Telstra T-Hub

Can Telstra actually make the home phone cool again? The T-Hub with its 7-inch touchscreen could be the telco's ace in the hole, bringing smartphone chic to fixed line telephony.

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

First impressions

Throughout history, brave men and women have attempted activities that seem to be impossible, like in 1953 when Edmund Hillary became the first man to conquer Mount Everest, or 1994 when John Travolta resurrected a non-existent acting career with his role in Pulp Fiction. But all of these feats pale in comparison to what Telstra is attempting with the T-Hub: it's trying to make the home phone cool again.

In a time when many people we know are ditching the home phone for a mobile phone/ADSL broadband combination, Telstra is hoping to lure some of yesterday's faithful back into the fold with a 7-inch touchscreen and internet connectivity. And you know what? It just might work.

We enjoyed a brief hands on with the T-Hub at a media briefing today and have walked away impressed. The unit is well designed, and not just aesthetically, but also conceptually. The T-Hub connects to a BigPond broadband service via Wi-Fi and offers a limited range of web services alongside its primary task of being a touchscreen speakerphone. The comparison to mobile phones don't end there, with the T-Hub incorporating a contacts book, calendar and SMS composer.

Web services run through an Opera browser, which optimises the page view for the T-Hub's unorthodox screen size. BigPond web services, like news and weather, run under a customised skin, making articles finger-friendly and easy to read. The T-Hub home screen also provides links to Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, though these sites aren't customised specifically for the T-Hub (other than the standard optimising in the browser), so Telstra provides a stylus for links that may be difficult to press with a finger.

The touchscreen is detachable from its dock, which is great for moving it about the house, but the dock also acts as a subwoofer so you'll want to return the screen to its home before loading up multimedia. The T-Hub can stream YouTube clips or can load certain media files off USB or an SDHC card.

After briefly playing with the T-Hub, its application in the home seems obvious. In a home with several family members, the T-Hub could act as a central information dock, the address book could be filled with numbers used by the entire family, the calendar could show where everyone is day to day, and SMS messages sent to the device could let everyone know when to be home for dinner, or that the kitty litter needs changing before Grandma comes over. A Telstra spokesperson told us that the next generation of home screen apps could link to a cookbook of sorts, displaying ingredients and video guides to preparing meal-time favourites.

So how much will this cost?

At AU$299, the initial outlay for the T-Hub is surprisingly low, considering it also comes with a single cordless handset as well (up to five handsets can be connected to a T-Hub service). But your impression of its affordability may change when you learn you'll also need a compatible Telstra home line and fixed line or wireless broadband package, an example of which is included in the press release we've received; a Home Bundle 12GB plan costs AU$109 per month. The service also requires a wireless router to be installed, which adds to the cost again if your household doesn't currently use one. Prices like these are unlikely to lure back customers who have ditched their home lines for cheaper alternatives, but the T-Hub does seem like a cool addition for homes that currently use a BigPond service bundle. The T-Hub is available from 20 April, check back for a full review around the time of its release.

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HenryT2 Facebook

"A first for a Home Phone"

HenryT2 posted a review   

The Good:Internet surfing (for pages that don't need Flash), checking weather..., Big display

The Bad:Some days it's normal, some days it's unresponsive..., The handset failed at one point saying 'Busy' on the display when someone called or you tried to call someone

It's okay if you only need it for simple stuff, but then again, the other basic phones do the same job...


SueW1 posted a comment   

Woke this morning with message on thub telling me I had no internet connection but the computer was OK, they had done an update during the night and obviously the thub did not like it, so rang the help line and 3 calls later was told it is broken and they will send a bag in a week to return it (probably the Phillipines) and then in perhaps another week if they can repair it it will come back in the mean time use another phone of my own to get by. Bloody pathetic Telstra.


PaulL4 posted a comment   

Junk, thats the nicest thing I can say about this piece of crap


denben posted a comment   

Advice needed. I have a Panasonic four station wireless setup for my landline. Will the T-Hub work alongside the Panasonic system. I will not get it if it doesn't


"Telstra handsets are woeful"

Willo posted a reply   

The Good:None

The Bad:Everything

I have a T-Hub with 4 handsets. Just rang Telstra to see what other handsets work with the T-Hub - NONE!!! I hate the cheap, shoddy Telstra handsets with a passion. I could go on & on about the problems I have with them. Do yourself a favour and do NOT get a T-Hub.


Willo posted a reply   

denben - not sure if I replied or put in a new review. Don't do it!

Becca85 Facebook

"Not happy!"

Becca85 posted a review   

The Good:Internet access, large display, good contacts book

The Bad:Tablet freezes, handheld doesn't work, internet drops out

It would be great - if it worked properly... the tablet freezes and wont work unless turned off and on again, of the two handsets - one has died within the first couple of months of use and the other emits a high pitched scream in the caller's ear when I answer on it. The buttons on the handheld are stiff and sometimes I have to press them two or three times and it has a delayed reaction. The touchscreen on the tablet also has a delayed reaction - or no reaction at all and the internet connection on it spends more time not working than working even though my laptop picks up the WIFI signal from further away.


Daz posted a comment   

The Good:8/10

The Bad:Locks up some times

Hi All
I have had my T-HUB since November 2010 nad have very little issues except sometimes it freezes and I just turn it off and back on and away it goes.
I like the apps as they are handy instead of fireing up the PC for google or check lotto or sports results.
I have had no probs with the phone at all I have noticed it starts ringing a little later on the hub then the handset however I can live with it.
The message bank was a pain to setup however now it is OK.


Bracks posted a review   

The Good:Works really well most of the time

The Bad:Needs to be rebooted a couple of time a week

Overall I think the T-Hub is a pretty good home device. I bought it for my home office and it falls down alittle with regard to business use. I use the hands free via the tablet all the time and have not had any problems with people hearing me. That is, except for a call to a Telstra helpdesk where the person on the other end of the phone asked me if I could use the handset rather than the hands free. Thought that quite amusing. Main complaint is with the touch screen. Not sensitive enough. Misses some presses when dialing. Overall for the cost $11/month a pretty good deal.
Dont get me started on the T-Box thats another matter entirely.


jo posted a review   

never get another one again telsta told me to ring thub so i did they told me not once but 4 times to take it to the telstra shop where i got it and they would give me a new phone went in there got told no you have to send it to thub well the first 2 weeks of owning it the stupid thing froze then the screen kept going white the lcd screen on the other one just says its loading and stays on that screen and cordless handset when you try to make calls tells you busy and then does nothing 12 months later with putting up with the problem cause iam sick of fighting with telsta today 24th feb 2011 now i cant use either phone refuses to make any calls i have to use my neighbours phone and have been waiting for almost an hour and im still waiting telstra we pay you good money and you treat your customers like crap if my epilepsy or diabetes triggers off and my partner cant call 000 we are going to sue the **** of you fix the problem idiots


2getherwer1 posted a reply   

as Kevin bloody wilson song said they are suppose to make it easy not ------- hard i agree with you one hundred percent and even when you do get through you dont speak to a english speaking person to start which i find dam rude we pay our bills and they employ asains and who know what else to answer the phones and solve our problemsand they dont know what they are talking about to start with you buy it from the shop its the shops responsiblity to look after the customer not the customer look after them self as i bought a thub last year and even i have had problems with it


jessyx posted a comment   

The Good:not so

The Bad:too 'touchy' lol

the excitement of a new toy wears off real quick with Thub, the size is silly-just a little bigger or even a bit smaller for easier use :)

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