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Brier Dudley's Blog | Comcast, Skype connect for HD video calls | Seattle Times Newspaper
Comcast to Offer HD Phone Calls On TV
Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2011) -- Comcast announced late yesterday that it has partnered with Skype to enable its cable subscribers to communicate with family and friends though HD video phone calls on their HDTVs.
The cable operator was expected to unveil news about a 'secret' new video product this week at the Cable Show in Chicago and this appears to be it.
Comcast said Skype trials will begin in "the coming months" and that more details such as pricing will be revealed later this year. The service will be delivered on Comcast's customer HDTV through an adaptor box, a "high-quality" video camera and a specially designed remote control that enables customers to text on Skype as well as control their televisions.
Plus, the other calling party will not need special equipment other than what is needed to use Skype, which means that a Comcast/Skype user could talk with a non-Comcast subscriber who has Skype.
The companies said the service will also offer the following features: * Make and receive Skype video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a television while watching their favorite TV show at the same time, and accept incoming calls during a TV show with the help of Caller ID.
* Make and receive video and audio calls, or send instant messages via Skype on a compatible mobile phone or tablet.
* Import friends to their address book from their Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and smartphone contact lists, find them on Skype and see when contacts are online and available to talk.
Our unique relationship with Skype not only will change how our customers interact with their TV, but also will create new and meaningful ways to bring our customers closer to the people they care about, said Neil Smit, President, Comcast Cable. TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more, and brings friends and family together through the biggest screen in their homes.
The video phone call is certainly nothing new; in fact, the idea has been floating around for decades. (The 1964 World's Fair in New York featured a video phone exhibit.)
However, until recently, consumers have been uninterested in making video phone calls due to privacy concerns. After all, who wants a friend or even a family member to see how you look sitting around the house?
But today's heightened sense of social media tools might make the video call an idea whose time has finally come. Apple's 'Face Time' video chat feature on the iPhone 4 has been a hit and Skype has already enjoyed some success with its Net-based service.
Plus, today's technology makes the video phone call a more pleasurable experience. In high-def, many Comcast customers might enjoy chatting on their TVs with their friends -- even if they are wearing that dingy, old t-shirt that dates back, well, to the 1964 World's Fair.
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