Who doesn’t like gadgets? Who wouldn’t want a magicJack for holidays like Christmas, Chanukah or another tradition? Well it all depends. Personally, I wouldn’t mind receiving a magicJack in my stocking, but here are a couple things to think about before you bestow this gift on a friend. Come to think of it, most of this goes for just about any gift, so maybe you’ll gain some insight about general gift-giving etiquette. Let’s begin.

magicJack Holiday?Where to buy it? I bought my first magicJack device from RadioShack at full price. I’m glad I did, because I had to return the first one because it was broken right out of the package. The replacement worked fine.

However, I’ve also bought direct from magicJack. Replacement will cost extra if you do it this method because of shipping of the replacement device.

If you buy it from a local vendor, you can return it more easily if it’s defective. If you buy it from magicJack directly, you may be able to get a better overall price. I’m not telling you which is better, but rather, suggesting pros and cons for which method of acquiring the gift. Don’t buy this as a gift for someone else off of ebay. If the price is that good, there has to be something wrong with it.

If you give this device pre-registered and activated, a gift receipt is not likely to be very useful unless the device is faulty, but it couldn’t hurt to include one if you buy the device locally.

Phone Service as Device… When you give a magicJack, you’re not giving a phone. You’re giving phone-service-as-a-device. magicJack is different from other digital phone “services” in that everything you get is in the device. There is virtually no support. The device itself embodies the contract. If you lose or break the device, you have to buy a new one. It’s smaller than a deck of cards — and it doesn’t come with a phone.

Don’t give this thing without at least one decent cordless phone. A Panasonic 1.9Ghz cordless DECT 6.0 is the minimum buy-in for a reliable phone with reasonable signal strength. Make sure it uses double-A rechargeable batteries – not those old-fashioned weird battery cell-packs that cost ridiculous amounts to replace. If you can afford it, it’s better to include a base phone with multiple satellite handsets and on-board answering machine. Don’t let the phone be the weakest link in your gift. And don’t give this without a phone. That’s just rude, because I can’t say often enough: magicJack is not in-and-of-itself a phone.

One year, a family member gave me a cell phone. It was an ordinary cell phone in my name with a number already picked out, even local to where I lived. It was a wonderful thought. But the giver only paid the first month. It was a two year contract, and I was supposed to pay the rest. The gift was only half-way thought through. The contract on the phone was out of my budget. I couldn’t keep it. So I had to return it. It was never spoken of again, but the lesson learned by me was to never – EVER – bestow a gift that is also a responsibility, unless the person in question has made a standing or obvious request for that particular thing.

For instance, don’t give someone a 40-year-old bonsai oak tree just because you like bonsai, unless the recipient is a bonsai specialist with the greenhouse ready to house it. Most people will kill a deciduous bonsai in two weeks, and an evergreen in four. Bonsai requires special watering, special treatment, special lighting… and most of all special pruning at specific times that most people simply aren’t prepared to do. Similarly don’t give pets, rare tropical fish or potted plants on the spur of the moment. That’s why you don’t give someone a magicJack unless you take care of certain things before the gift is even received.

Don’t give the device to someone who doesn’t have wired internet. If you have a friend who is leeching WiFi internet from their neighbors, it’s sort of rude to remind them they can’t afford to pay for their own WiFi, even if their neighbors are generous enough to share. Don’t give this person a magicJack unless you’re willing to buy them a year of wired internet service.

Don’t give this to your Luddite parent, sister, uncle or grandmother. If they don’t know enough to plug a computer into the router, your gift will end up sitting unused in the bottom of a drawer a week after the holidays are over. Even if you give this to a person who is a gadget geek — if the device ends up in a drawer in a month, you should not be offended that they didn’t use your gift. Different people have different frustration thresholds. You’ll just have to deal with knowing the device is sitting wasted in a drawer. Also, do not be offended if they end up selling it partly used on ebay.

Don’t give this device to your friend who lives in Wet Galoshes, Montana, or some other remote place where local phone providers are blocking local calls from magicJack. If the city your friend or family member lives in has a population of less than 80,000 people, chances are, magicJack is not a good candidate for them.

Admit it. If you own a magicJack, you know it can sometimes be frustrating to use one. If the person you want to give it to isn’t willing to wade through a little frustration for low-cost phone capability, don’t give them this device. Sometimes we’re tempted to give a gift that we know will be viewed as well-intentioned, but both the giver and the giftee know the recipient will never use, the objective being to bestow a little cruelty on the holidays. Try not to do that. It could come back to bite you.

Consider including a Uninterupted Power Supply (UPS) with your magicJack and cordless phone, especially if your giftee has intermittent brownouts or power discontinuities.

Be prepared to become the default phone service support for this device. Your recipient will not want to chat with magicJack support, and it’s not fair of you to expect them to. Consider that in giving this gift to some friends and family, you may in fact be giving yourself an extra job – becoming the phone support guru for your friends and family. Do you really want that?

So I’ve spent a lot of time telling whom not to give this to and what not to do. What about good candidates?

Good candidates for a magicJack include college students who have access to wired internet in the dorm, recent college graduates who have just moved to a well-populated area with decent internet, recently-divorced people with little or no money but, oddly enough, access to wired internet. Another good candidate is your geek friend who enjoys gadgets. Of course give this to anyone who has put this on a wish list they have made public or specifically for you. This will be your most obvious candidate for the magicJack. Likely you won’t have to give this person a phone or internet service along with the device because they’ll already have those things ready to plug and play, or are looking forward to the challenge of figuring it out for themselves.

If you’re going to give this to someone overseas in hopes that they will keep in touch with you on magicJack, remember to register and activate it in the United States or Canada before you even mail it out to them. Be prepared to renew the registration every year for them, because if they don’t live in the US or Canada, they can’t do it themselves.

Create a separate magicJack account and register and activate it for them in your gift recipient’s name. Write down the details and give it to your recipient with the activated magicJack. Keep a copy of the information if they are likely to lose it or if you plan to renew for them.

Some of you are still going to be tempted to give this to the savvy Grandma who has internet, but knows just enough to fiddle with email and her cougar blog or hobby forum. If you’re going to do this, be prepared to add any phones, cables, wires, switches, UPS and/or routers to set this up so that Grandma only has to pick up the phone and dial. Show her how to restart the device when it fails. And don’t forget to call your Grandma like clockwork on the magicJack after you set it up.

Happy Holidays!




Join the Conversation


    1. Hi Stephen,
      I’m sure you’ll agree, more than half of this post is dedicated to reasons why you shouldn’t give this to a loved one, so we agree, to some extent. The blocked exchange list is already linked in the banned exchanges page in the menu. About the only person most of us should give this to is someone who has it on their wish list. I suspect nobody in your circles will be receiving one from you – and that’s okay! Please – next time you post, use your valid email address. A bold comment carries more weight with me when the email behind it is real. Have a pleasant holiday.

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