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  •  Shawn
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2010-01-05T03:13:02Z
Skype has done a lot to revolutionize the way we communicate; there'shardly any arguing that. But largely the service has remained the samefor years now. It's a VoIP system, and while it has arrived on newdevices (like the iPhone), not much has changed in terms offunctionality. Until this week.

From CES in Las Vegas, Skype has announced some pretty big changes thatmost any user (or future user) would be quite interested to know about.In an effort to keep up with the high-def world, Skype now supports upto 720p HD video calling on Windows, meaning that users can now videochat at up to 1280x720 so long as their broadband connections are quickenough to support the content. Of course, you'll also need an HDwebcam, a 1.8GHz dual-core CPU and Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows, butthat's the easy part, right? In face, both FaceVsion and In StoreSolutions are both launching HD webcams that are tailor made to workwith this new blend of Skype.

Potentially more interesting is the new big announcement: Skype on yourHDTV. The feature is just what it sounds like, and it will allow freeSkype-to-Skype voice and video calls on select supporting HDTVs. BothLG and Panasonic will be offering "Skype-enabled HDTVs," with Skype'ssoftware loaded onto Panasonic's line of 2010 VIERA CAST HDTVs and LG's26 new LCD and plasma HDTV models with NetCast--both of which should beavailable by the middle of this year. We know you were thrilled aboutthat low-end DSL connection back in the day, but it looks like theworld is asking you to upgrade to something quicker if you want to keepup with the times.



High Definition Skype Video Calling

The latest version of Skype for Windows can deliver up to 720pHD-quality video calling at 1280 x 720 resolution, at up to 30 framesper second, giving individuals an even smoother and richer videocalling experience. To make an HD video call, users will need ahigh-speed broadband connection, a new HD webcam, a PC with a 1.8 GHzdual-core processor and Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows.

“With HD-quality Skype video calls, we can bring our users evencloser to the ones they love through an even richer, more meaningfulvideo calling experience,” said Josh Silverman,CEO of Skype. “Imagine being able to see the sparkle of yourgrandchild’s eyes or the setting of your best friend’s engagement ring.Through the innovation of Skype’s engineers and our hardware partners,these scenarios are now possible without having to buy expensiveequipment or software.”

New HD webcams are due to arrive in early 2010. At CES, faceVsion and In Store Solutionsintroduced new HD webcams that are optimized to work with Skype. Inorder to make HD video calling available to as many people as possible,the new Skype Certified™ HD webcams handle the video encoding andprocessing onboard, removing the need for a high-performance computerto encode the HD video.

faceVsion developed the FV TouchCam N1, an HD encoding webcamoptimized for Skype video calling. Two versions of the faceVsion webcamwill ship, beginning in February 2010: one with a microphone ($99) andone without ($69). In Store Solutions introduced two new HD encodingwebcams, the FREETALK® HD PRO ($120) and FREETALK® HD PRO PLUS ($140),which will be available in March 2010. Both the faceVsion and FREETALKwebcams will be available for purchase online via the Skype Shop.

The new HDTVs will deliver familiar Skype features including:

  • Free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls
  • Calls to landline or mobile phones at Skype’s low rates
  • The option to receive inbound calls via a user’s online Skype number
  • Skype voicemail, if it is set up
  • Being invited to participate in voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties
  • Support for up to 720p HD video calls, depending on the availability of high-speed broadband and a HD webcam

At CES, Skype announced partnerships with LG and Panasonicto offer Skype–enabled HDTVs. Skype software will be embedded intoPanasonic’s line of 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs and LG’s 26 new LCDand plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access™. Both lines areexpected to be available in mid-2010. Both LG and Panasonic will offerspecially-designed HD webcams that are optimized for Skype video callsas separate accessories that can be plugged into the televisions. Thesewebcams support 720p HD and include special microphones and optics thatcan pick up sound and video from a couch-distance.



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bob_on_the_cob
2010-01-06T11:08:43Z

720p video will rock for podcasters.

Kyouya
2010-01-06T12:05:09Z

I have just one problem with that. HD video calls will take up a tremendous amount of bandwidth. I mean, youtube HD itself takes a long time to stream...so how is this going to work smoothly exactly?

3vi1
  •  3vi1
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2010-01-06T13:14:01Z

>> so how is this going to work smoothly exactly?

Thanks to the wonderful codecs they licensed from RealMedia, it... [buffering].. will wo... [buffering][buffering].... rk lik [buffering] e a charm!

3vi1
  •  3vi1
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2010-01-06T13:27:32Z

>> 720p video will rock for podcasters.

You can podcast via Skype? I would think most people would just record a video with something like Cheese and upload it. That way you can edit it locally if you want.

I have Skype installed, but never use it - I prefer the phone apps that use open protocols (Ekiga, LinPhone, Kphone, Gizmo, Twinkle...). As is the problem with most closed-source apps on Linux: you're at the mercy of the company to implement new versions (and they don't spend a lot of time on LInux when they can't compete with the free alternatives): 2.1 is the latest Linux version Skype has released (though I don't know if there's even supposed to be parity between the Win and Linux version numbers and feature-sets).

bob_on_the_cob
2010-01-06T17:28:57Z

3vi1 wrote:

>> 720p video will rock for podcasters.

You can podcast via Skype? I would think most people would just record a video with something like Cheese and upload it. That way you can edit it locally if you want.

A lot of podcasters record video other guest or hosts in other areas with skype. Now you can have some really nice video for those people.

3vi1
  •  3vi1
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2010-01-07T11:06:30Z

Ah... now I see what you mean.

gibbersome
2010-01-25T02:02:04Z

HDTV video conferencing? Now that sounds cool. Guess I better make my next webcam purchase an HD web camera.

rapid1
2010-01-26T02:12:57Z

yeah that HD will be the next slow down for the internet when everyone is moving HD files every where.