Video calls on your TV can be a beautiful thing. For many, the television the hub of family life, so what better way to connect with friends and relatives than en masse from the comfort of your sofa with your whole family?
That may sound like some kind of future dream that your home AV arrangement just isn’t up to, but you’d be wrong. There are three main ways to do it with Skype and the good news is that you don’t necessarily have to have an internet-connected TV. You don’t even need to have Wi-Fi in your house at all, if you don’t want to.
That said, you may be in the market for a new television or perhaps might have bought one in the past year or two. In that case, take note that most of the major TV manufacturers - LG, Sony, Philips, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba - have internet-connected, smart TV platforms which support a Skype app of one kind of another. That makes them Skype-ready.
Those TVs may or may not have a webcam embedded into their frames. If they have, then all you need is an internet connections and you’re away. If not, you’ll want to pick up a compatible, external Skype camera, many of which you can find here for just short of £100. You will not be able to use your normal computer webcam for your TV. They’re just not compatible at the moment although Skype is apparently looking to make it possible in the future.
Skype through your Blu-ray player
If you don’t have an internet-connected smart TV, then all is not lost. The humble Blu-ray player is also capable of many fascinating things and the vast majority of them are connectable to the web by either Wi-Fi or, more usually, a hard Ethernet line. As a result, Blu-ray players often come with their own app platforms - the same as those on their TV counterparts - where you’ll find Skype software ready to go.
So, no need to shell out on a new set. Just pick up a basic, internet-connected Blu-ray player and an external TV webcam and you’re all set. The total additional outlay comes to around £200 but that’s an awful lot cheaper than a £600+ smart TV.
All-in-one Skype TV cams
Finally comes the magic bullet solution to getting Skype off your computer screen and on to your television. You don’t need a smart TV, you don’t need a Blu-ray player. All you need is a television with an HDMI port - so, one bought in the past eight years or so - and an internet connection of one form or other.
Essentially, these Skype-ready all-in-one TV cams are little dedicated Skype computers that perch on top of your TV. They connect to the internet by either jumping on to your Wi-Fi or by Ethernet cable. As well as the camera and the connection, they contain all the software and hardware elements for running the Skype program. That way, they effectively externalise all the bits and pieces that your TV needs to run Skype and packages them into a little black box.
It’s only really the Logitech TV Cam HD and Tely Labs telyHD that exist at the moment. It costs around £180 and offers 720p video, remote control use and noise-cancelling microphones to make sure that only the relevant sounds are picked up and there’s no feedback from the audio coming out of your TV. Not bad for the money. The only problem is, you’ll want to buy one for your friends and family so that they can use them at the other end.