Skype announced earlier this year that it was looking to bring video conferencing into the living room, with deals to embed its software onto HDTVs from LG and Panasonic. Now it’s expanding the number of TVs that will carry it, adding two new LED TV lines from Samsung into the mix.
Skype video conferencing will be available immediately on Samsung LED 7000 and 8000 series televisions sold in the Korean market, with worldwide availability later in the first half of 2010. Since the Samsung TVs don’t have built-in cameras, consumers that want to enable video conferencing from their living rooms will also need to purchase a standalone video camera that is designed to work with the TVs (priced at around $100 to $200).
When Skype first announced its TV video conferencing plans at CES, I had this to say:
“The plan to move video conferencing to the big screen makes sense, as anyone who’s ever used Skype for teleconferencing knows. While the ability to make free video calls is nice and convenient, speaking into a laptop or desktop web cam isn’t the greatest user experience, a fact that has been borne out in Skype’s own experience research.”
Adding even more devices through which Skype users can connect to the service only makes sense. However, making consumers buy a separate video camera seems like a barrier to entry for most consumers. I’m looking forward to the day when built-in cameras are standard on HDTV sets, and we can Skype with them straight out of the box.
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