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Skype Adds HD Telephony To LG, Panasonic TVs

Las Vegas – Skype announced at International CES Tuesday that it has partnered with leading TV manufacturers to include Skype telephony and HD videophone services to select TV models.

Both Panasonic and LG Electronics announced Tuesday that they will market TVs in 2010 that incorporate the new Skype services into select Internet-enabled TV sets.

Among other things, the service will enable viewers to make and answer Skype phone calls and HD videophone calls through a connected TV set, without the need of a PC.

The latest version of Skype for Windows can deliver up to 720p HD-quality video calling at 1280-by-720 resolution, at up to a 30 frames per second rate.

Skype VoIP users with small Webcams connected to their PCs have had the ability to make more simplified video calls for several months. The company estimates that about one-third of Skype calls already include video.

The new service in partnership with LG and Panasonic will enable users to use TVs to make such calls and the system will accommodate several viewers at the same time.

Skype said new HD webcams are due to arrive in early 2010. The new Skype Certified HD webcams handle the video encoding and processing onboard, removing the need for a high-performance computer to encode the HD video, Skype said.

faceVsion developed the FV TouchCam N1, an HD encoding webcam optimized for Skype video calling.

Two versions of the faceVsion webcam will ship, beginning in February 2010. One will include a microphone ($99) and one will not ($69).

In Store Solutions introduced two HD encoding webcams, the FREETALK HD PRO ($120) and FREETALK HD PRO PLUS ($140), which will be available in March 2010.

Both the faceVsion and FREETALK webcams 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

LG Electronics said it will add the capability to its NetCast enabled displays, and Panasonic will add the capability to select sets equipped with its VieraCast services.

Panasonic is planning to include the Skype technology on one of its 65-inch sets. The Skype service is planned for Panasonics VT and G series TVs in the U.S.