Skype is a service that lets you make free phone calls between computers using your broadband connection. What many people don’t realize is that close to a third of those calls are video calls, where you get to see the people you’re talking to. We use this feature all the time, and even have added a Web camera to the large-screen HDTV in our living room so that we can make life-size calls to friends and family, especially our grandaughter who turns two this week.
But we may not need the Web camera — or the living room computer for that matter — if we buy a new LG or Panasonic television. Skype announced yesterday that both of those companies plan to add support for HD video phone calls using Skype to select models of their NetTVs this year. The sets already have a network connection, so all they need to add is some software and a Web cam.
This is a differentiating feature that I predicted back in September, so I’m not surprised to see that it’s happening now. With all the talk about 3DTV here at CES 2010, this Skype feature may get lost in the noise. But I think it’s significant news; it’s a feature that millions of people are using today, so unlike 3DTV, we won’t have to wait for content in order to put it to use right away.