In 2015, Verizon entered the popular OBD-II device market with its Hum device. We spent some time with the Verizon Hum, and found it offered a variety of smart features that brought some intelligence to your older vehicle. Verizon has since launched the Hum X, which improves upon those basic features and adds a Wi-Fi hot spot to your vehicle. We plugged in to see if the new Hum X is the perfect device to keep track of your car and keep you connected on the road.
The Hum X will initially cost $99, and can only be purchased and activated through a Verizon store. You will also need to pay a one-time $20 activation fee, as well as $15 per month with a two-year agreement. If you are an existing Verizon customer, you can simply add the Hum X to a shared family data plan. With a shared plan, your Wi-Fi hot spot data will draw from your monthly data allowance. The monthly cost totals up to $180 per year, and is less expensive than the AT&T-powered ZTE Mobley ($20/month) but more expensive than the Verizon-powered Zubie device ($10/month).
The Verizon Hum X package includes the OBD-II device and brushed aluminum Hum X Speaker that clips to your visor. The Hum Speaker has a premium feel, and features a touch display to call upon the Verizon Customer Service or Emergency Assistance hotlines. Setup is easy, as the OBD-II dongle plugs into most 1996 or newer vehicles and automatically connects to the Verizon Hum X application on your mobile phone.
Once your vehicle is on, you can search for and connect to the Hum X Wi-Fi using the login on the back of the Hum X Speaker. The Wi-Fi system allows for up to 10 separate connections. The Verizon Hum X Speaker has the added benefit of also handling Bluetooth calls for your mobile phone. Simply hold the call button and then search for the Hum X in your Bluetooth settings. Bluetooth calling is a very nice feature to have in an older vehicle, and making and answering calls couldn’t be any easier.
Logging your drive
The heart of the Verizon Hum X service lies within the Verizon Hum mobile application for Android and iOS. The application is free, and many of the features are available even without paying for the Hum X device. The application offers navigation, keeps track of your trips, and handles 100 percent of the tracking for the driver Safety Score.
Verizon Hum X offers one of the strongest 4G LTE networks for in-car Wi-Fi with many handy Roadside Assistance features.
You read that correctly, the Hum X doesn’t use any of the actual OBD-II data to create your score, and instead uses your phone’s GPS and accelerometer. This is quite strange, as most of the competition uses the car’s data to give a more accurate score. The Verizon Hum app will also track trips in other vehicles when you are not driving, but you will have to remove them manually later if you only want to track your personal score.
Within the application, you are able to see your score for each drive, trends in your driving score, and the factors that Hum considered to get to your score. We averaged a respectable low-70s score, and were dragged down a bit for hard braking in traffic. The main page of the Hum application will also display the total miles, total fuel consumed, and the maximum speed that was driven during that particular week. You can then drill down to get more details on each trip by day, week, month, or year. There is also a custom tracking feature to allow you to group drives during a specific date range. However, the driving data is still not as accurate as competition from Zubie or Mobley, since they use the car’s internal computer to track things like fuel consumption, acceleration, and engine load.
Help when and where you need it
When connected to the Hum X OBD-II reader, the Hum app will also provide vehicle diagnostics, boundary alerts, roadside service, and vehicle location information. The vehicle diagnostics feature will alert you in the application of any check engine lights or warnings from your car’s computer. You can then press the Verizon Hum support button on the speaker to be connected with the support hotline. Through Verizon customer service, a mechanic can look at the code and let you know what is wrong with your car and if it is safe to drive to your destination. We had no issues connecting to the Verizon customer service line and they were very helpful with any questions we had about the services during our test calls.
Roadside Assistance service is also included with any Hum X subscription and includes things like tire service, towing (up to 10 miles), battery jump-start, fuel delivery, and even winching if you happen to slide down an embankment. There are some limitations to the service — a customer can only make use of the Roadside Assistance service four times per subscription year. This roadside service sets Hum X apart from other vehicle-tracking services. The system can even detect if you have been in an accident and connect automatically.
The Verizon Hum X OBD-II device also has a built-in GPS to allow you to locate your vehicle within the Hum application. You can even set a boundary alert within the application to alert you when a driver leaves a specified region. In testing, this feature did eventually alert us but warnings would often come hours after leaving the set boundary. This could be an issue if your car is taken and you are unable to react quickly. The vehicle location tracker also had issues locating our car when it was left parked in a parking garage for a couple days.Our Take
The new Verizon Hum X offers one of the strongest 4G LTE networks for in-car Wi-Fi, with many handy Roadside Assistance features. But growing competition and issues with some vehicle-tracking features make this a less-than-perfect package.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes, if you are looking for strong in-car Wi-Fi and better vehicle-tracking features, the Zubie costs about the same (when factoring in data cost) and performs better. Only those swayed by the addition of Roadside Assistance will find the Hum X a better deal.
How long will it last?
One thing you can count on is that both Verizon and the Hum X will outlive most of the competition. While several other small startup devices, like Vinli, have changed names and partnerships, the Hum service has remained consistent.
Should you buy it?
No, if you really aren’t sold on Bluetooth calling and Roadside Assistance, then the Zubie offers the same features with no additional contracts to sign.