PC-Free MagicJack Coming Soon

The voice-over-IP company that owns MagicJack -- the USB stick that enables phone calls on a PC -- is getting ready to release a new version of the device that doesn't need the PC.

The MagicJack Plus plugs into a power outlet and requires only a network connection -- either to a Wi-Fi or 4G adapter, or an Ethernet port on a router -- to enable voice-over-IP phone service.

VocalTec, which merged with MagicJack creator YMax last summer, demonstrated the MagicJack Plus to journalists at the Consumer Electronics Show this week. The company says it expects to ship the device within 90 days at an expected price of $50, which will include a year of free local and long distance calls. (The origi

nal MagicJack costs $40, also including a year of free service.) After that, service costs $20 a year.

You can opt to have your own phone number, and you can still choose to power the new version by plugging it into a USB port on a PC, the way the original version works. Either way, you plug a standard phone into the RJ-11 port at the other end of the device to make the actual calls.

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