One of the more controversial products we've written about - certainly one which provokes the most argument among commenters - is the MagicJack VoIP adapter. Thanks to regular cable TV adverts, a "too good to be true" confusion about the service and an outspoken CEO, the company regularly find themselves the subject of debate. That debate flipped over into a legal battle, however, when Boing Boing critiqued the MagicJack EULA; the VoIP firm decided they didn't like the accusations that they would use call information to target customers with adverts, took Boing Boing to court, and ended up having to pay $50,000 in damages.
In a world of over-zealous PR and media-cautious executives, magicJack CEO Dan Borislow is a breath of fresh air. In a recent interview with Laptop, Borislow blows off speculation of the legality of the company's recently-announced femtocell and tips an upcoming Skype-like standalone phone, but saves some choice words - "It’s a piece of sh*t ... it’s run by a bunch of fly-by-nights with no assets" - for recently-launched rival service netTALK.
Yesterday we told you about VoIP provider magicJack's intention to offer a femtocell that, they claimed, would work with any GSM cellphone - even those without service - but at the time we didn't know exactly how the system worked. Unfortunately, now that details have emerged we're not entirely convinced it's the greatest of ideas, either from a legal or a functional perspective. It turns out the new magicJack uses, without being granted permission from the carriers who have licensed it, cellphone radio frequencies to connect GSM phones to a personal cellular base-station.
If you want a femtocell in the US there are a few to choose from, from each of the major carriers. If you want one which will extend coverage for multiple different networks, however, you're out of luck; or at least you were until magicJack stepped into the ring. Both times we've written about the company - who began by offering a low-cost USB VoIP adapter - we've been inundated with less than complementary comments about them. Hopefully their unnamed femtocell - which promises to work with any GSM phone, even one without an active service contract - will fare better.
We first saw magicJack all the way back in October, where we managed to kick off an argument about truth in advertising in the comments; now PC Magazine have got one of the adaptors in for review, to see whether YMax's claims are true. To recap, the magicJack device is a matchbox-sized gizmo with a USB plug on one end (to go into your computer) and a standard RJ-11 phone jack on the other, into which you plug a standard landline phone. The big selling point is unlimited national calls for $20 a year.
There are lots of people looking to save money on phone bills by going with VoIP services like magicJack. With magicJack's reputation hurt by the loss of a defamation case it filed against a tech site, some may be looking for an alternative service. netTalk is a competitor with a service very similar to magicJack and the company has a hardware device called the TK6000.