Tech Review: Hum X by Verizon

We spend SO much time in our cars.  We drive with our families, with our friends and often our family drives while we’re at home.  We don’t always think about the “what ifs.”  What if I get in an accident?  What if my car breaks down?  What if my teen driver doesn’t follow my rules when I’m not there?  The Hum X by Verizon is designed to help you think of those “what ifs.”

Installation

There are 2 parts to Hum X.  The main device plugs into your OBD-II port under your steering column.  This is how the Hum X is powered and collects information from your car.  The second piece is a rechargable speaker/microphone device that clips to your visor.  In my testing I usually got 3-4 weeks of standby time between charges.

Installation is easy.  Any car that is 1996 or newer will have an OBD-II port located under the steering column.  Once you find that port, just push the Hum X device into the port.  Again, the second piece just needs to be charged up.  The longest part of the process is the guided setup on the iPhone or Android app.  I tested the Hum X using the Android Hum app.

The Hum X is basically a cell phone without a screen.  It has a data connection, GPS and brains to power it.  It connects to the speaker/microphone too.  What this means for you is some pretty cool features.

Safety

The Hum X is similar OnStar service on steroids but you’re not required to have, of course, to have any hardware pre-installed in your car.  The Hum X collects information from your car to let you know if something isn’t right.  There is an “Auto Health” screen that shows the current status of various components of you car.  If your car spits out an error code, it can help you catch and identify what might be wrong.

The Hum X gives you access to a free mechanic hotline if you have questions.  You also get 24/7 roadside assistance similar to a service like AAA.  Need gas?  Need a tow?  You can summon that help from the Hum X app and because the Hum X has a GPS they’ll know exactly where you are.

The Hum X can also summon emergency services, just push the emergency button on the clip-on speaker device.  If the Hum X detects a collision, it’ll call emergency services automatically.

Safety is one of the highlight features of the Hum X.  It’s designed to watch over your car and watch over you and your family.  I think they did a good job of covering all of the bases here.

Keep an eye on other drivers

The Hum X also lets you keep an eye on your car and other drivers who are using your car.  At any time you can load up the Hum app and see exactly where your car is located.  This could be critical if your car is ever stolen!  It could also be a huge help if you have a teen driver in your home.

The Hum X can send you alerts about your car too.  You can set certain zones and have the Hum X notify you if your car enters or leaves those zones.  Don’t want your teen going more than 20 miles from your home?  Easy, setup a 20 mile zone around your home.  You can also be notified if your car exceeds a certain speed!  Your teens are going to hate this but it can give you peace of mind knowing they’re following the law.

Oh yeah… there’s more!  

As if all of this isn’t enough, the Hum X also doubles as a wi-fi hotspot inside your car!  I tested the Hum X on a road trip from Colorado to Ohio.  My kids were thrilled to hear that they would have access to YouTube and Netflix while we were on the road.  Just keep in mind that it’s limited to cell phone coverage.  When we were out in the middle of the planes we definitely had a few spots where there wasn’t solid coverage and therefore the wi-fi didn’t work to stream video.  It’s a nice touch to a device that could easily be a great product without the wi-fi.

Things I’d change 

My biggest complaint about the Hum X is that I feel like the app could use a little more work.  I have a 1 year old Samsung Galaxy S7 running the latest version of Android and the app seemed sluggish at times.  It also crashed on a somewhat regular basis in my tests.

Be sure to turn off the safety score feature if you like your smartphone battery.  In my testing, it was sucking my battery big time and when I turned it if, it fixed the problem.  I’m told the feature uses your smartphone’s sensors unlike most other features that use the sensors inside the Hum X module.

In my testing there were also times when the app couldn’t correctly locate my car even though it had been on the road for a good 20 minutes.  Usually a quick reset of the app fixed the problem but it happened more than once.

Overall

The Hum X by Verizon is no one-trick pony.  This thing does it all!  Frankly I was impressed by how many different features are included!  If you don’t have OnStar and don’t have roadside assistance, those features on their own would be worth the price.  The car health and mechanics hotline features are an added bonus along with the wi-fi hotspot and vehicle tracking.  This thing is cool and hopefully a few app updates will smooth out the kinks I noticed in my testing.

The Hum X by Verizon sells for $100 (with a 2 year contract) or $150 (without a contract) on Verizon Wireless.  The service will cost about $20/month if you don’t have existing Verizon service and it includes 1GB of data usage.