Mobile Tech Minutes: Vidtel’s Videophone

4 Comments

[wpvideo duBTjdKr w=500]

vidtel-phone

About a week ago, I received a videophone review unit from Vidtel. It’s drop-dead easy to setup: Simply plug in the AC adapter and connect the phone to your home broadband router. The $199 device grabs an IP address and has a local phone number already assigned. Aside from the roughly 6-inch color display and .3MP web-cam, the device looks like any basic landline phone. It also offers the same features, but of course, all voice and video traffic is sent over the Internet. Another nice feature: News headlines scroll on the display when the phone isn’t in use. Unfortunately, I see no easy way to get more information on that news.

Judi Sohn of WebWorkerDaily also has a review unit, so today’s video shows the phone in use. While the phone is easy to use and can call to any mobile or landline number, the video portion is only good between two Vidtel phones for now. The company is looking at Skype video integration, however.

Like most other VoIP services for the home, you pay a monthly fee. Current monthly plan pricing ranges from $14.95 to $29.95, although there are discounts for yearly service. A Vidtel phone isn’t going to replace my daily Skype video calls by any means. For folks that don’t sit in front of computers but still want inexpensive voice service with the potential for video calls, this is worth a look.

(Note: for some reason, my camera stopped recording about 15-seconds before we concluded our call. Hence the video stops just after we discuss how the camera doesn’t “mirror” video on a call.)

4 Comments

Oliver

For $199 + monthly fee you very quickly exceed the cost of a mini notebook with Skype. I can’t imagine anyone here in your audience going for this specialized device.

CSMR

Skype integration makes all the difference. If it works with skype, then without the monthly cost $199 is reasonable and a good choice for many users. With the monthly cost the cost is multiplied by 6 given a five year life span, not worth it by a long way.

Raphael Salgado

What really bugs me about VoIP services is that they impose having a central server architecture, and therefore impose annoying and expensive monthly fees. Why can’t they make videophones that will just connect from one IP/DNS to another? Sure, it’ll only be one device for the entire household, but if you think about it, that’s all one family will need to connect to another, especially if they can hook it up to a nice big LCD TV and mount it on top.

Of course, D-Link had the right idea with the DVC-1000 a while back, but perhaps companies thought it wasn’t enough just to sell a product but a service for that will keep the income coming in1…

Yes, I’m still the conspiracy theorist.

CSMR

If you’re looking to mount something on a TV then you are the sort of user likely to have an HTPC, in which case just get a good webcam. Not sure what conferencing software is good for HTPC though.

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