yet another thing that will demand support knowledge from the chat support in the Philippines. If SDIO is third-party, you’ll have to contact them instead. From a chat support point-of-view, if WiFi isn’t working, you can just blame the SDIO card and tell the customer that their magicJack is otherwise performing correctly.
    • Most people aren’t going to want to use WiFi because it will add a level of flakiness to the mix that could cause dropped calls, especially in a business situation, or in  densely-populated areas where there are many WiFi devices crowding out spectrum.
    • It’s not as fast as ethernet.
    • It’s less secure.
    • It’s cheaper to give a small geeky group of people the option to pay more for a peripheral wifi adapter. That means fewer returns, since it’s one less thing that could break or have manufacturing flaws inside the magicJack itself.
    • In other words, it comes down to money. Enough people have wined about how cool WiFi would be, that perhaps magicJack decided to meet geeksters halfway, but not enough to make it a realistic third option in most situations.

USB

  • Some sort of USB phone will likely be used as a peripheral for this device. There are plenty of USB phones out there already, and almost all of them are compatible with Skype, MSN, Yahoo Messenger and SIP soft phones on almost all operating systems. Most of them use tigerJet drivers, just like magicJack. Ideally, legacy devices should work with the magicJack plus 2014 once the promised firmware update comes out, but that may not be the case.
  • magicJack may be coming up with its own proprietary USB-enabled phone, maybe even more than one model. Imagine a two- or four-line USB-enabled DECT 6.0 phone that could have multiple satellite handsets connecting wirelessly to the phone base. The phone base, connected via USB 2.0 could easily carry four simultaneous calls if the firmware of the magicJack were set to deal with multiple calls. Except, I don’t think magicJack is thinking that far ahead.
  • Another possibility for USB peripheral would be a memory stick in order to log call history. A memory stick could also allow router-enabled add-on apps if the firmware is up to it.
  • Why not just use an easily available USB-enabled WiFi adapter? In truth, that may be something they are going to include in the firmware upgrade. It would be smart if they did, because there are USB-enabled WiFi adapters ready and available on the market today, and it would be cheaper for people to be able to simply plug and play.

RJ11 Jack

The RJ11 jack on the 2014 still only has only a single tip and ring, so it’s built only to handle a single phone line. I would have expected at least a two-line RJ11 jack so I could use my two-line office phone with the coming firmware update. I’m surprised this was not acted upon because it would have given magicJack the capability of optionally doubling the yearly lease on a single device without having to pay the additional cost of creating, shipping and marketing a second physical device. It’s a marketing consideration that would have fit well with magicJack’s tight-fisted business model. If they had made it two phones in one, compatible with two-line office phones, that might have been something new and useful. I am imagining Dan Borislow in full facepalm. It would have been a reasonable next step. But they didn’t do it.

Firmware Hackers

The introduction of peripherals opens up the possibility that someone could come up with a router-enabled hack for the magicJack plus 2014. Consider: There are plenty of embedded operating systems that have been hacked to the benefit of their users. TomatoUSB on an ASUS RT-N16 allows users to add all sorts of excellent capabilities to a fairly powerful home/SOHO router. On the original Nook Color, hackers created a bootable microSD hack that allowed users to boot directly from the external microSD card, bypassing the internal Nook Color android OS, and allowing CyanogenMod to boot into a less restricted, rooted android operating system, all without needing to change a thing on the Nook’s onboard operating system. What’s to stop hackers from gaining access to the bowels of the magicJack’s embedded operating system in a similar way? Is it possible to hack the magicJack plus 2014 so that a preferred web-enabled SIP client could run from a USB memory stick, all from the router without a computer?

Some of the peripherals that will eventually connect to a magicJack plus 2014 might benefit from a web-enabled server that could allow users to edit settings on the magicJack from a browser while it’s connected directly to the router. In such a case, it’s possible that shell access could be part of that parcel. Is it possible that magicJack will open up the firmware so that hackers can develop add-ons for the router-enabled magicJack plus 2014? It seems more likely that magicJack is looking for ways to thwart hackers, since they probably would prefer to keep a proprietary edge. After all, it would look pretty sorry for magicJack if people bought the device for $50, and then decided not to use it as a magicJack, but instead as a Google Voice or SIP phone hacked device. As devices go, it’s pretty inexpensive and smaller than an Obihai device.

That said, magicJack doesn’t let you re-enable a device that has lapsed its registration. That makes magicJack look fairly un-eco-friendly. What possible reasons could magicJack have for stopping people from re-enabling an old device? Hacking the magicJack plus 2014 so it can be used directly from the router for other services, if it’s possible, could be a great way to re-use a whole host of future lapsed devices. An open-source hack similar to what happened with rockbox might be a nice direction for this to go.

Will we be whelmed or will we be amazed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

 

11 Responses to What peripherals will the magicJack 2014 use?

  • Chris,here is some speculation on possible add on products/services.
    … [see link below]
    truthfreedompeace777 – this was interesting enough to merit its own page. I’ve moved your comment here.
    Please respond with more details if you have them. Thanks for the interesting speculation.

    Chris

  • I just got the MagicJack 2014 and am really impressed. The sound quality is better than my standard landline.

  • Is there a wifi card for this yet?

    • Sadly, no. The problem is that the “WiFi” interface they used was actually a microSDIO slot – except there are no microSDIO WiFi adapters on the market. Either they were expecting someone to make one, or they were going to design one themselves. Then the company went through lots of changes, and the guy who created magicJack died. The company is spending a lot of time streamlining and reducing project commitments, likely because they couldn’t deliver on WiFi/SDIO, USB headsets/phones and free SMS. Don’t expect any peripherals for the magicJack plus 2014.

  • I haven’t quite figured out what the 2 usb ports are used for on the side of magic jack 2014. Any help appreciated

    • Joe,

      There were plans to include some sort USB attachments that were outlined in a muddy fashion by magicJack. Those plans fell through. For instance, the microSDIO port labeled “WiFi” was created for an interface that still, as of yet does not even exist (that being microSDIO). The mJ+2014 came bundled with a lot of promises that never got fulfilled. (SMS messaging through the app, WiFi enabled interface, 4G data card through USB…) I seriously doubt magicJack will follow up on those promises because they repackaged what amounts to the old mJ+ 2012 in a new blue-lined black box and call it the magicJack GO. The new packaging makes no claims to SMS with the app or any other claims other than free calls in the US and Canada to most phones. It’s a recipe they know works. Once they’ve rebalanced their assets and stabilized their credibility, maybe they’ll again consider broader ventures.

      Chris

      • The two USB ports – are they for use with a USB phone? I’ve tried to use them for other things, like trying to use my printer, or a data stick but no use.

        • The USB ports on the magicJack Plus don’t work. They never have worked. Originally, they were supposed to be used either with a phone or other device provided as a peripheral for the magicJack plus, but these devices never came to fruition, and firmware was never created to activate them. The magicJack plus stopped production about a year after the company realized they’d bitten off more than they could chew. Vocaltec pulled back and focused on a streamlined main product that was basically a repackaged magicJack 2012 in a redesigned plastic cover. Now we have magicJack go in two colors, differing only by the original number of months offered with the device.

  • This is how i registered

  • To my surprise i lost my connection now i cannot get incoming and out going calls

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