One of the new bits of tech that has grabbed a bit of attention lately has been a Skype camera designed for use with a regular HD TV from a new startup called TelyLabs. Whilst video Skype has been possible with a Mac, PC, Linux and various mobile devices for a long while, and a number of TV manufacturers provide Skype support on some TV’s this is a general unit for use with any HD TV.
It is being sold as a really simple solution for families looking to talk to friends from the living room, which is why we picked one up. Whilst we have used Skype and the Apple specific FaceTime quite successfully to talk to people, using it with the kids tends to result in a lot of distractions – whether that be fiddling with the mouse, touchscreen or whatever, plus the camera and microphone are generally positioned for a single user.
The TelyHD is different. The camera is set up for a group of people sat on a sofa a little way away, similarly it has an array four noise cancelling microphones across the front designed to pick up sound from any direction. Using it today myself and Beth sat on two different chairs and Lucy running back and forth across the room showing Grandma things.
On the other end was an iMac running the regular version of Skype and that hooked up without problems. The two ends negotiated the quality up and down as the network traffic changed over the call, everyone could see and hear, and aside from the initial confusion as to why we were talking to Grandma on the TV Lucy seemed to really enjoy the call. The quality apparently improves if the callers at both ends have a TelyHD, but it works fine with any Skype on the other end.
Technically the box is running Android with a customised Skype client. The whole thing can be operated from an included remote, including the signup for Skype, and there is a simple set of instructions and on screen wizard to walk you through the whole setup process. All in all it’s a really simple solution that even somebody relatively non-technical could manage to set up. Also having been designed from the outset for use in the living room it works a lot better for a family than the current experience clustered around a laptop.
Price wise it’s a bit more than the add on cameras for TV’s that support Skype, but then bear in mind that there is a bit more tech in the unit whereas most of the TV based cameras are making use of hardware in the TV. However at just under £200 in the UK it’s not going to break the bank. UK distribution is through a company called Chat and Vision who sell through Amazon as well as their own website and the Skype website.