Is That Your TV Ringing? Skype Comes To Your Flat Screen

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Another TV development drops in a week that promises to be chalk full of ’em.

Skype announced that it’s bringing its service to HDTVs in 2010 with the help of partners Panasonic and LG. Skype software will come already embedded into Panasonic’s 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs and LG’s new line of LCD and plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access. You’ll be able to set your TV to log you into Skype each time you turn it on, or if you like, you can choose to turn it on or off manually. Pretty cool, but here’s the hitch: Webcam not included. Both LG and Panasonic will make the HD-specific webcams (720p HD) that can be plugged into the TV, with prices bouncing from $100 to $200. Other webcams won’t be compatible for the HD technology due to lower resolution and depth. Skype’s Director of Business Development Manrique Brenes assured me that the cameras are able to catch sight and sound from couch distance – up to 4 meters (just more than 13 feet) – eliminating the need to change your couch potato status.

More on Techland: FLO TV Personal TV: Being A Couch Potato Has Never Been Easier

Much like the Web version, all Skype-to-Skype calls will be free, though Brenes says they may start charging for extra features in the future, calling the notion “a work in progress.” Extras are likely to include the conference call capability and voice mail. Incoming calls pop up on your screen, much like they do online, in a small box in the corner. You can answer or ignore, though I discovered that if you answer, your TV will not pause automatically. (Not a huge deal, but it would be nice.)

I’m not sure this will be a huge draw for everyone right away, but it is a nice option for families. Besides, Brenes has a point: “It’s a lot easier to get your family in front of the camera in the living room than crammed around a laptop.”

Compare and Contrast:

I knew I had seen this before. Check out Back To The Future ll‘s Marty McFly on his futuristic TV Video Conference (set in 2015) followed by a Skype in HDTV pic:

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