A reasonably-priced add-on solution for integrating Skype with your TV

You have that existing flatscreen TV that isn’t enabled for Skype but want to add this function to it. It may range from a cheap-brand 32”-37” flatscreen that you have bought just to get in to digital TV or have something that fits in easily with your lounge area. On the other hand, you may have bought that European-brand unit that excels in the video-quality stakes but isn’t part of the “smart-TV” bandwagon. In some cases, you may have one of those smaller “computer monitor size” LCD TVs that are typically pitched for use in a bedroom.

But how do you enable this set for Skype videocalls on the large screen without having to rope in a computer for this purpose. This is very important if you are setting up for an older relative who isn’t sure about how to operate technology. The prices quoted here are the manufacturer’s recommended retail prices but the street prices in your area or online may be significantly cheaper.

Add Skype using a video peripheral

Before you answer this question, you would need to make sure that the area where the TV is in has access to Internet service via a regular small network like what is used at home. Here, you must be able to gain access to the Internet service without having to complete a Web-based login sequence or satisfy “enterprise-grade” login requirements, a problem that may affect users who live in retirement villages, resorts or caravan parks that provide public Wi-Fi wireless Internet.

If you have a decent functioning Blu-Ray player or home-theatre system in place, I would suggest that you go for the Logitech TV Cam HD which runs for AUD$249. This unit works as a dedicated “universal” Skype video camera that functions with any TV that has an HDMI connection.

But you don’t have a decent functioning Blu-Ray player or the DVD player just packed it in and you want to integrate this functionality in to the next Blu-Ray player you purchase.

As far as brands are concerned, Panasonic seems to be the only one who can offer a reasonably-priced entry-level solution involving a Blu-Ray player. Here, the prices I am quoting include the cost of the player and the cost of Panasonic’s TY-CC20W Webcam which sells for $130 and works with most recent Skype-enabled Panasonic video equipment.

A basic Blu-Ray option that offers Skype enablement would be the Panasonic DMP-BDT220 used along with the TY-CC20W camera. It would be the way to go if you have an AV receiver or don’t necessarily care about surround sound. This player has integrated Wi-Fi wireless connectivity

For those of you who value a home-theatre solution, Panasonic do run a systen which would cost AUD$730 This would be made up with the SC-BTT480 which is a Wi-Fi-ready Blu-Ray home theatre along with the same Panasonic camera. This would have the full surround-sound package along with FM radio, Blu-Ray playback and Viera Connect Smart TV functionality.

These units support use the Viera Connect functionality which would facilitate IPTV and video on demand functionality that is offered through this platform.

As well, most of these units use an Ethernet connection which can yield a more reliable network video connection than Wi-Fi wireless when your place is wired for Ethernet or you are using a HomePlug AV powerline segment.

Once you know what is available for a reasonable price, you can think of enabling that regular flatscreen TV set with Skype in a universal manner for an easy-to-use videocall setup.

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