Umi, Revue, Kinect: Which Is Best for HDTV Video Chat?
Thu Oct 7, 1:23 pm ET
Logitech yesterday announced the Revue with Google TV, a $299.99 set-top box that lets you access the Web, run Google Android apps, view media from networked computers, and more, all on your HDTV.
In the "and more" category is video calling. In order to video conference with the Revue, you'll have to purchase an additional Logitech TV Cam for $149.99, but you'll be able to place and receive video calls in 720p. The TV cam uses an app called Logitech Vid HD and you can communicate with other Logitech Vid HD users, either with Revue boxes, or Webcam-enabled Macs or Windows PCs. The Revue is available for pre-order and will ship before the end of the month.
Also announced yesterday is a $599 product from Cisco called the ūmi. Compared with the Logitech Revue Google TV product, the Cisco ūmi is all about video calling on your HDTV, and doesn't offer any other features, but it delivers 1080p resolution, compared with Logitech's 720p. The Cisco ūmi's hefty price tag includes the necessary hardware, but also requires a $24.99 per month fee for service. Ūmi users can make calls to other ūmi users or to those on Google Video Chat, which works on Mac, Windows, and Linux PCs. Ūmi is available for pre-order and will ship next month.
In November, Microsoft will also jump into the video-calling game with its forthcoming Kinect motion-based controller The $149.99 Kinect will allow users to play Xbox 360 video games without a controller, but since it requires a camera for motion sensing, it can also handle video calls. If you already own an Xbox, Kinect will cost your $149.99, if not, you can buy a bundle with the console and the controller with camera for $299.99. There's no word yet on video-call resolution, but Microsoft has announced that Windows users will be able to call other Kinect users and Microsoft Windows Live Messenger 2011. (A Mac version has not been announced.)
If you don't want to wait, Panasonic currently offers Skype on its G Series and VT Series Web-enabled HDTVs, and you can place video calls in 720p. Prices start at $1099.95 for a 42-inch 1080p plasma, but you have to buy an additional $169.95 camera to make video calls. You can communicate with Skype users on Viera Cast-enabled Panasonic HDTVs, or Skype iMac, PC, Linux, or mobile device users.
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