When the film 2001: A Space Odyssey came to our cinema screens in 1968 Kubrick outlined the vision of communication via video phones. Since then companies have tried in vain to recreate the scene from the film. About seven years ago, we were introduced to the wonders of the webcam. Now D-Link wants to introduce us to the D-Link i2eye Videophone.
The device, which for all intents and purposes is the same as a webcam, has one major difference; it doesn't need a PC to work. Instead the device works from your television. The only requirement is that you have a broadband connection.
Setup is easy but not simple and during tests we managed to get about 15 frames per second on a 256Kb broadband ADSL line. Just like any PC-based software you have a main image and a smaller image of yourself. Plugging a phone into the device makes things a whole lot easier than rely on a mic and your television audio although you do lose the loudspeaker affect.
While this device is sure to appeal to those without a PC, the initial excitement over the money you'll save from not having to buy an expensive PC soon fades. For starters you need two of these devices (one at each end) along with broadband connections and a broadband modem as well. Add all these up and you've soon spent somewhere in the region of 800, the price of a cheap PC with free webcam.
However, that said, your calls are covered by the flat broadband fee and this system does work very well once up and running. Chances are, if you are reading this you already have access to a PC at home and the addition of a £30 webcam won't break the bank. However if you are against the idea, and want to chat with friends and family in person from the comfort of your sofa this will do the job nicely.