Review: Telstra T-Hub 2
‘T for Terrific – Telstra T-Hub 2 brings Android to everyone.’
|Does everything your Android mobile does||Screen not overly responsive at times, scrolling can be challenging|
|Feels snappy due to very vanilla Gingerbread||Can get heavy in the hand after a while|
|Full Play Store access – every tested app worked||Unit heats up considerably compared to more expensive units|
|Speakerphone dock adds immense use as DAB Radio or Movie Player|
|HDMI out, Micro USB and SD card access (full size)|
When Telstra launched the original T-Hub, there were many owners who initially loved it, but wanted more from it. Sure it could take calls, access some apps such as the White and Yellow Pages and some other basic tasks. However, there was no substance, no real platform on which to build. Then, with the great tablet wars between Apple and Android, the T-Hub was quickly left behind.
We are pleased to say, that with the T-Hub 2, Telstra has enlisted to bring Android to everyone. What Telstra have done with the T-Hub 2 is put Android front and centre in the home. They have delivered a terrific platform for everyone to enjoy; one that is central to everyone’s needs.
T-Hub 2 consists of a 7″ Android powered Gingerbread tablet with a 1Ghz Dual Core CPU and 1GB of RAM and a 1024 x 600 resolution. OK, so those specs aren’t going to get you forgetting your Nexus or Galaxy Tab. But the specs work, and like the Galaxy Nexus, the T-Hub 2 punches far above its spec sheet. Telstra have left well enough alone, and Gingerbread is allowed to exist in all its vanilla glory. Without some huge UI to bog it down, the T-Hub 2 just works, and works well.
WHAT WE LIKED
The T-Hub 2 from Telstra is a real multi-tasker due in part to its loudspeaker dock. Yes that’s right, Telstra have thrown in a quality loudspeaker charging dock as the base for the T-Hub 2. It has a home, and I found most often using the T-Hub 2 in its loudspeaker dock housing.
First thing I found myself doing was looking for a radio app, of which Telstra have included as standard. Tune In is a fantastically simple radio that that finds all your local stations and more in a couple of clicks. It allows you to record songs and store them for later playback and set a list of top stations for easy access. The sound from the loudspeaker dock is ample to hear through the house and even out in the backyard – it certainly has saved me from investing in a DAB!
My second most used app was YouTube. This was simply because I could queue up a favourite or search my channels. I could play a movie whilst doing the cooking, eating or cleaning up; even queue up some music videos! Such is the versatility of the T-Hub 2 in its loudspeaker dock!
I found the sound from the speakerdock equal to our Logitech iPod clock/radio system which is usually more than enough for around the home. The fact the tablet docks straight in is, dare I say, Apple-esque and does not require any further leads or plug-ins was really refreshing from an Android product.
Being Android based is of course my other major like! I found in no time I had customised the T-Hub 2 with all of my favourite apps, widgets and wallpapers. Browsing the net, using Telstra’s apps or even checking my accounts with QuickBooks was all achieved simply and easily on the 7″ Tablet, which is just the right size for almost all tasks.
Graphics-wise I found the tablet coping well with games such as Angry Birds Space, Where’s My Water and Temple Run. No lag, no fuss. The display was impressive too with the 7″ 1024 x 600 screen.
And let’s not forget the main purpose of the T-Hub 2. It is as an extension via DECT of your home phone! Yes that’s right, call up your contacts (synced to both your Bigpond and Gmail accounts) using your Telstra full service home phone account. This is particularly useful again on the loudspeaker dock for those that may require some assistance with their hearing or for busy mums and dads!
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE
My only real gripes with the T-Hub 2 were:
- Weight: At 216 x 127 x 14.5mm, the T-Hub 2 is small yet thick and very solidly built in the hand. This on the one hand is good as it does have great build quality, but after a while, for a 7″ Tablet, it really starts to weigh down on you.
- Heat: I found when undocked and sitting on the couch browsing the net, Facebooking or YouTubing, the T-Hub 2 did get quite warm in my hands, which is a little discomforting for a 1Ghz stock standard tablet.
