Earlier this month, Skype announced its support for progressive, full-raster HD 720p (1280×720) on Windows computers, and is to be embedded in certain consumer HDTV sets. For readers unfamiliar with it, Skype is free software for Mac & Windows computers -in addition to certain mobile phones and other handheld mobile devices- which facilitates 1-on-1 or multi-user communication. Skype software offers any combination of text chat, high-quality audio chat, and video chat (device dependent). Regardless of the device used at either end, all Skype-to-Skype communication is free (less the cost of the device itself and the Internet connection. In addition, at extremely low cost, Skype optionally offers the placing Skype calls to POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) numbers, and/or receiving POTS calls via Skype. As has been Skype’s historical fashion, the company has upgraded the Windows versions of the software first, although I expect the HD capability added to the Mac version shortly. Skype is also used for remote invitees in TV talk shows, and the addition of HD 720p will certainly augment its use in that application.
Skype’s explanation for embedding in HDTV sets
Josh Silverman, CEO of Skype, put it quite well:
“Skype has made video calling easy, free and accessible. Today, 34% of all Skype-to-Skype calls include video. In addition, the number one reason why Skype users enjoy video calling is because it makes them feel more connected to friends and family… This is very exciting for us. TVs are a logical and natural platform for video communications. TVs will no longer be just the center of people’s entertainment experience, but have the potential to be the center of people’s communications experience.”
Here, more Skype team members add their comments:
Click on the video above to play.
First consumer HDTV sets with Skype embedded
The first two manufacturers to announce consumer HDTV sets with Skype embedded are LG Electronics and Panasonic. Surprisingly, the first models announced by both manufacturers do not have any built-in webcam, but suggest the user acquire a compatible one separately. Obviously, these HDTV sets will require a broadband Internet connection, and Skype recommends a minimum of 1 Mb/s symmetrical bandwidth.
All LG’s 2010 HDTVs with their NetCast Entertainment Access feature will feature embedded Skype software. Peter Reiner, senior VP of marketing:
“Embedding the Skype software in our broadband HDTVs enriches the user experience, allowing consumers to connect with family and friends from the comfort of their family room without a PC.”
Skype joins other content offered with LG’s NetCast Enterntainment Access, like CinemaNow, Netflix, and YouTube.
All Panasonic’s 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs planned for launch in spring 2010 will feature embedded Skype software. Bob Perry, Vice President, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company:
“The addition of Skype to our VIERA CAST offerings truly takes HDTV connectivity to a whole new level… VIERA CAST was created to offer Panasonic VIERA HDTV owners a new level of entertainment by giving them access to some of the most popular content-driven web sites.”
Skype joins a growing list of web-based offerings on Panasonic’s VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs including Amazon Video On Demand, Picasa Web Albums, YouTube, Bloomberg News, and weather information.
Skype’s first certified HD webcams
So far, Skype has certified 720p webcams from two different manufacturers. Check out my related article, Skype’s certified HD webcams for details.
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