I’ve been involved in computer graphics all my adult life. That may seem a bit counter-intuitive as I was schooled in the technology of music and recording. However, I’ve spend my working life in video and broadcast production.
The one time I took a bit of a sabbatical from the world of television I went to work for a small magazine, where I was still involved in print layout and production using early MacIntosh computers. That’s when I discovered that I like to write. It’s also where I first encountered Adobe Photoshop and Quark Xpress.
This finally brings me to the topic of this little-thing-that’s-quickly-devolving-into-a-rant. I simply cannot believe how often I encounter poor-quality images as aspects of otherwise professionally created online properties. I’m surprised that design professionals would submit shoddy work, not-quite-so-surprised that customers accept it.
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.
It seems that there’s a new wave of devices emerging that aim to provide high-quality video calling by way of the family TV.
This is not unfamiliar territory as both Cisco and Google have been in the space for some time. Cisco had their UMI device and associated service. Google had with the video calling capabilities built into Google TV, as exemplified by Logitech’s Revue.
It very clear that none of these prior efforts have made the kind of inroads that had been expected. Umi is no more. Logitech admitted that they took a bath on the Google TV and killed off Revue. Google seems to be continuing the Google TV effort, but it’s unclear where it’s heading.