The Verizon Wireless Hub: to Buy or Not to Buy?

Weighing the pros and cons of the Verizon Hub VoIP phone

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"Whether you’re thinking about getting rid of your home phone or can’t live without it, now is the time to try out the Verizon Hub," states Mike Lanman of Verizon Wireless, which has launched the Verizon Hub, a multi-purpose device that, according to them, "reinvents the home phone system that's been centered on your kitchen counter for years."

What It Can Do

The hub is primarily a VoIP phone, with a wireless DECT handset that snaps into the device. What impresses is the 8-inch color touchscreen that brings the following features to the device:

  • Check local traffic and weather in the morning before leaving the house
  • Update your calendar and automatically receive a text when an appointment changes or as a reminder not to be late
  • Get directions to the new site when the location for soccer practice is moved
  • Find the number of the new pizza parlor to order a pie
  • Preview the trailers from an upcoming movie that you might want to take the family to over the weekend, then purchase tickets using the Verizon Hub

See the full specs on the official web site.

The Cost and Requirements

The device costs $200 (after a $50 rebate). The buyer will be able to use the device only if he/she signs a two-year service contract with Verizon Wireless, binding her to a monthly fee of $35 for two years. This adds Verizon's PSTN service, which will be the only service that works with the device, at least for two years.

You also need a broadband Internet connection. That, of course, comes from Verizon, but will eventually come from other competing Internet service providers too. This implies the need for a wireless router.

Another important point to note is that the phone service plus whatever comes along with it as featured is $35 a month.

The Pros

The first reasons are bulleted above - the features that power up the dumbphone service that has been sitting in your kitchen, living room or office for years. But we doubt it will be only in the kitchen since, with the need for a router and Internet connection, it will be better placed in the office or study room.

A third reason would be to be on the cutting edge. The color touchscreen is really impressive and will seduce more than one.

The Cons

Price can be a problem here, especially during times of economic challenge. In investing at least $200 on the device, you are in a way forcing yourself into remaining faithful to Verizon for at least two years. Will you be able to use the device with another VoIP service? Frankly speaking, we don't have the answer to that question yet, but will we know it soon enough. The price would not seem so high had it been compatible with other service providers. The broadband connection that allows for the added online features can eventually be that of other competitive service providers, but only on condition, as Verizon puts it, that the device is successful. So this might as well never happen.

Paying $35 a month for unlimited voice calling to the US and Canada is relatively expensive, compared to the most common VoIP service providers, among which the most expensive plan for a similar VoIP service is around $25 a month. And the latter comes with many more features than what Verizon is offering.

If we want to consider the product in a purely economic perspective, we will compare it to a service like ooma, which sells its device for a slightly higher price, but despite with less features, allows you to make completely free calls ever after. Yes, zero monthly bills. Have a look at other no-monthly bill device-based services.

Lastly, what the Verizon hub offers is not the ability to surf the web, but only a set of features for some synchronization and localization of services online. It does not replace a computer. So the question of whether it is finally worthwhile having those crisp features becomes pertinent. We found out that you can get most of what the Verizon hub offers through an existing Verizon tool, called the Verizon Call Assistant. Some of its features are notification of incoming calls or voicemail on your computer, creating electronic logs of caller IDs, contact lists, play, replay and save voicemails, among others. That tool is free.

Bottom line: If you want to save money, you will think twice before buying. If the device has seduced you - and this is totally logical - then don't think, because it already is a VoIP device, and Verizon is venturing into VoIP seas.

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