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How To Fax With magicJack And magicJack Plus

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MagicJack devices use voice-over-internet Internet Protocol technology, which has opened up the possibility of using them as a low-cost alternative to expensive phone plans. Besides for saving money on phone calls the question is often asked “Can you use magicJack to fax?” and the answers isn’t so simple. The magicJack can indeed be used for faxing and has also allowed people to save money by eliminating the need for a landline, but it also isn’t yet an officially support feature of the service.

Fax (Facsimile) is a telephonic transmission of data after scanning text and images. In the past this put a reliance on telephone land lines but with magicJack this is no longer the case for individuals and businesses needing faxing capabilities. Although you can fax with the magicJack and magicJack Plus without any official software, quite surprisingly, there has been no official support for faxing services or fax setup from the company.

Setting up MagicJack for Fax:

The steps to set up your MagicJack device for faxing  over VoIP are as follows:

1. Connect the MagicJack device to your computer using the USB port. Select the “Normal (Hi Speed)” operation from the menu-bar on your screen. Air card (3G) selection would not work.

2. Attach your fax machine to the MagicJack using the phone wire, with one end plugged into the ‘Input’ jack of the fax (one marked “Line In”), and other to the ‘Output’ Ethernet port on your MagicJack. Make sure you plug it into the correct port, since the input port is meant for connecting to a router or your internet source ‘line-in’.

3. Note the MagicJack phone number while you’re connecting/setting up your device to the computer. Alternatively, you may make a call to your cell phone using the MagicJack device in order to figure out the number. Now send a fax to that number (you may even use eFax or a digital transmission service).

Usage Tip: Since MagicJack is reliant on the speed of your internet, it would most likely operate at transmission speeds which are lower than traditional phone line frequencies, particularly if you have moderate to low speed internet. It is advisable to lower the data transmission speed of your fax machine and disable error correction1. Once the first couple of faxes go through smoothly and without and problems, you may gradually increase the speed to test the optimum level. This is the official suggestion on MagicJack’s FAQ page as well.

magicJack FAQ for faxesImage: MagicJack FAQ for faxes

4. Repeat the set-up, this time loading your fax machine with a trial transmission material, dialing the receiver number and pressing ‘Send’. Verify that it was received at the other end.

magicJack setup with HP Officejet 5610Image: MagicJack with HP Officejet 5610 set up

That’s it! As you’d notice, the set-up is a cinch like most things with MagicJack. Barring device issues with hardware specifications, there is little to hinder the quick set-up. That being said, there are a few things you’d need to keep an eye out for.

Faxing with the Original MagicJack – the pitfalls

The reliability and support for using the original MagicJack for faxing services is a tad underwhelming, which isn’t entirely surprising considering the lack of official support. Remember that before you start your rant with the Live-chat agent or the person on the Tech-support line for MagicJack.

Lack of enough ports limits the scope of simultaneous use; MagicJack must be used exclusively as a phone line or a faxing line.

Additionally, the present technology of VoIP data is reasonably good for voice calls, but analog data for transmitting the details in a paper document with text and images, plus converting them to bitmaps wreaks havoc on the capacity of your modem. Even if faxes goes through, it’s highly unlikely that it can be sustained beyond a few pages.

It is also important to know your printing/scanning device specifications before you attempt to use the MagicJack devices for faxing. Standard home-office printers like HP Officejet 6000 and 7000 series work well, but anything in the 8000 series requires an additional Digital/DSL filter installed on the line to monitor the transmission bit-rates.

MagicJack Plus Advantages

MagicJack Plus, and MagicJack Plus 2014 are better attuned to handle consistent transmission and faxing of materials. A couple of things stand out when you use the MagicJack Plus or MagicJack Plus 2014 devices for faxing:

  • The ‘default’ operational speed of fax transmissions are higher. There is no need to select a speed from the computer as it auto-adjusts to the optimum speed. Even the most basic devices can register up to 14000 to 15000 baud rates.

  • You can use the MagicJack Plus 2014 both as a fax and a business phone simultaneously, though the performance isn’t as consistent. But availability of additional Ethernet ports open up future options to refine this aspect

  • With the advent of MagicJack WiFi on cards, digital transmission of faxing materials is a distinct possibility in the near future, something which was discussed during the early exchanges regarding the massive upgrades planned as part of the MagicJack GO.

  • Ability to work over the internet with or without a computer lends flexibility of email-to-fax or fax-to-email features.

Be aware though of the data plan of your internet as well as qualified extension of your ‘unlimited calls’ clause on the MagicJack or MagicJack Plus devices. Transmitting a document with text and images isn’t particularly light on the phone line, and most offers of ‘unlimited’ usually cap bandwidth/data use with an upper limit in ‘fine-print’. If in any sort of doubt, contact your internet service provider (ISP) before you commence faxing with MagicJack as a business option.

As you would have figured out by now – the technology used by MagicJack (or indeed, any other VoIP models like Skype) aren’t built specifically to be used for faxing. If your business relies on faxed documents often you cannot afford to have unreliable service so it’s advisable to use go with electronic options or stick to the traditional line. That being said, the recent evolution of MagicJack 2014 Plus and upcoming MagicJack Go promises to iron out the kinks and make it a far more streamlined functionality.

1 To turn off error correction, touch the ‘right arrow’ on Home screen. Now follow the sequence on the touch screen to select Setup > Fax Setup > Advanced Fax Setup. Scroll to select ECM (Error correction Mode). Turn it off.