Telstra T-Hub 2 Goes Android

The new version of Telstra's T-Hub — essentially a tablet which also doubles as a central home phone control panel — has one big improvement over the original model: it runs Android, so you can expand it with a range of apps. That aside, what else has changed?

Being able to install your own apps immediately makes the T-Hub 2 a more appealing proposition than the locked-down first generation device. Telstra will supply built-in apps for browsing the White and Yellow Pages, as well as a Telstra Share application to share content from the tablet to other DLNA-enabled equipment like computers and TVs and an enhanced client specifically designed for its MOG music service. (You can use the existing MOG Android app if you don't want the Telstra-branded option.)

The one annoyance? The T-Hub 2 runs Android 2.3, so it's very far from being a modern device. Telstra says it will work to provide an Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 update for the device, but hasn't given a timetable.

Using Android also means that you can easily sync contacts from an existing mobile onto your tablet. Observant readers will know Telstra uses Hotmail for its own Bigpond mail services; according to the company, there will be sync options to cover its own services, Gmail and Apple's iCloud options. There's also a Visual Voicemail option for checking your messages.

As well as the 7-inch tablet, the T-Hub bundle includes a central DECT control unit, a single cordless handset and a combined speaker/charging stand which lets you use the T-Hub as a speakerphone. You can connect a total of five devices to the system. There's a built-in kickstand if you want to use the tablet for standalone viewing (potentially useful for recipes or group video calls).

According to Telstra, around 300,000 of the model 1 T-Hubs have been sold. 300 customers were involved in beta-testing the new version, which goes on sale from Tuesday.

Like the original model, the T-Hub 2 will be available as an outright buy ($360). However, the vast majority of customers are likely to add it as part of a Telstra bundle, where it typically costs $15 a month on a 24-month plan. That said, its inclusion in some of those bundles is essentially subsidised, so you end up paying a fixed price for a glut of services. Bundles can also include options such as free calls to four specified mobiles (provided they're all on one bill.)

Existing T-Hub owners will be offered the option to upgrade to the new model at half-price. However, any remaining payments on the original model will still have to be made.

A disappointing note for dedicated hackers: while I'm sure people will install custom Android ROMs, the 1024 by 600 display means it won't work with Windows 8 no matter how much tweaking you do (though it's a step up on the original's 800 by 480 display).

Does Android make the T-Hub 2 more tempting for you? Are you past caring about a home phone line at all? (Telstra is pitching the product squarely at families, but even in family environments mobiles are widely used.) Tell us in the comments.

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Comments

    I think I'd prefer a nexus 7 at that price, although I wouldn't mind a visual voicemail app. Hopefully it gets ported to other android devices.

      4.0 is available for upgrade on this. The reason 2.3 is the base as you may know its a more stable sodtware. 4.0 is ready to upgrade for all users

    The fact that it's launching with gingerbread would suggest that the hardware specs are too low to ever support >4.0. Saying they are looking into it will likely turn out to be disingenuous.

    Considering a nexus 7 has great specs, already runs 4.1 and is only $250. It would be hard to justify if the primary reason was to have a tablet for around the house.

    I can see an advantage if it can sync my Google contacts and numbers to the (or all) phone handset(s) then making calls from the home phone might be more palatable (given my unfortunate use of a crappy corporate mobile network for the home phone). I now tend to have my mobile in one hand looking up number and then punching into a home phone. Might make life easier. Certainly more desirable if they can get ICS on it!

    I currently have a t-hub 2 on order and due to customer loyalty and mix-ups which resulted in me returning my t-hub 1 before use, I am getting it free. I am excited about several aspects of it and for those like me who aren't really into all the newest fastest up-to-date equipment I think it should be great. I would be unlikely to go out and buy something like this from a store and have to figure out how to add all the things I want but would buy it in a bundle where all my home equipment matches. And really I don't think many people are going to be paying $360 for the device. Before the free came into it I could get the t-hub 2 for $15 a month with a further $10 a month discount for loyalty. A lot of big companies give good discounts for loyalty and bundling.

    I have a T-Hub 1 and this will go some way to making it more usable. Unfortunately the T-Hub 1 came with a rubbish handset and I would be surprised if the T2 one is any better. I think the T-Hub idea really has merit, but Telstra really had a big fail on the first one.

    Things that you should be able to do on a THub that should be first and foremost a communications hub:

    1. Contacts which easily sync between Outlook on a PC, Google Contacts, Hotmail, Apple etc.
    2. Quick call contact widget
    3. Easily searchable Whitepages and Yellow Pages using a Home page widget
    4. Email client (POP3, Hotmail, Gmail, Telstra Bigpond etc)
    5. Contact / address book sync with handsets (preferably automatically)
    6. Speaker phone through a powered dock

    Then additional things like:
    1. Web browsing (including Flash!!)
    2. Being able to view files like PDF
    3. Watch Video (You Tube and other like DivX)
    4. Play Music (through speaker dock)

    etc.

      The screen keeps freezing starting by the fact that you cannot type on it. Telstra have told me to turn it off and on 4/5 times and it SHOULD work. Yes, it did the first time, but not any more. Off we again - on the phone for 20 minutes to Telstra. It is not a reliable product.....

    Huge improvement. I sent 3 yes 3 T-Hub 1's back and gave up. This is a huge step for Telstra and if they do deliver ICS that will be terrific.

    I can recommend (at the moment)

    every now and then it makes a sound like a train, does anyone know the reason for this?

    I also returned many T-Hub 1 units and recently got the T-Hub 2. As mentioned elsewhere, this is a major improvement. My sound quality is v good, can play utube and radio stations without any lag, Great for catchng up quickly with gmail too.
    Unfortunately some apps are not compatible with it - so far Instagram & WhatsApp cannot be downloaded. Maybe because of Android Vsn 2.3. If ICS is coming, that should make it even better

    i was using the phone today and i transfered the call and now it keeps saying line busy even though it has been disconnected
    help please lol

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