- Sensitivity. Whilst sporting a capacitive touch screen, I found that at times either the touchscreen was way too over-sensitive, or at other times did not respond at all. It took quite some time to get used to the amount of touch required to scroll up and down screens, and especially removing and placing Widgets on the home screen. I found trying to remove Widgets from the home screen to be infuriating at least once or twice. You see, when you long hold on a Widget, the Recycle Bin takes the place of the Gingerbread dock, however then dragging a Widget over to the Recycle Bin would more often than that call up the Dock and place the Widget back in its place. After some time I mastered it though! 4) Resolution. Most of the time the lower resolution really didn’t matter with Apps able to scale without an issue. The only real app I had an issue with was Facebook, which seemingly just could not scale to fit either landscape or portrait, although it was much better in portrait mode, as was Flipboard.
The T-Hub 2 is really very well specified and built for its price and target market. Compared with other low cost tablets in the market, you do get a lot of options with the T-Hub 2. From Micro HDMI out, to Micro USB 2.0 and full-size SD card access. The unit is very well built, and it features capacitive touch buttons to the right of the screen for Home, Search, Menu and Back – in true Android fashion. There is a physical power button on the top right edge, an IR sensor to the left of the power button controls T-Box and other IR functions; then on the top left corner is also a physical volume rocker button.
The design is very simple and striking, and if I may re-iterate the build quality: this is a solidly built unit and feels much more expensive than it is. The same goes for the telephone handset, telephone dock and tablet speakerphone dock.
|Operating System||Gingerbread 2.3.x|
|Processor||1 GHz dual core|
|Screen||7″ (1024 x 600 pixels)|
|Camera||1.9 MP rear camera,1.2 MP HD front camera|
|Storage||2 GB Internal with an expandable Micro SD card slot|
There is a lot to like about T-Hub 2: it really becomes the centre of the household’s entertainment and communication needs. The excellent quality speakerdock is simply an indispensable add-on (which it ships with), and not only does it provide a central home for the unit, but really extends the usefulness far beyond a regular tablet.
From educational apps for the kids, to Facebook, to Youtube, to QuickBooks, to Radio, to Angry Birds or controlling your T-Box; with full Google Play Store access, you can do everything you would normally expect to do (with any other Android phone or tablet), with your T-Hub 2. There wasn’t a single tested Android app that wouldn’t run or wasn’t compatible.
For existing Android users, you will feel right at home. Think Dell Streak – that’s really what the T-Hub 2 reminds me of, and having owned one, it’s the closest analogy to an existing Android device that I could draw on. Only instead of using a SIM card for dialling and SMS’ing, it uses your home phone.
The only dislikes I could really write about are not really dislikes at all, really just some things I noticed when using or found mildly frustrating; don’t let these items distract you from a very good product.
The unit is very well built, no doubt to endure the roughness of family life, however this is also a detracting feature as the unit does get quite heavy in the hand after a while and it did get quite warm on several occasions when heavily multitaksing – for example, when browsing Facebook and looking at Youtube videos and following Twitter feeds in TweetDeck.
From time to time, the screen is either not responsive enough, or too responsive, depending on the app. The low (ish) res screen has trouble sometime scaling photos correctly in Facebook hence not leaving a lot of real estate for scrolling with, which mean you’re often opening photos up when you wanted to scroll down the page for example.
But really, as I said above, these are really just some things I noticed when using or found mildly frustrating; they certainly shouldn’t be a reason to avoid a solid product.
With all things considered, I am glad I was given the opportunity to test the T-Hub 2 from Telstra. I have come away very pleasantly surprised. As I stated earlier on, it is easy on paper to criticize the tablet as low spec and behind the times (1Ghz Dual Core and Gingerbread), however due to the fact that Telstra have let Android shine and not bog it down with some overly memory intensive UI is very rewarding and refreshing.
It also supports external memory and has HDMI out!
The T-Hub 2 is a real family entertainer and will no doubt bring much usefulness and entertainment to those that take ownership. Bear in mind, T-Hub 2 does require a full service home phone and internet from Telstra.
The cost is $15 per month in a bundle or $360 outright. You really do get a lot for your money and I could certainly see a place for the T-Hub 2 in my own household!