Monday, January 4, 2010

Skype Moves to 720p Video Calling and Skype-Enabled HDTVs

Skype released a new version for Windows that can deliver up to 720p HD-quality video calling at 1280 x 720 resolution, at up to 30 frames per second. To make an HD video call, users will need a high-speed broadband connection, a new HD webcam, a PC with a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor and Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows. HD webcams are just starting to arrive on the market. New "Skype Certified" HD webcams from faceVsion and In Store Solutions will handle the video encoding and processing onboard, removing the need for a high-performance computer to encode the HD video.

In addition, Skype announced plans to integrate its service into Internet-enabled HDTVs. This support will enabled HDTVs to deliver free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls, calls to landline or mobile phones at Skype's off-net rates, the option to receive inbound calls via a user's online Skype number, Skype voicemail, if it is set up, voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties, and support for up to 720p HD video calls, depending on the availability of high-speed broadband and a HD webcam.

Skype confirmed partnerships with LG and Panasonic to offer Skype--enabled HDTVs. Skype software will be embedded into Panasonic's line of 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs and LG's 26 new LCD and plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access. Both lines are expected to be available in mid-2010. Both LG and Panasonic will offer specially-designed HD webcams that are optimized for Skype video calls as separate accessories that can be plugged into the televisions. These webcams support 720p HD and include special microphones and optics that can pick up sound and video from a couch-distance.