Revisiting Video Calling To The Living Room, Yet Again

This is a topic that seemingly will not go away, yet it’s not clear that there’s much uptake by customers. Going back two years, the first wave of “Smart HDTVs” were capable of running an embedded Skype application. With the addition of an optional camera/microphone module HDTVs from Samsung, Panasonic and others were able to provide 720p video calling from point-to-point.

While a curiosity, this capability was initially limited to the high-end models that priced around $3K. Then you had to add the optional camera module, which cost an additional $200-300. In addition, there were reports of interoperability issues with other types of Skype clients. Your pricey HDTV might not be able to call a Mac or  PC-based Skype client.

To be sure, the cost of smart HDTVs has been falling, making such capability available at prices closer to $1K. Even so, it’s just not clear to me that embedded video calling in smart TVs was the revolution that some expected. Asking around I’ve yet to find anyone who found the Smart TV apps a compelling argument for replacing their existing HDTV.

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Rich Tehrani on Cisco’s UMI

I don’t always agree with TMC’s Rich Tehrani, but with respect to Cisco’s UMI I do believe that he has the situation nailed when he posted, “10 Reasons Why Cisco Umi Telepresence Will Fail.” In fact, I think that stopping at ten was a kindness in Cisco’s direction.

There are so many players in this space that simply do consumer electronics better than Cisco that I simply can’t see UMI getting much traction in it’s current form. Starting with Logitech other companies will soon be in the space with better devices…better user experience…better support…better prices…just plain better.

And just in case you’re wondering about Google TV, well Rakesh Agrawal, CEO of Houston based Snapstream, has I think some very insightful thoughts on the matter.