Skype and Logitech have announced the TV Cam HD, a high-definition video conferencing camera said to be compatible with any HDTV that offers HDMI input. Priced at $199.99, the device comes loaded with Skype on board and also includes built-in Wi-Fi and ethernet, so you won't need an internet-ready TV to bring the video chat experience into your living room.
You'll need both a free HDMI port and electrical outlet
Logitech says setting up the camera is a simple affair which involves plugging in the dedicated power supply and hooking it into your HDTV via an open HDMI port. From there, Skype users sign in just as they typically would on a PC or smartphone, though doing so may be a chore judging by the barebones remote that's included. Those new to the service can also register an account directly from TV Cam HD. Once logged in, there's of course the ability to make a video call, and you're also given the option to dial mobile and landline numbers using Skype Credit. But video chat is the focus here, and Logitech is touting what it calls Fluid Crystal technology as a major contributor behind the "crystal clear sound and sharp, rich video images" it claims the TV Cam HD delivers.
Still, this all might have a familiar ring to it, and that's because there's already a product on the market that promises identical functionality — Tely Labs' telyHD. Both feature wide-angle lenses and carry four microphones for audio. Both clearly borrow inspiration from Kinect in terms of design motif; their black plastic hardware would look right at home next to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console. And most unfortunately, both are priced in the stratosphere. $200 for what's essentially an HDTV webcam? Right at the outset, this sounds like a tough sell to us. Kudos to Skype for furthering its push into the living room, and Logitech has certainly established a reputation for top notch peripherals, but we'd hesitate to describe TV Cam HD as a winning recipe.