Want a home phone that does something a little more 21st century? AT&T has started rolling out its HomeManager package, which includes a wireless touch screen device with Internet access and speakerphone, in nine major cities.
In addition to the device that AT&T is calling a "frame," and includes a 7-inch color display, HomeManager comes with a cordless handset and a base station. In addition to being able to place calls with the handset, you can also make calls with the frame via its built-in speakerphone. Calls can be made over an AT&T landline or using VoIP. The touch screen unit offers visual voice mail a la the iPhone, as well as e-mail access and a variety of online content (sports, weather, news, etc.). It also provides address book syncing with an AT&T cell phone through the AT&T Mobile Backup application. The frame comes with 256MB of internal memory, along with a USB port and a SD card slotthese can be used to turn the device into a digital photo frame. In addition to letting you access the interface via touch, the gadget also includes a stylus.
In order to use HomeManager, you must agree to a two-year AT&T High Speed Internet agreement (or already have the service) or a bundle that includes the company's U-verse TV and voice calling services. You'll also need a router. You'll need to be willing to fork over $299 for the package, too. At that price, the home-phone revolution AT&T envisions with HomeManager will be slow in coming, though it will be up to customers in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, San Diego, and San Francisco to decide how much they want to invest in the future of the home phone.