It’s from a familiar name in the telephone business: Verizon. But instead of the old-school landline Verizon, this is Verizon Wireless, the cell phone company. It plans to start selling an interesting new touch-screen telephone plus service beginning February 1. Here’s what “The Hub” looks like (click to enlarge):
The Hub reminds me of the home-of-the-future idea that tech companies have been trying to pitch for more than a few decades. As you can see from the image, the Hub is essentially a mini-computer with one-click access to contacts, calendar, traffic reports, local pizza numbers, movie information, etc. There are a lot of snazzy features, including the ability to watch movie trailers, turn it into a digital picture frame and send and receive text messages. It offers many of the same features as a Verizon Wireless cell phone. Maybe the time is finally right for this networked device?
As more consumers have dropped their home phone line in favor of depending solely on a cell phone, the Hub looks like an attempt to entice the rest of us to drop our landline.
The service is based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), so users will need broadband Internet service.
Then there’s the price… You’ll need a chunk of cash to get started. Expect to pay $235 upfront ($199.99 for the phone after a $50 rebate and $34.99 activation fee).
Plus you must commit to a 2-year-contract. But the initial $235 plus $35/month for service is way more than some people pay for home phone service. So, this isn’t about saving money. This is really about replacing home phone service with, um, newer home phone service and a fancy phone.
There are many other ways to save money, including canceling home phone service and relying on your cell phone. Switching to a cheaper VoIP provider, such as the nearly-free Skype, Packet 8 ($25/month), or Vonage ($25/month). Even Verizon’s own VoIP service, VoiceWing, is cheaper, at $24.95 for unlimited calling.
Or there’s even a similar, much cheaper service from T-Mobile. Its @Home phone service (reviewed here in June 2008) is $9.99/month. It doesn’t include a phone, but offers a converter box that lets you plug in your home’s current phone. Caveats: You must be a T-Mobile wireless subscriber and you need broadband Internet.
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