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Telstra has released its next-generation telephone system, exclusive to Telstra landline and BigPond Internet customers. iTWire has purchased one and tried it out; let us tell you what you need, what works and what doesn't.

The T-Hub wants to become a 'hub' in your home - a hub for media, information, and, naturally, communications. While I don't see its entertainment features replacing a media centre anytime soon (after all, it only has a 7' screen) there's no doubting it is a good step towards a converged telephone and Internet solution.

First things first; the T-Hub plugs into your existing analogue landline. It doesn't use Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and to be honest, that's not a bad thing given this is aimed at residential customers. It will also tap in to your existing WiFi network for Internet access. Telstra cite their own services - that is, Telstra fixed line telephone services and Telstra BigPond - as pre-requisites for the T-Hub to work. I am sure you could make the unit work on other networks although with more or less features missing.

The box contains three main components. The first is the T-Hub itself with charging base. Next is a cordless handset again with a charging base. The third item is the base station for the telephone signal which is a fairly non-descript unit save for a flashing blue light. This latter item plugs into your phone line and communicates with both the T-Hub and the cordless handset.

The fact you get a base station gives extra flexibility in where you position the T-Hub in your home. It doesn't have to be near a phone socket at all. So long as it is in range of both the base unit and your WiFi signal it will operate fine.

You can purchase the T-Hub outright for $299 which is what I did. Alternatively, you can pay for it on a repayment plan over two years.

Either way, take it home, open the box and plug it all in and you're on your way.

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.

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