Verizon Communications is trying to keep customers tied to the old idea of a home phone with updates to its new Verizon Hub.
The Verizon Hub, which was introduced earlier this year, is essentially a souped-up voice-over IP handset. It's designed to be the main phone and communication "hub" for the household, providing not only phone service, but also sports, weather, and other news.
But given the device's hefty price tag of $199 with a two-year contract, it seems a bit steep for consumers who can already get that information and functionality from their cell phones. In addition to the pricey cost of the hardware, Verizon also requires a $35-a-month phone service. While this VoIP service is cheaper than Verizon's regular phone service, it's pricey considering that Vonage and other providers offer similar services for about $20 a month.
Verizon is selling the device through Verizon Wireless and the service is offered to all consumers and is not limited to users in the Verizon broadband or wireline telephone territory.
As part of the upgrade, Verizon is offering more Widgets for the device that include instructional cooking videos and games. The company is also launching a new application storefront where users can download applications for the device, much like they do for smartphones like Apple's iPhone.
My colleague Nicole Lee from CNET Reviews gave the device high marks when she tested it, but she also noted the high price tag as potential deterrent. And I tend to agree. At a time when people are cutting the phone cord and using their cell phones to reduce their monthly expenses, it seems ridiculous that they would be willing to spend an additional $200 on a new device plus $35 a month on a phone service.