Cisco umi: The HD video caller

Oh dear, talk about poor timing.

Telecoms expert Cisco has announced a brand new living-room based video calling platform called Cisco umi, that hooks up to your HDTV and your broadband connection to provide HD video calls.

The trouble is, at $599 and $24.99 a month for unlimited calls, it's going to find it hard to compete with Logitech's Google TV powered Logitech TV Cam, which has just been announced and costs just $149.99, with no monthly fee, and offers a very similar service.

Anyway, let's not dwell on Cisco's unfortunate timing (or extortionate pricing) and instead focus on what is on offer with umi.

The umi system comprises of a camera that sits above (or below) your HDTV, a console that powers the system and a remote control.

You can call up anyone who has Google Video Chat installed on their computers or, of course, make HD to HD chats with anyone else you know who has the system installed.

The camera can record as well, so you can leave video messages for people (and receive them as well, with notifications via SMS) and you can also make living-room-based home movies and upload them to Facebook and YouTube.

“Cisco is bringing people together, driving new video experiences that change the way we communicate, connect, and enjoy entertainment - in the home, at work, and on the go”, said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco.

“Cisco umi will bring the unique telepresence experience into living rooms and change the way we are able to be together with family and friends. We envision a future where technologies like this will play a role in connecting consumers with businesses to enable the delivery of new services, ranging from education, to health care, to financial services - to the home”.

It's just a shame that Logitech envisioned the same thing. At a fraction of a cost.

Cisco umi is out on 14 November. There's no news yet regarding a UK release.